15 Quick Tips For Stunning Mountain Photography!

I have had the fortune of photographing mountains for more than 15 years, as well as running photo workshops here, and I am excited to share with you my selection of mountain photography tips which I hope will help and inspire you to capture compelling and evocative images of these natural wonders!

Tips to Get You Going!


1) Capture the big picture! Think of using an ultra wide angle lens (18 mm or shorter) to capture all that makes the mountain landscape so special: Lakes, rivers, waterfalls and, of course, those stunning mountains as a backdrop! Try to make the elements work together harmoniously so that all contribute to the image rather than detract from the visual flow of the scene you are capturing. Please feel free to read my tips for powerful wide angle compositions in nature photography!

Mountain Photography Tips. Turquoise lago Pehoe in front of the Cuernos del Paine and Cerro Paine Grande, Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile. We photograph Lago Pehoe on our Patagonia photo workshop and tour.


An unforgettable morning in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. Gale force winds transform the calm turquoise colored waters of Lake Pehoe into a raging sea, blowing away crashing waves and literally lifting the water off the lake surface, all of this against the unforgettable mountain backdrop of los Cuernos del Paine!


2) Don’t let the weather get you down! The mountains are all about mood and drama, and there is plenty beauty to be captured no matter how bad or dull the conditions may seem. Mountain photography is all about persistence, and you will be duly rewarded!

An example of how you can make the most of challenging conditions, which you fill find very often in a mountain environment. This is the second of 15 tips for mountain photography.


In the rush for glorious light, we often overlook the many photographic opportunities that exist, no matter how bad they seem. A long exposure brought out streaking clouds, complemented by the turquoise waters of Moraine lake, my all time favorite lake of the Canadian Rockies!


3) Use a telephoto! There is infinite beauty and grandeur in the peaks – a whole world waiting to be discovered. A telephoto ( 70 mm up to 400 mm) is the perfect lens for this. The world of peaks is my favourite aspect of the mountain landscape, and it never disappoints! To read more about using the telephoto lens for landscape photography please feel free to read my articles on the telephoto lens for landscape photography as well as using the telephoto to convey a sense of scale.

Our third tip for photographing mountains is to use the telephoto lens to capture a world of drama and grandeur that happens in the mountain peaks.


There is so much fleeting beauty, so much potential, to the world of mountains. It reveals itself over a matter of seconds, before it is gone forever. Far above, barely visible to the naked eye, the peak of Paine Grande, the highest mountain in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine national park, is transformed into a short lived moment of utter beauty.


4) Storms? Great! This is the time to get out there! Storms always promise great light. Instead of avoiding them, pursue them, especially the zone where the storm begins to clear.

Our fourth tip for photographing mountains is to embrace storms and get out there when they happen. Truly beautiful light and special conditions await you, especially when the storm moves in or out.


It was one of those scenes I will never forget. Fast moving rain showers sweep over spotlit black mountain ranges and outcrops, towering over the distant tundra of the vast, remote Peel Watershed in Canada’s Yukon Territory.


5) Patience is a virtue! The most dramatic and beautiful scenes happen when the clouds clear and the mountains are unveiled or, alternatively, when they start moving in. That perfect moment, when the clouds clear or move in just right, is very difficult to predict and you simply have to wait it out. It can be very short lived, a matter of seconds sometimes, and you want to be ready to capture it all before it disappears again!

Our fifth mountain photography tip is to be patient with the weather. Stunning conditions and light happen in the mountains, but not always, and you may need to return several times until that very special moment happens.


A moment of unspeakable beauty as the last light of day touches churning clouds rushing over the ragged cliff faces of South Africa’s Table Mountain.

 

Join us on our 2024 Patagonia photography workshop and explore with us this vast world of mountains, turquoise lakes, giant glaciers, waterfalls and mesmerizing lenga trees, in beautiful autumn colors! To find out more, please visit here!

 


Capture Mountains in Glorious Light!


Have you wondered how best to capture the drama and beauty of mountains when they are painted by that glorious morning light? I hope these quick mountain photography tips will set you on the right path!

1) Capture that Alpenglow! A few minutes before sunrise the peaks of mountains are painted in intense red light, and it is a moment you do not want to miss! It only lasts for three or so minutes before it disappears again, so keep your eyes peeled! To read more about chasing the light and understanding how to read light and use it for landscape photography please feel free to read my article on chasing the light at this link. 

Mount Cerro Torre illuminated by intense, red alpen glow, is reflected in Laguna Torre, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina. We will hike to Mount Cerro Torre during our hiking extension as part of our Patagonia Photo Workshop and Tour.


One of the world’s most majestic granite spires, the unforgettable Mount Cerro Torre in Patagonia, Argentina, is clothed in intense, red alpen glow, its reflection broken by thin layers of ice which formed during the cold, windless night.


2) Clearing clouds unlock the true beauty. To me there is nothing as beautiful as the moment when mountains emerge out of clearing clouds. You will witness beauty you could not have imagined. Don’t let rain get you down. When the rain stops, the mountains emerge, and this is the moment you need to get out there and capture the true beauty and drama of the mountains!

Glorious Mount Fitz Roy emerges from the clouds, as strong winds put an end to a cloudy morning. Patagonia is challenging to photograph, the mountains can be hidden for days, but when they clear, the beauty is unmatched!


3) Get there well before sunrise! When photographing mountains, keep in mind that the twilight of the early morning hours illuminates them significantly earlier than other landscapes you may be used to photograph. With a long exposure you can capture their beauty in soft light.


A long exposure of furious winds blowing clouds past the jagged peaks of Patagonia’s Mount Fitz Roy in Argentina and all of it in the soft, low contrast of the morning twilight. What more can one ask for?


4) Don’t forget the reflections! Warm light on the mountains is great, but this is also the time to capture those beautiful reflections in still waters. Always keep an eye out for them and use a wide angle lens!


Beautiful puffy clouds reflect in the calm waters of Vermillion Lakes in the Canadian Rockies, while the distant mountains catch the first rays of the morning sun.


5) Use a polarizer! The most important filter in photography, in my opinion, it intensifies the colors and sets them off beautifully against the background. When using a wide angle lens, beware of banding.


Shortly after a helicopter had dropped us off in the middle of the Tombstone range in Canada’s Yukon territory, and we had begun hiking towards our first overnight camping site, we noticed ominous clouds and lightning approaching us. We endured strong winds, lightning and painful sleet showers, we were wet and cold, but the light made it worth it. As soon as the skies opened, the magic happened, and we rushed to capture the rapidly changing, awe inspiring beauty!

 

Join us on our 2024 Patagonia photography workshop and explore with us this vast world of mountains, turquoise lakes, giant glaciers, waterfalls and mesmerizing lenga trees, in beautiful autumn colors! To find out more, please visit here!

 


Capture The Human Element!

Have you wondered how best to photograph people in the context of the mountain landscape? I hope these quick tips will set you on the right path

1) Get up close! When you are hiking with a group, run up close to them, and use a wide angle lens. Make sure that the hikers remain separated and that they form a shape, such as a curve, that leads the viewer into the image.


Our group embarks on a hike to our backcountry camp site in the Yukon’s Tombstone Territorial park, shortly after being dropped off by helicopter. Little did we know that we were about to hit by a sleet storm!


2) Transport the viewer to your world Allow the viewer to imagine him or herself experiencing the wonder and awe of the scene you had the privilege of witnessing.


I spent a magical moonlit night in Namibia’s Spitzkoppe mountains, wandering this amazing area of granite boulders and mountain peaks for hours, and capturing the landscape as it was transformed by the moon’s soft, mysterious light. I rarely take self portraits, so please enjoy!


3) Show some emotion! Capture facial expressions and/or body language which convey the moments of joy or struggle of your outdoors experience.


Towards the end of our back country expedition, we had endured an intense snow blizzard in Canada’s Yukon territory and were cooped up in our tents for long periods of time. It was time for us to hike back to where our helicopter had dropped us off, but first we had to struggle through the snow, and endure the cold.


4) Keep your distance! Use a telephoto, and photograph your subject from far away. Telephotos are great for conveying a sense of scale and they are fantastic at capturing hikers or tents far in the distance with a giant mountain looming behind.


The sun spot lights our camp at the base of giant mountains which tower over the tundra of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed, with elevation gains of 1000 m (3000 feet). The sense of scale is breathtaking. We had hiked up a nearby mountain slope for a panoramic view of it all. Our camp site from that high was tiny and I was fortunate to capture it at the moment it was touched by the sun’s rays, as if pointing it out!

5) Don’t forget your campsite! Photographing your campsite embedded in a majestic landscape, in dramatic conditions, is one of the most effective ways to convey your outdoors adventure.


We had witnessed spectacular scenery and explored unknown lands, we enjoyed sunny, mild weather and endured incessant downpours, and we were as happy and felt as enriched as we could be. And finally, towards the end of our expedition into the Yukon’s Peel Watershed, we were treated to snow, lots of it! This is our camp site after a night of snow and for a sense of scale note our team member Teresa as she scales the distant hill!

I hope you found these 15 quick tips useful and that they may help you capture the grandeur and beauty of our world’s magnificent mountains!

 

Join us on our 2024 Patagonia photography workshop and explore with us this vast world of mountains, turquoise lakes, giant glaciers, waterfalls and mesmerizing lenga trees, in beautiful autumn colors! To find out more, please visit here!

 


Related articles:

Tips for wide angle compositions

Chasing the Light

Shadow Light

How I got the shot

Processing Tips

Using the Telephoto for sense of scale

The telephoto for landscape photography

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