Alex Sharp Travel Photography | Photographing Mountains

Photographing Mountains

September 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


This blog is all about photographing mountains - I know we haven't quite reached winter yet and all things cold, but I've had a couple of people ask me about photographing mountains and so whether you want to photograph them in the winter or summer, here are some hints and tips and also I've had a few people ask me if i would share my camera settings of the photos that I share - so I will of course ;-)

So I'm going to start with safety because I can't help myself - if you and your kit are going off into the hills/mountains etc - please check the weather - tell somebody where you are going and when you are planning on being back. Have a fully charged mobile phone with you. Also take snacks and a flask of something warm and a bottle of water, proper clothing for your environment.

Then for the camera - comfortable camera bag, spare batteries and plenty of memory cards, lens cloth, tripod, filters lenses etc etc.

                       Camera info: ISO 100, f8, 1/800th sec, I shot this on my canon 5D Mark II using my canon 24-105mm lens at 24mm

I shoot everything in colour and convert any that I choose to be Black and white whilst in the Raw stage back home on the mac.

Remember that when you are photographing mountains you don't always need to be at the top of them, sometimes being at the bottom can give just as fabulous a shot - plus putting something in the photograph apart from just the mountain and its' surrounds can also add scale to the photograph. I took the  above image in Svalbard and included our schooner, not a large vessel - it slept 16 people as i recall, but with the moon, the glacier, the small mountains and the boat, it all adds to the effect. I shoot everything on Canon cameras, either my 5D Mark II or my 1DS Mark II, I have all canon lenses too. Settings for this were ISO 1000, 1/200sec, F 5.6 I had no tripod with me on this particular landing and it was getting quite dark hence the higher ISO.

mountain peaksmountain peakstop of les deux alpes

You don't always need to climb the mountains, but when you do and you're above the cloud line..... OMG   WOW It brings on a whole new perspective to life, mountains are magnificent, being up in the clouds will add a whole new dimension and sense of size to the image, just remember to be prepared for all weather changes.

Other Things to think about

Filters - don't forget to take good quality filters, a polarizer for beautiful skies, plus sunglasses for yourself.

Take a good wide angle lens as to get a mountain range in can also make for a beautiful panoramic - or alternatively if you place your camera on a tripod take several images of the range of mountains that can be "stitched" together when you return home.

If you are climbing through trees or woods to reach a good viewpoint of some mountains - it may be that you can use them to frame an image which can work very well.

If there is a lake in front of the hills or mountains that you are photographing use it - reflections can be fabulous- especially in a calm body of water

ok these aren't mountains they're hills - but you get the idea.

Below, is Torres Del Paine.

The glacier water of the lake doesn't make for a great reflection, but it picks up the snow highlights which I quite like. This was shot on my Hasselblad by the way - so I have no record of settings, sorry.

Likewise, adding a person for a sense of size or drama can make a huge difference to an image, see below this is at the top of Tryfan in Wales where people jump from one stone to another - Adam and Eve - this is not for the feint hearted....

adam and eve at the top of Tryfan Walesadam and eve at the top of Tryfan Wales

Don't forget - if you do take the time and trouble to climb, scramble or walk to the top - photograph the view around you along the way and at the top if possible photograph the whole way around for a 360 degree stitched view when you get home.

However you decide to photograph mountains, whether as a background, or the main focus of your image there are many ways to do it, whether on skis, in walking boots or in climbing gear, stay safe and enjoy the fresh air and marvelous scenery.

View from one mountain top across a valley in Austria to whole other mountain range.

I know mobile phones don't always work up mountains, but if you can tell somebody where you are going and when you are expecting to be back at least if you don't show up and your phone doesn't work they will be able to tell rescue people the right info and they will then know where to look for you.

That brings me to the end of this mountain photography blog, other than to say that for those of you who know me - know there is usually a trip planned for the end of the year... sadly not so this year, because we will soon be moving house, and with that comes a new studio ;-) exciting times lie ahead. However i already have 2 snowy mountain trips booked in for the start of next year and I also have some trips in the UK for the end of this year, which include rutting stags - so watch this space. I will try to blog more frequently and if you do have any questions please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them as quickly as I can. ;-)


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