Capturing The Trails on Camera

trail running photography workshop - Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe
Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

For the last year, I’ve used a photographer to capture the majority of my imagery as it was the time efficient option. Like most bloggers though, I have a collection of cameras (yes, plural). A few years ago, the most popular were (Professional) mirrorless cameras as they were usually being lighter, more compact, faster and better for video. However, when it comes to an activity like trail running, you can’t really beat a phone for portability.

A Day of Trails in the Devils Punchbowl

Have a look at the photo above; that little smudge in the photo, just to the right of the very centre, is me. I was setting off on what was to be my first ever trail running experience back in 2017. It was the closest I had ever been to being “new” to running in a long time and I loved every single minute of it.

There’s not many events that could get me to set a 6am alarm on a Saturday morning. I sometimes can’t even roll out of bed gone 8am to make it to Parkrun, but that weekend was different. We were heading to Surrey, Devils Punchbowl to be exact, with a coach load of people probably more experienced than me. We all have to start somewhere though and I couldn’t think of a better group of people to enjoy this day with…

The group was made up of Outdoor Bloggers from Freestak, Runners Need staff, customers and the team from Stance Europe. The aim of the day? To conquer the trails and nail the art of creative photography, being taught the basics by photographer, James Carnegie.

Rookie Mistake No. 1: Not planning ahead and thinking breakfast was provided. I ended up just having a coffee, two bananas and an orange for breakfast, some 5 hours after waking up

Nailing Outdoor Running Photographs

We started the day with our first workshop with James on how to get the most out of our smartphones for photography. I’ve never been a fan of using my iPhone camera but I think that’s because I hadn’t figured it out properly. I’d pretty much thought I’d nailed the running selfie but it seems that James has some very high standards!

The main points we covered in this first workshop were the rule of thirds, leading lines and the rule of space. We also covered angleometry (think, the angle you take the photo from, framing and panning (to create movement in your photo). As I’m writing this I realise how much it is to convey in a blog post… I highly recommend if you’re interested in photography you go take a little course. I took one back in 2015 which covered the basics and helped me to use my camera settings rather than relying on auto mode.

Devils Punchbowl, Surry - trail running - Photo Credit: IG @mrrichiep
Photo Credit: IG @mrrichiep

Armed with my iPhone 6s and a Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand for Smartphones it was time to hit the trails…

Rookie Mistake No.2: Is it just me or does your iPhone never have enough memory?! I’m gonna have to delete every app on it so I can actually have some fun with it!

I had no idea what to wear and I did freak out a little that I didn’t have trail shoes but then I was advised to just wear trainers that I didn’t mind getting muddy / dirty which had good grip. I wore my compression tights as my hip was feeling a little dodgy; I figured the tights would work a bit like kinesiology tape would be a huge benefit. We were super lucky with the weather being bright, dry and quite sunny while we were out and about.

outdoor running photographs - trail running - Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe
Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

Our goal as a team of 6 was to run to a point in the park, stopping to take in the views and capture our best photos. The terrain was muddy, uneven and the worse case of undulating I could ever have imagined! With plenty of stops I had time to take in the views, get to grips with what James had shared with us and recover! I can’t even explain how much time flies when you’re running along verges, jumping over puddles, running up and down hills and capturing it all on camera. Before we knew it, it was time to head back for the second workshop and a spot of lunch.

The Optimal Editing Workflow

My biggest takeaway from the editing workshop was the workflow that James suggested for editing photos:

Exposure / Brightness > Contrast > Highlights / Shadows > Saturation > Sharpening

I had literally been using a similar workflow, just the exact opposite way round! He also recommended Snapseed and VSCO apps as editing tools (I used to used Snapseed back in the day! …and although I have VSCO on my phone I haven’t had a chance to get my head around it!). I loaded up on carbs at lunch, oh, and cider then ended this adventure the only way I know how… with a nap on the coach headed back to London Town…

To see a sh*t ton of photos from the day, hop over to Instagram and check out #CaptureTrails and #StanceRun!

Are you an avid trail runner?! Do you enjoy taking photos when you’re out clocking up miles?! 


Check out the range of Stance socks available on Wiggle.


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This post is was written in conjunction with Panasonic but you know me, all thoughts, opinions and rookie mistakes are my very own.

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