How to Share Your Adventure

Eight of the biggest icons in the world Outside offer their hard-earned tips

The photographer at work (Michael Muller)
Michael Muller

Cynics like to say we’re now living in the Age of Overshare. Our response? That’s only if you don’t do it right. Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, recently estimated that there are five million terabytes of data on the Internet, and we’re guessing about half of those are your adventure pics, podcasts, tweets, blogs, and a nearly infinite stream of helmet-cam powder porn. How much of it is worth your time? Well, we’ll leave that for you to decide. The important point here is that there is so much great technology available to capture, edit, and post your exploits, there’s really no reason why all those vlogs, trip reports, and photo albums can’t be completely share-worthy, maybe even downright good

For some further insight and guidance, we reached out to a few notable adventure vets and outdoor athletes, pros who’ve made a living playing outside. Long gone are the days where you need to log a 20-pound camera, 30-pound tripod, and 40 pounds of batteries and film to capture great memories and tell a great story. Got an iPhone, a Gorilla Pod, and a great idea? You’re in business. Yes, okay, depending on your level of ambition—are you creating Friday’s Facebook post, or the next award-winner at Telluride Mountain Film?—you may need to upgrade. If you’re still sorting that out, don't worry. Start simple, and start small. You’ll be amazed how much more successful the final product will be.

Take an Amazing Adventure Photo

JIMMY CHIN tells you how to nail the shot that you’ll be proud to pass around

The end result
The end result (
On location

On location

On Where to Look: Finding physical locations is only part of the process. You should search for intellectual and emotional places as well. Every corner of the earth has something interesting in it, details that reveal a place's history, geology, culture, and more. Everywhere you look, there is something going on, something that tells a story, something beautiful, or something dynamic. Open your mind’s eye and you’ll find amazing images wherever you are.

On Equipment: My most basic set up is a Nikon D700 (soon the D800) and 24-70mm 2.8 Nikkor lens. But, the best camera is the one that is with you. These days I spend 90 percent of my time shooting with my iPhone. It's always low-pressure shooting; it’s very liberating. There are tons of great point-and-shoots now, so between the phone camera and high end digital SLR, you have a lot of choices. There are probably 25 point and shoot cameras out there right now that will shoot a publishable photo. My top picks would probably be the Canon G12, Lumix, and Nikon.

On Lighting and Composition: Focus on using natural light. The best times are the golden hours—dawn and dusk—when the sun is closest to the horizon. You can also shoot something back lit, front lit, in open shade etc. Be creative with whatever light you have. For composition, it's good to know the Rule of Thirds. If you are shooting an image from a normal perspective (at eye level) that is a general overview of a situation, it's probably not going to be that interesting because that’s what everyone is seeing in real life. Try a different perspective: move up close to someone (use your judgment and manners, especially if the person is a stranger), get down on the ground, climb up in a tree, get behind, below, above the subject, and shoot with something cool in the foreground.

On the Best Ways to Share: I'm always sharing via Instagram (jimmy_chin). If it's something I want on my Facebook page or Twitter, I'll turn those options on. Instagram is tons of fun and is a great way to follow my friends, and for my friends to follow me. Beyond that, I also follow a lot of different people—photographers, athletes, artists, musicians, etc. I'm always amazed at how great athletes are often great photographers. My favorite thing about Instagram is seeing how creative or funny or thoughtful people are.

Create a Podcast

FITZ CAHALL started producing stories, radio-style, in a closet with $600. Now it’s considered the “This American Life” of outdoor adventure. Here’s how it works.

Fitz Cahall
The man behind the equipment (Courtesy of Fitz Cahall)

Fitz recording

Fitz recording

On Where to Start: You need to have a story idea before you put your key in the ignition to go somewhere. I would actually write out a script. You may not stick to it, but that kind of preplanning is critical.

On A Basic Audio Recording Setup: You’ll need a decent mic, like the Zoom H4N1. Also, a computer for editing. There are several different sound editing programs, but GarageBand is free and works great. In our first year, we did interviews in our living room. I lived near a busy street and you could hear the traffic. So we moved into a closet, which was better. Then we lined the closet with foam. I think maybe we spent $600 that whole first year.

On How to Figure Out a Good Story: “They’re everywhere. I realized it’s what we did every time we sat around a campfire, or drove to crag. Stories are our currency. I might be at a barbecue talking to someone, and it’ll hit me: This would be great on the Diaries.”

On Using Music: The music I use either comes from people I know, or it comes from promotion groups, we essentially have an extensive music library to access. Vimeo is a great resource, where can buy cheap licenses. And don’t hesitate to just reach out, and ask. If you’re tracking down the Arcade Fire, good luck. But if it’s a band you saw in some bar, go hit ‘em up on Facebook. Sometimes they’ll say no, but a lot of times they’ll say yes.

Take an Underwater Photo

He may be best known for his amazing images of great white sharks, but MICHAEL MULLER shoots a lot less intimidating underwater subjects. And you can, too.

Underwater photography
Underwater photography (Michael Muller)

Michael Muller

The photographer at work

How to Approach an Underwater Shot: Depends on what I’m shooting. A portrait? A shark? My kids? There are two kinds of shoots, one using a nice camera, like an SLR, that I’m putting in a housing. And then there’s the pure fun ones, with point-and-shoots. There are 11-, 12-, 14-megapixel cameras that are waterproof and go down to decent depth and take amazing pictures. That’s what I used when I’m on vacation with my family.

On Equipment: First off, THE place for all things underwater, like professional housings, is backscatter.com. They have everything and are the best. For point-and-shoots, I like the Nikon Coolpix AW100, the Olympus Tough 8010, and the Canon Powershot D10.

On Processing: Set the image file to “raw.” That will allow you to adjust the picture later using (Adobe) Bridge, (Adobe) Lightroom, or one of those programs. You have to adjust the temperature of the images. That will allow you to get real skin tones rather than the image being all blue.

On Shooting People: Tell people that you’re shooting to let all the air out before you go under water. Otherwise your lungs are like balloons and you float to the surface. Also, if you don’t let your air out you look like a pufferfish.

On Lighting: Experiment with a flash and with natural light. You can also try bracketing. Once you get the effect that you like, you can shoot the rest of your session that way. The great thing about digital cameras

On Shooting Fish and Sea Life: Get your camera ready before you swim over to it. If you see something, pause, get your camera to your face, then slowly approach. You can even shoot as you get closer.

Create and Share Videos

For the last few years, climber and skier RENAN OZTURK has been creating some of the best movies in the adventure game after teaching himself the art of film

On A Basic But Pro-Caliber Set-up: I’d suggest a good SLR, like the Nikon D800 or the Canon 5D Mark III, with a few lenses. You’ll also want something a little more run-and-gun, I call them beer can cameras, like the Panasonic TM900. The other piece of the kit is a sound recording device, I use the on-camera Rode Videomic Pro, which I think is one of the best sounding ones out there right now. You also need some kind of camera stabilization device. I use a carbon fiber tripod with the Manfrotto 701 Fluidhead. But a Gorillapod works well, too. 

On Shooting: Anticipate what the elements of your story are. Even if you’re filming a ski trip with friends on your iPhone, the first run with tons of powder is probably when a lot of emotion is going to come out. You’ll want to get wide, medium, and tight shots. Also, I think of texture in my shots, like, what’s the grittiest textural element I can add to this scene. Like now, I’m sitting in an aiport, I might shoot all the bottles of perfume at the duty-free shop. 

On Editing: I like Adobe Premiere. It’s a little more expensive, but depending on your level of commitment, I’d learn it from the beginning. Final Cut Pro works great too, though. 

On Posting and Learning: My greatest source of inspiration is Vimeo. It’s a great community, with a lot of creative storytelling. There’s a video school on the site with lots of tutorials. I never went to film school or anything, I’m entirely self-taught. There’s an answer for everything on the web. You just have to become a search-engine ninja.

Tweet Your Expedition

Polar explorer FELICITY ASTON recently became the first woman to ski solo 1,084 miles across Antarctica, tweeting and “phonecasting” all the way

Examples
Examples (Courtesy of Twitter)

On Equipment: I had an Iridium ‘Extreme’ satellite phone. I used a Flexcell roll-up solar panel to charge it, which wasn't hard since I had 24 hours of daylight. That’s about it, but I also had Iridium’s AccessPoint, which turns the sat phone into a hot spot. I wasn’t carrying any other kit with me, like a laptop, but I tested it at the South Pole and it worked great.

On a Dispatch Program: I started off tweeting even as I was skiing along; I had the phone on me. But after it got really cold that kind of ended. I couldn’t be faffing around in those temperatures, so it was at night in my tent, or before I got going in the morning. I was sending SMS messages, so I couldn’t see any of the replies, or retweets. When I left I had 400 followers, but when I got to the South Pole I discovered that I had 9,500 followers.

On What She Tweeted: I was saying whatever I felt like, but when I saw how many followers I had, I almost felt like I needed to be saying something different. But I was told [while at the South Pole], no, this is what people want: what I felt, what I’m seeing and hearing, what I was thinking. You should tweet the same way.

On How It Impacts a Remote Expedition: It was a huge mental boost. It made the tent feel a little less lonely, to think that all these people were out there listening.

On What’s Next: It’ll be all about education. The last time I went to the pole, I did a lecture in London from my tent in Antarctica. They were looking at photographs that I’d uploaded from the pole. With the ability to have a wi-fi hotspot, you’ll be able to Skype live from your tent. It’s possible that, a group of schoolkids in, say, Minnesota, can dial up an explorer, and ask, What is the weather like? What are you doing right now? What is that behind you? I’m looking forward to that day.

Map Your Trip

Explorer and filmmaker ANDY MASER has helped his friends and fans stay connected and follow his adventures with sophisticated maps and, more recently, GPS messaging

In the Field
In the Field (Courtesy of Andy Maser)

On Equipment: I use the Spot satellite communicator paired with Delorme’s PN-60w GPS device. The Spot allows you to plot and track your positions during your expedition. The Delorme allows us to send short messages to our website, Twitter or Facebook accounts, or individual email.

On Preplanning: We create a blog that is going to be the information hub on the project, and then I setup and embed a Google map at the top of it. Any time someone wants to check up on an expedition, they just go to the blog and front and center, there’s a map. It’s great for family and friends and people wanting to follow along. They can see at a glance where you are or wherever you checked in last.

On Getting the Most of These Devices: One trick is to make sure you let as many people know ahead of time what you’re up to, where you’re going, and what you’re doing. That way, they know basically what to look for. Once you’ve started to attract followers on Twitter, Facebook, or your website, using the technology with social media is pretty straight forward. Turn on the Spot, put it in your pack, and go, using the Delorme to post messages anywhere you like.

On Troubleshooting: Check to make sure there’s coverage where you’re going. Some locations, like central Africa, or down near the poles, aren't as reliable, as the Americas or Europe. One great thing about the devices’ functionality is a 911 feature. We were Kayaking in Canada on one trip when one of our paddlers got injured. This technology helped us initiate a rescue.

Build a Community

DL BYRON started the urban cycling blog Bikehugger because he noticed a trend. Then trendspotters began to notice him.

The end product
The end product (Bikehugger)

On Humble Beginnings: It started six years ago when I noticed an uptick in the amount of cyclists on the road. My agency, Textura Design is in the blog-building business and wrote a book about it—Publish & Prosper: Blogging for Your Business—there at the start of social media years before. Then, at the urging of my colleagues, I started blogging about the bike and urban cycling.

On What Makes a Good Blog: It’s not the tool, it’s the content. You’ve got to have the content, and make it interesting, for people to read. Twitter and Facebook are just different channels. Blogging and publishing now are like running a cable network. You’ve got to syndicate yourself, but it doesn’t matter where you are if your content isn’t strong.

On What Tools to Consider: The tools are much easier than when we started, and most are free. It’s when you get into traffic and turn it into a job or business that you need to consider hosts, apps, and servers. I’d focus first on your voice and point-of-view.

On Growing Pains: What’s been most helpful is keeping it real. There are a lot of distractions. You get pulled and pushed in different directions. Keep your focus on what you do and do it well.

On the Future: We’re pouring content into Google+ and are focused 100 percent on mobile technology.

On Advice for Newbies: Don’t quit your day job.

Promote A Cause

SHANNON GALPIN brought her mountain bike to Afghanistan to raise awareness for the plight of women and girls. And that was just the beginning of the adventure.

At work
At work (Courtesy of Shannon Galpin)

On What to Remember When Getting Started: Treat the men and women, boys and girls, that you work for with respect. They know what is most needed in their communities. Whether you are working domestically or internationally, work alongside the locals and make them the heroes of the mission. Don't gift a project—instead create an atmosphere in which everyone is invested to ensure success and longterm sustainability. 

On Getting the Most out of Social Media: Set up a Facebook Fan Page and post events, updates, news, and relevant articles. Set up a Twitter handle and tweet daily. Retweet related messages and use hashtags to build your audience. Set up a Blog on Wordpress or Posterous to deepen the conversation and embed plug ins that make it easy for others to share content. Create simple videos for YouTube that can be shared, tweeted, and posted to engage audiences and create conversation. Create community events that connect home communities to project communities through social activities that build community and educate the masses about your mission. 

On Raising Money: Fundraising is by far the hardest part. Reach out to your core group of friends, family, and colleagues that support your efforts first, before you blast strangers with social media. Consider fundraising sites like Crowdrise, Firstgiving, and Kickstarter. The human connection is the strongest hook you've got. Share stories of individuals involved, post photos, and humanize the project as much as you can. We are all part of a global community, but it’s easy to forget if the project is on the other side the world, or even another state.

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