Shooting from a car window – Portugal Adventures

Don’t you just hate passing by beautiful landscapes and not being able to stop to take that picture? Happens to me all the time, but all is not lost. In this post I’ll show you some of my examples of shooting from a car window. The results may surprise you.

Bliss – the windows wallpaper story

I’m currently in Portugal. On my way back from the Algarve towards Lisbon is a rural region known as Alentejo. Quite peculiar landscape in rolling hills and oak trees…a bit like Tuscany but drier and less inhabitated. Very picturesque and a landscape photographer’s dream.

Alentejo, in between Algarve and the Lisbon region of Portugal

I had a bit of a flashback to the famous windows wallpaper, Bliss, which has earned the photographer, a few million (here’s the story behind it):

“In 1998, photographer Charles “Chuck” O’Rear was driving from Sonoma County through Napa on his way to Marin County. His mission was to meet Daphne, the woman who eventually became his wife. In January, as most California natives know, the rains come, and the hills explode into green for a few months before the withering summer heat browns them once again.

O’Rear, a 25-year veteran of National Geographic, drove down the road, then pulled over. That stretch of Highway 12 is narrow and windy, with only a slender shoulder for stopping one’s car. At the bottom of a steep embankment is a barbed-wire fence. And in 1998, when O’Rear took his famous “Bliss” photo, all he could see was an emerald-green hill, a ridge behind it, and a few puffy clouds.

“I got out, took a couple of pictures, and kept on going,” he told PCWorld in an interview on Monday. “And the rest is history.”

Bliss windows wallpaper, captured in California’s Napa Valley

Some beautiful sites along the way but unfortunately with no option to stop, so the next best thing was shooting from the window.


I’m a big fan of minimalism in photography and the the oak trees with the barren landscape were really interesting / dramatic.

I have to admit that I must have shot about 30 shots to get a decent one, but hell was it worth it. Here’s what it looks like unprocessed, with the settings on the top right:

ISO 500, F10 1/800 secs

Some glare on from the car window as you can see in the sky (I should have put it down), which is too bad. Anyway, I liked more the landscape than clouds as you’ll see. One is better than two and I decided to deforest the landscape but one oak tree:

Minimalist panorama of a rolling hilly plowed field with solitary suber cork oak tree, Quercus Suber, captured at Portugal's Alentejo region

I’ve submitted this to all the stock agencies + as fine art prints at Photo4Me and Fine Art America. If you want a piece of the Alentejo, please be my guest and support me 🙂

I really like this shot and took my time caption and keyword it to the best I could. I usually do a good job but for images which I feel are special, I will aim for excellence, which means doing research:

Caption: Minimalist panorama of a rolling hilly plowed field with solitary suber cork oak tree, Quercus Suber, captured at Portugal’s Alentejo region

Keywords: alentejo, oak, quercus, tree, wheat, europe, farm, field, landscape, portugal, rural, sky, agriculture, alone, background, beautiful, country, countryside, empty, environment, horizon, land, meadow, outdoor, plant, plowed, sunny, hill, pattern, cork, plain, solitary, minimalist, minimalism, panorama, pano, suber, alentejo portugal, wheat field, rolling hills, arid, hilly, rolling, one tree, blue sky, fine art, south europe, outdoors, lonely, loneliness

Opportunities are limitless

I’m constantly thinking about concepts and using unconventional opportunities to create something unique. It’s a bit like that dude in Limitless where he makes connections where there are apparently none. Except I don’t have that pill…do you?

Road Trip Concepts

Anyway, I see the winding highway in a desert-type landscape with the GPS on the dashboard and I think of a road-trip concept. Probably done to death but then again I’m there stuck in a car for 3 hours, so why not I’ll take a few shots and see what happens.

Here’s two unprocessed images (to be honest, I haven’t got around to processing them as still have a huge backlog). I’m not sure some agencies will accept the GPS one that is in focus due to trademark issues but I’ll still try. Worst case, I’ll submit as editorial.


Really enjoying putting together timelapses. I’ve found a nice time/calculation that works for me which is an interval of every 2 seconds, 13 minutes to create a 15 second exposure. I find standing around for longer than that may not be a great use of my time, especially when the light is special.

Here’s one I captured yesterday in Cascais:

Now, let’s hope they’ll sell. As for footage sales, I had two at Colourbox for a pathetic 20cents each, can you believe it? Ffs…I tap out with them, no more!


Roadtrip Continues

I’ll be in Portugal for another week than driving across Spain and into the south of France over the course of 5 days. I’ll have loads of shots from outside of my window, no doubt haha. Hopefully some in terra firma.

You can follow my adventures on Instagram! 

As for shooting out of the window, give it a go!

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted five years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography

Check out my new photo review service, where I’ll help take your images to the next level and get them sold regularly!


  1. A lot of my landscape pictures are taken from the car window. Most of the time I just stop next to the road, roll Down the window, take a quick few shots, and drive on. The majority of time I’m on the train though, and shooting through the dirty double glass windows of a train at 140km/h isn’t really succeeding often 🙂
    Anyway: great post again!!!! 😉 and I love the one tree hill picture!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the article. As for timelapses, I would suggest using an aperture of 7.1 or a lower number (if you’re using Aperture Priority mode) in order to reduce flickr. I tried this strategy and it seems to be working. I also use a Windows app called TLDF (Timelapse Deflicker) that renders still photos into timelapse videos and handles flickr. I shoot still photos and then convert them to timelapses, which results in more professional-looking and high quality videos. But this process certainly takes time and storage space.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comments with valuable tips.

      Agreed about the smaller aperture. I would add that by going even smaller to let’s say F16 you can get nice looking star shapes on lights when shooting at night.

      Interesting suggestion for program. I’m happy with my timelapses but if I put in more time to work on the individual images they would be even nicer. After my recent 20 cent sales for footage at colourbox, I’m not sure it’s a great investment of time (other than learning for the sake of learning). Of course Pond5 pays better, especially 4K.



  3. Well done on the “Tree Of Life” pic!
    With regards to window reflections, I try to use a polarising filter.
    I have more luck inside hotel windows that can’t be opened and less luck inside trains.
    I have a hesitation about airplanes.
    I would love to use a big suction cup but would not like to think the scenario it just decides to stay there and cannot take it out! (with small suction cups, only supporting action cams, I have no problem).
    My wife is always puzzled why I always clean my seat window in advance!
    Enjoy your trip, or rather quest to the Iberian peninsula!

    Liked by 2 people

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