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Off-Road Adventures



For Jonny Hill, the journey is as important as the destination, both of which he captures with his Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 and 28-75mm F/2.8 G2 zoom lenses.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Jonny Hill


Jonny Hill enjoys constantly expanding his photographic world, often heading out solo or with fellow photographers on local road trips in the American Southwest. But now that the UK native has also seen his family expand—he and his wife welcomed their first child just over a year ago—Jonny is now taking more trips in this newly formed group of three, and he’s reassessing what his nature and landscape photography means via a slightly new approach.

“We’re lucky enough to live in an area of Utah that’s close to plenty of off-roading trails in the mountains, so at least once a week I try to get up there as an escape,” Jonny says. “It brings me a lot of joy and peace, since most of the workweek I’m in front of the computer. Now I’m bringing my son on some of these camping trips, too, so he learns to love nature and get used to roughing it a little.”

Even though Jonny has been off-roading for about three years, the new shift in his family life has also led to somewhat of a shift in how he approaches his photography on his after-hours explorations. “I’ve found that I appreciate the journey much more now,” he says. “I used to travel to these remote locations and then start taking pictures. But even though I still take pictures of my ultimate destinations, I’m now just as interested in the photos along the way, many of which I incorporate my Jeep into. A benefit of this new authentic aesthetic of ‘this is me, in the middle of my adventure’ is that I’ve attracted the attention of multiple outdoor brands and leveraged it all to establish some great relationships.”

© Jonny Hill
28-75mm (28mm), F/2.8, 1/250 sec., ISO 400
Click image to view larger

Jonny has long tapped into Tamron lenses during his travels, though two in particular have become mainstays in his gear bag: the 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD ultra-wide-angle zoom and the 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2. The sharpness and price point of the lenses sold Jonny on both, and he continues to use the 17-28 for many of his landscape photos. The 28-75, however has proven particularly valuable for his photos concentrating on his mode of transport: his rugged Jeep.

© Jonny Hill
28-75mm (39mm), F/2.8, 1/320 sec., ISO 160
Click image to view larger

“The biggest reason for using the 28-75 lens is that it keeps my images truer to reality, in the sense that there’s no lens distortion like you might get using a wider focal length,” he says. “I don’t really like a wider field of view when a vehicle is involved, because it throws off the lines of the vehicle in my image. The 28-75 also offers the compression I’m looking for, and enhanced separation between the Jeep and whatever background I have it up against. It gives the Jeep an almost 3D rendering and makes it pop in the image.”

© Jonny Hill
28-75mm (40mm), F/2.8, 1/200 sec., ISO 50
Click image to view larger

Using a polarizer is key for Jonny’s more recent images. “My Jeep is black and picks up reflections easily,” he says. “The polarizer helps cut down on those reflections from the dark paint, as well as from the windshield.”

© Jonny Hill
28-75mm (29mm), F/2.8, 1/800 sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger

Jonny sees a marked difference in how he’s able to approach his off-roading photos compared with his landscape images. “My journeying photos feel less forced than my landscapes,” he says. “With my landscapes, I have to wait for just the right light to compose the best images. But although I still prefer the golden hour for my Jeep photos, I’m able to take them pretty much at any time of day. That offers me more flexibility when I’m shooting—I can stop whenever I see a scene that I think will work. This process sometimes makes the trip a little longer, but it’s usually worth it.”

© Jonny Hill
28-75mm (75mm), F/6.3, 1/100 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

In his landscape photos, one of Jonny’s signature moves was to incorporate a human into the photo to show scale. “In a way, in these newer photos, I’ve swapped out the human and inserted the vehicle in its place,” he says. “If I really want to show scale, I’ll get my drone out and send it skyward.”

What makes Jonny stop in his literal tracks, get out of the Jeep, and take a picture is whether the image can impart how difficult the journey has been, or if he can make the photo relatable. “Of course I’ll look for traditional photographic elements that add aesthetic appeal, such as leading lines or S-curves in the road,” he says. “But if the viewer is someone who enjoys doing the same type of off-road trip, I want them to look at one of my photos and think, ‘I need to jump in my vehicle and head up into the mountains.’ I’ve had people message me, asking me to point them in the right direction toward a scene they saw in one of my photos. And I love that, because that gets people outdoors, which is what it’s really all about in my mind.”

© Jonny Hill
17-28mm (17mm), F/8, 10 sec., ISO 100
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To see more of Jonny Hill’s work, check out his website and Instagram.






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