Photo of the Week | MOAB Off-Roading on a Polaris RZR

Every Friday I will be posting a Photo of the Week. Here I’ll be sharing the details on how I got the shot, where I was, and the backstory that went into it. I hope you find this enjoyable, and helpful in your own photography.


Camera: DJI Mavic Air
Lens: N/A
ISO: 100 4.5mm f/2.8 1/450

It’s not every weekend you get the chance to rip around the deserts of Moab on a 1000cc Polaris RZR side-by-side. But when you do, you make sure to capture the hell out of it! And at the end of our day, heading back from Chicken Corners, I flew up the drone to capture the ride from a new perspective. And a change of perspective is what I got!

Drones are an incredible tool in photography for a multitude of reasons. First being, they allow you to take photos and videos from locations otherwise unaccessible (aka impossible). Like this one, for instance. I’ve taken the drone high above the canyon floor where there is no other way to access this shot. And secondly, they allow you to be in the action and still able to catch the action. I am flying the drone, from the passenger seat, as we are flying down this trail. The remote aspect of drone photography is starting to outweigh its capturing potential for me. But it still has a long way to go.

After I took off, I started out by following the RZR for some follow-cam video. And as I pulled out, to get more of the rock in the picture, I realized it was moving into the perfect shot. I waited for the RZR (us) to move into the turn of the trail so that we would be in a negative space, and snapped a few photos. At first, I didn’t realize what I had, with all the bouncing around in the machine. But once I got home, I realized I had gotten the shot.

They say, as a photographer, you should shoot and frame the photo to draw the eyes where you want them to look. Too much noise can have the viewer distracted and miss the intention of the photo. Too little interest can be the converse effect of a blank photo. With this shot, I’m leaning towards having too much noise, too much happening in the photo, but I it seems to work for it though. This shot is more like a treasure hunt, to me. So much is going on, with the contrasting landscape and colors, that it leaves so much to discover for the audience.

At first, your eyes are drawn to the red sandstone cliffs and features in the foreground. It looks fake, and out of this world. Next, you realize theres a trail in the foreground. Naturally, your eyes follow the trail to towards the left of the frame, and thats when you see the RZR. This puts the picture into scale of how big everything is in the desert. From here, you obviously re-scan the rest of the photo to compare how big the plateau and rock walls are compared to the small side-by-side. And to cap off this photo with the warm red colors of the sandstone, contrasting with the snow covered walls in the shade and the bright blue ski. It’s a win-win-win for me.

Because of how difficult it is to time a moving subject with a moving camera (drone), I shot this in automatic. To make this shot better, I would have flown back another 100ft to reveal the cliff edge that we were driving along side of and maybe shoot an HDR shot to capture the over exposed sky better. If I had flown 100-200ft more to the left, I might have capture a better frame of the trail going from the right-to-left of the screen, retaining the audience’s vision a little better, creating a line through the photo. But overall, I’m stoked about it.

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