Pictures of Roller Coasters

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Wide angle coaster photograph

Taking pictures of roller coasters is a great way to preserve the memories of any theme park getaway, but these speedy machines require special photographic techniques for individuals interested in capturing their twists, turns, and loops on film.

Boomerang
Wild Adventures
Scorpion
Busch Gardens Africa
Windstorm
Old Town

Why Take Pictures

Theme park tickets are not cheap, and the extra costs of a theme park vacation - parking, food, hotels, games, transportation, souvenirs, etc. - can quickly add up. Taking pictures of rides and roller coasters is a great way to make personalized, memorable souvenirs without the high price tag.

Roller coasters are also very photogenic subjects. The graceful curves and uniform architecture of the ride gives it a stunning visual appeal that is easily captured by even amateur photographers and mediocre equipment. To take the best pictures, however, it is necessary to understand some basic photography principles and how they apply to these iconic theme park attractions.

Tips for Taking Pictures of Roller Coasters

Entrance and loop

Taking coaster pictures is more complicated than simply pointing a camera at a passing train and clicking the button. Interested photographers need the appropriate equipment and a basic understanding of motion photography to capture the best shots.

Type of Equipment

While expensive cameras with detachable lenses and elaborate features will obviously capture great photographs, it is not necessary to invest in top-of-the-line equipment to take great coaster photographs. Whether the camera is film or digital, however, it should have a setting to work in different lighting conditions - ideally a day spent at an amusement park will be a sunny one, but poor weather shouldn't cancel pictures. A zoom lens is also recommended, since many coasters are spread over large tracts of land and close shots may not be possible. The film and shutter speed should also be able to capture fast motion for crystal clear images. When visiting a park, also take along extra batteries, film, and memory cards to ensure no shots are missed. Larger cameras may also require a padded carrying case to protect the delicate equipment.

What to Photograph

For most roller coasters, it will be impossible to get the entire coaster in one photograph. In that case, knowing what parts of the coaster make the best pictures will help even inexperienced photographers capture stunning shots. Great pictures to take include:

Wide angle elevated picture
  • The entrance or station of the coaster, especially if it is themed and attractive
  • Unique ride elements such as loops, twists, or turns that demonstrate the fun ride
  • Coaster trains in action, such as diving down a hill, in the middle of an inversion, or swooping through a turn
  • Wide angle shots that show much of the coaster's track and complexity

It is wise to take several pictures of the same coaster to choose the best shots to show the entire ride, and using different angles and distances will also show different parts and features of the ride.

Framing the Shot

The focal point of any picture should be centered in the camera frame, but taking pictures of roller coasters gives photographers some additional options for superb shots. For example, if taking a picture of a train, position the shot so that the leading and trailing edges of the track cross diagonally across the frame to add depth to the picture. If the entrance or sign can be framed in the shot as well, that will add an identifier for the picture. If the trains are moving too quickly for the camera to capture properly, take the photos when the trains are moving slowest - at the beginning of a descent, at the height of a loop, or midway through an inversion. Not only are these the most interesting pictures, but they will be sharp and clear as well.

Uses for Pictures

Layout shot

Visitors who have several beautiful roller coaster pictures to choose from can use them in many projects to preserve the memories of their amusement park vacation. Photos of roller coasters make great…

  • Scrapbook pages
  • Digital postcards
  • Computer backgrounds
  • Framed artwork
  • Keychain pictures

No matter how the pictures are used, they will be fondly remembered as great souvenirs of an exciting vacation.

Buying Roller Coaster Pictures

Themed entrance

Some park guests, no matter how hard they try, are unable to capture great roller coaster pictures. Furthermore, some roller coasters are deliberately concealed in buildings or thick foliage to heighten their excitement, making pictures impossible. In these cases, it is possible to buy prints, postcards, buttons, keychains, and other souvenirs that already use professional pictures and official logos. Other types of sophisticated pictures, such as behind-the-scenes shots, aerial photographs, and on-ride photos cannot be taken by amateurs and must be purchased from gift shops and ride kiosks, though they can be used in many of the same ways as personal snapshots.


Taking pictures of roller coasters is a fantastic way to capture the thrills of the ride as well as the excitement of a fun vacation. With the proper equipment and some basic know how, even amateur photographers can find great shots at their fingertips.

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Pictures of Roller Coasters