Sir Edmund Hillary, along with Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, the first known people to summit Mount Everest, was once asked why he decided to make the ascent. His reply was simple. "Because it was there." A simple answer to a simple question. This got me thinking about a different, yet equally as simple a question. Why do nature photographers like to photograph mountains? Ask one and I'm sure the answer will be much more complex than Hillary's. Why some peaks and not others? Why those that are geologically newer? There are so many questions I decided to share a few of my mountain photography tips so you can elevate yours to new heights!
Include a Reflection: Mountains and lakes are often found together. Include the reflection of the peak to add an additional compositional element. Still water mostly occurs in the early morning but if you're lucky, it can extend into a later part of the day.
Think Wide AND Telephoto: Mountain photography and wide angle lenses are often paired for obvious reasons. Mountains are tall and a wide can can take them in. But how about attaching a telephoto to isolate just the peak in early or late light? How about using a telephoto to compress the layers to produce a receding atmospheric effect? How about using a telephoto to zero in on a patch of fall color? Think outside the box to add diversity to your images.
Dramatic Light: While blue sky days can be a photographer's good friend, dramatic sky conditions elevate the friendship to best man or maid of honor status. Listen to weather reports and if the edge of a storm coincides with sunrise or sunset, make sure you're at your favorite location. Ominous clouds, rainbows, and spot lit peaks all contribute to added drama.
FIlter It: A polarizer and a graduated neutral density filter are a mountain photographer's best friends. The polarizer adds drama to the sky and the grad filter helps control the exposure discrepancy between a sunlit peak and a shadowed foreground.
Frame It: To bring your mountain photos to the next level, add an additional feature. This can come in the form of a frame that adds interest to the main peak. Look for a complementary element that surrounds it. It should add interest through its color, shape, and texture. Make sure it relates to the subject.
Timing TIming Timing: Set the alarm for when it's still dark and make the effort to be at your location at dawn. Magical light occurs at that time and it's often missed by photographers who arrive at sunrise. While arriving at sunrise is still important, the potential at dawn shouldn't be missed. The same goes for dusk so stay out after the sun goes down and watch the sky explode!
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours.