Mountain Landscape Photography Tips

You will find all sorts of mountains all around you. If you want to capture the marvelous mountainous landscapes on film, with you and your family or your companions in the scene, then the best time to take these pictures is while you are hiking. However, keep in mind that you will be facing tremendous unanticipated photographic challenges when taking mountain hiking pictures. So, if you want to avoid facing these challenges when taking pictures in the mountains, then keep the following tips in mind for your next hiking trip.

mountain range

Photo by Richard Fraser.

Tip 1: Don’t waste time waiting for the golden hour

Generally, in landscape photography, the best time to take pictures is during the precise moment just after sunrise or before sunset, which is known as the golden hour. At this time, the landscape looks absolutely brilliant due to the warm light spread across it, and the scene looks magnificent as a result of this. However, if you want to take a picture during the golden hour in the mountains while hiking, you will either entirely miss it or the marvelous effects of the golden hour will simply be lessened. So, you should never waste your time waiting for the golden hour if you want to take mountain hiking pictures.

Tip 2: Use a good Grad ND Filter to overcome contrast

Usually, a landscape is fairly evenly hit by the sunlight. However, in mountainous landscapes, at one moment a ridge might be in complete shadow and the other moment the sunlight will be focused right on it. This means that if you want to take pictures in the mountains while hiking, then you will either have to blow out the sky, or you will have to lose the shadow details. This is why when it comes to taking landscape pictures in the mountains, using a graduated neutral density filter becomes necessary. If you use a Grad ND filter while taking mountain hiking pictures, then you will be able to darken the sky and retain detail in the mountain landscape.

Tip 3: Keep an eye out for unnatural shadows

When taking mountain hiking pictures, you might have to face away from the sun to eliminate the shadows from the mountains in front of you. However, as a result of this, distracting shadows of nearby trees and other objects will appear on the ground in the picture you are taking. Dealing with these unnatural shadows can be really difficult, so you can lessen the amount of those shadows by setting up right by a lake or at the edge of a creek.

rock of gibraltar

Photo by Mark Freeth; ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/160 exposure.

Tip 4: Thoughts when trying to capture a sweeping vista

While you are hiking along the trail, there will be times when the trees seem to open up to a huge vista. You will find the scene of the mountain tops and trees, in the distance, quite irresistible, but no matter how hard you try, the picture you take will not look as beautiful as the scene itself. The reason is that there is never a clear focal point or balance in such a scene. So, no doubt a scene with a sweeping vista looks beautiful, but it is not necessary that the picture you take will look the same.

It often works better to include objects in the foreground as well to add balance and scale to the resulting photograph. Another problem you might face when taking a picture of a sweeping vista is that a blue haze is often produced over the distant mountains because of the atmosphere. Therefore, you can use a yellow filter or a polarizing filter to lessen this, though it cannot be entire removed.

Tip 5: Capturing an entire scene by going very wide

In a landscape picture, it is essential that the entire scene is visible in order to captivate viewers. So, if you are taking a picture in the mountains while hiking, then you will have to make sure that you capture the entire scene or else your views will get distracted from enjoying the scene. The trees in the mountains can be rather tall, but you can avoid taking incomplete pictures by shooting in vertical orientation.

sunset mountain

Photo by Steve Walker; ISO 100, f/16, 1/10 exposure.

No doubt, taking mountain hiking pictures can be rather challenging, and if you want to take splendid pictures of the mountainous landscape then always keep the mentioned tips in mind.

About the Author:
This article was written by Zeeshan Naveed Bari for beginner photographers.

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  1. Very useful and interesting tips! I’ll be sure to utilize this list in the near future. Thank you for posting and I look forward to more!

  2. Great information, thanks. There is nothing better than a fantastic landscape or mountain image but very tricky to get right. This will help me to develop my skills.

  3. Mario says:

    The most important things for landscape photography are IMO:

    1) polarizing filter
    2) high DOF (know you lens at which F-stop diffraction starts)
    3) tripod to deal with slow shutter speeds

    And consider mountain photography as portraiture, so you know where to place the sun to get the desired effect (e.g. low side-light for contrasty mountains)


  4. In my opinion, a polarizing filter is one of the most important thing in landscape photography.


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