When we go on a hike, we always hope to bring back beautiful pictures that will make our friends green with desire and will justify the 7 hours of walking in the rain, the camp in the open wind and on the stones, freeze-dried food and your companion… Hike that snores in a tent that is too small. So, hiking photography is the most important part in hiking.
Because yes, you have to show that hiking is just happiness! And for that, what better than beautiful hiking photography? Dave Spates, a professional in the field of hiking photography has formulated some important tips for great hiking photography.
A few tips on the hardware side
The first obstacle to hiking photography comes from the equipment: the reflex and all its lenses are too heavy, impractical, suddenly we resign ourselves to not taking pictures … Now with expert level compacts or so-called “hybrid cameras” », this question is easily answered! For SLRs, I recommend 2 lenses maximum but the most practical is a Tran standard zoom lens (18-200mm) which allows you to take landscapes at a wide angle but also to zoom in on details.
“Whatever the type of device, it must be accessible without putting down the bag!”
In any case, you have to stay light and make the most of the hike: the photo should be an added pleasure during the hike and not a constraint!
Easy Accessible Hiking Device:
Whatever the type of device for hiking photography, it must be very easily accessible: that is to say without having to put the bag down. Otherwise you will have to stop, put down the bag and unpack everything as soon as you want to take a photo… that will discourage you very quickly!
While walking, the device should not be a burden on the neck and should not interfere with the movements of the legs, even in slightly steep passages. He must be forgotten enough to remain focused on walking and on the landscape. I therefore advise you to store your device in a bag worn on the hip and hung on the ventral strap of the backpack: access to the device is very quick and the weight of the device remains on the hips and therefore does not fall.
Going for several days walking in sublime landscapes encourages taking a lot of photos: for long treks, therefore, consider having at least 2 batteries and several memory cards. Save your batteries as much as possible by avoiding using the camera screen to look at your photos in the evening at the camp. Finally, in a cold environment, it is recommended to sleep with your batteries at the bottom of the sleeping bag and keep them close to you while walking, they will discharge less quickly.
Some composition tips for hiking photography:
The second problem is the lack of knowledge of some basic rules: once you have integrated a few simple tips to compose your image, your photos will bring back to life the landscapes you have crossed on foot!
“For the framing of your photo, respect the rule of thirds”
First of all, take your time before clicking: observe the landscape to find the best angle for your photo.
How to Frame The Hiking Photos
When it comes to framing, it is important to respect the rule of thirds. The image should preferably have a foreground, background and a strong subject placed in one of the thirds of the photo.
Of course, this rule doesn’t apply all the time, but if you understand it well, the photos have more impact because the eye is naturally drawn to the points located in the thirds of the image.
It is also necessary to use the vanishing lines of the image, which give dynamism to the photo.
For landscape photos, the “landscape” (horizontal) format is the most suitable, however, the “portrait” (vertical) format should not be neglected for mountain photos, because it adds a sense of dignity by playing with the verticality between foreground and background. In fact, each format gives off a different meaning, it’s up to you to decide what meaning to give to your image!
To change landscape photos at wide angle (18mm for example), it is interesting to take photos at zoom to show only a detail. This makes it possible to isolate a subject, leaving the surrounding environment guessing.
The subject is fairly uniform and extends over all the edges of the photo (you can’t see the sky), so it gives off an impression of infinity, of forest as far as the eye can see.
Most Important Tip for Hiking Photography:
Do not hesitate to photograph details of life that you meet on your way (flowers, fauna, rocks, etc.).
“To add life and movement to the photo, add walkers to your photos, it also gives an idea of the scale of the landscape.”
You have to think about the position of the walker on the photo. Usually it is located on one of the edges of the photo and walks towards one of the other highlights of the photo or towards the center, for more vibrancy. But above all, be careful never to cut off hikers’ feet!
Some light tips for hiking photography
The mountain is unique in that the light can be very strong there and in general there is an atmospheric veil in the air. There is only one miracle solution: the polarizing filter. It’s like the sunglasses for your device!
“Prefer photos in the morning and evening when the light is lower and more beautiful.”
During the day, always take your photos with the sun behind your back to avoid “burning” the lights (when the bright parts of the photo are unrecoverable and no detail can be seen).
The good weather is ideal for hiking… less for taking pictures! Because the too hard light flattens the subject, reinforces the shadows and the illuminated areas: it is therefore also necessary to take pictures when there is no blue sky! Busy, stormy skies make great photos because they are more dramatic (and less postcard-like) than blue skies. So if it is raining on the trail, do not put the camera away too quickly, and get out just after the storm to photograph beautiful sunny spells!
Some adjustment tips for your hiking photography
If you have a camera with manual settings (reflex, bridges or expert compacts), prefer “aperture priority” mode to automatic modes. Indeed these tend to saturate the colors and burn the lights, and moreover you do not fully control your image (focus, exposure).
“Prefer the” aperture priority “mode to automatic modes”
Roughly speaking, the aperture determines the sharp area (where the focus performs) and the blurred area in the photo. The larger the aperture (by a value of the “f” setting low), the lower the area of sharpness and conversely the blurred area is large.
Photography at Landscape:
For landscape photos, we prefer to have a large sharp area, to see the details in the distance and so that the background remains sharp. To do this, put a high value on the aperture (f13 for example) and adjust the focus on your subject (generally infinity, if it is mountains in the distance).
We also obtain interesting results by focusing on an element in the foreground (eg a flower): in this case, the more we “open” (eg: f2) by focusing in the foreground, the more the background will be out of focus and the eye will be drawn to the sharp part of the foreground. This gives quite aesthetic results.
Hiking Photography Useful Tip:
Be careful, the more you “close”, the darker the photo and the reduced speed (with more risk of the photo being blurry). In this case, you have to open a little more or as a last resort increase the ISO (but be careful not to increase the ISO too much, this deteriorates the image). A last resort is to use the tripod, but that’s another story!
Indeed, the speed limit (below which there is a risk of having a blurry photo) freehand is 1 / 50sec. If you are below, open a little more or increase the ISOs until you get enough speed.
For full day situations with sunlight, I recommend not to exceed ISO 100 to 200. So remember to set the ISO manually, otherwise the camera has an annoying tendency to increase the ISO in automatic mode… Conversely, the larger the aperture (f2 for example), the more light there will be in the photo, with the risk of burning the details!