Mountain Landscape Photography Tips: Finding The Best Light:

By Geoff Harris

Mountain Landscape Photography Tips: Finding The Best Light:

There are few experiences as exhilarating as trekking in a mountainous landscape. A few years ago I did a three week long trek in the Himalayas, walking a circuit of about 300 km. As you can imagine, it was a huge experience, both physically and emotionally.

You would think it would be easy to come back with stunning photographs from a trip like this – but the camera doesn’t know that you’ve trekked for miles in the pre-dawn dark to a viewpoint to photograph a mountain range at sunrise, and it won’t infuse your image with any more emotion than a picture of your high street at home.

As always, a bit of care and thought is needed so that your photographs really represent the experience that you had.Mountain Landscape Photography Tips: Finding The Best Light:

As in any type of landscape photography, one of the most important things to consider is the light.

Front light (i.e. light that comes from behind you and falls flat onto the mountain that you’re looking at) will not reveal the three-dimensional shape of the mountain as successfully as side light will.

In this photo of the morning moon above a mountain peak, the combination of front light and a long telephoto lens has made the mountain look almost two-dimensional.

Compare this with the second photo here, where the light is coming from about ten o’clock to my position – somewhere between side light and back light. The texture and shape of the mountains is much more apparent.

Mountain Landscape Photography Tips: Finding The Best Light:

Sometimes it’s hard to show the sheer scale of the mountainous landscapes in your photographs. Including some foreground objects such as trees can help with this, and also help to give depth to your image. In this third photo, the small village with its tiny houses and trees help to give an idea of the vastness of the surrounding landscape.

Mountain Landscape Photography Tips: Finding The Best Light:

If you don’t mind people in your landscape photos, then a trekker or two can certainly add a sense of scale, as in this fourth photo.

If you’re photographing mountains with a lot of snow, you will probably need to add some exposure using your exposure compensation dial, so that the brightness of the snow doesn’t fool the camera’s meter into underexposure.

Mountain Landscape Photography Tips: Finding The Best Light:

A polarising filter can add drama by deepening blue skies, but be careful not to overuse a polariser when you’re at high altitudes, as you may end up with a rather unnatural blue to your sky.

One of my favourite ways to photograph a mountain is to find a viewpoint where you can see it reflected in water – not always possible of course, but fantastic if you can find it! If you’re lucky enough to be there when there is no wind, you can get a mirror-like reflection which doubles the impact of the mountain.

If you would like to learn more about landscape photography, why not consider taking my 4 week MyPhotoSchool Online course Fine Art landscape Photography.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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