Ansel Adams said, “You don’t take a picture, you take it.” You can see a wonderful mountain in front of you, take a picture of it and be as disappointed as a wave-free surfer. However, you can have before you a most anodyne scene and achieve an impressive image if you know how to do it. That’s why today I’m going to leave you some tips to photograph mountains, so when you go out to the mountains, on your trips or on your photographic escapes you’ll know how to take a photograph of these geographical features. And you won’t just be in the more than-probably disappointing act of taking an image nor will you end up boring the staff.
It is not a matter of making a portrait with the mountain in the background as if it were a tourist and stating that he has been there. The main character is the mountain, so the person you include will serve to create a scale of dimension, that is, to show the real size of the big rock, since if there is no reference the public will not be able to intuit its size. Including people also adds interest in the image, the viewer will feel more identified and, therefore, attracted.
If you still don’t know, lines are a great compositional resource that you will not only find in architecture and cities, they are also present in nature. They help to order the composition, to guide the gaze, to create sensations. Include them in your mountain photography and you will see how the image becomes more attractive to the viewer’s eye. You can perform the test, photograph a mountain without further ado and photograph it including some lines that lead the viewer to a point of interest, or to the rock itself.
And speaking of lines, I have to remember that there are different types of lines and that each one causes different sensations. The most powerful lines in a mountain landscape are the diagonals and the “S” I tell you about below. To include a diagonal line in a mountain photograph is to provoke a tension and a force in the image that you will find difficult to achieve with other types of lines.
If you also include people ascending or descending this diagonal you will be able to manage the feelings of the public to your whim. I’ll tell you, it’s not the same emotion or the same tension that occurs when someone ascends. The effort, the fatigue and the fact that there is still time to reach the finish line do not transmit the same sensation as a more relaxed and calm descent.
Include an “S”
The curved line, or rather the double curved line, which forms an “S” is very seductive. It is widely used in landscape photography, using roads, roads, rivers or streams, marks on fields or even the very drawing of mountains. The “S” alone adds beauty to the image. Sometimes its presence will be very evident, other times it will be more subtle, but in one way or another, it works. Try it, you’ll see how this trick doesn’t disappoint you.
If you have water near you, a river, a lake… don’t miss the opportunity to photograph their reflections. The symmetry that is achieved is usually very attractive, but try not to be a perfect symmetry because then you can fall twice into the boredom of the viewer.
Reflections are best achieved when the water is not very illuminated and the motif to be reflected is. If you want the reflection to be clear, photograph it when the water is calmer. A polarizing filter and a wide-angle lens will help. Use small apertures (f number / high) and change the angle if you don’t get a good view of the reflection.
Light is the most important element in a photograph. Learning to handle light is like having the master key, a magic wand.
Summarizing a lot here are some clues:
- Use the side light of the sunset to highlight shadows and details on winding slopes, cliffs…
- You can also play with it to create contrast and drama.
- Remember that cloudy days flatten the light, if you want a quiet, relaxing landscape can be your ideal light.
- The hard and zenithal light of the midday drowns the shadows so it takes away detail from the mountains.
- The sunset light will give you a beautiful golden color.
Photographs bathed in fog have a halo of mystery and even a certain dreamlike character. A foggy mountain will almost always be more interesting than a clear rock. Don’t let the fog stop you, on the contrary, it must be your perfect excuse to go out with your camera.
If you have any questions about photographing landscapes in fog, take a look at this article.
Black and white
A way of adding drama to an image, that is, that it has a greater impact, that it is engraved on the retina and remains in the memory of those who contemplate it, is black and white. Always? Of course you don’t. Not all photographs look good in black and white, you have to know how to look. But don’t panic, here are 12 tips for capturing stunning black-and-white landscapes or tips for better black-and-white photography.
And if you want to delve deeper into black and white, I recommend The Complete Guide to Black and White Photography, published by Blog del Fotógrafo.
Here’s an example of an impressive grayscale mountain photograph.
If you plan to include a good part of the sky in the frame when photographing a mountain, try to make it a day with many clouds. Clear skies can be very tempting to go for a walk, but in a photo they are too dull and boring. Avoid them.
Notice that the above examples are all with clouds, see?
It is also known as atmospheric perspective and is enhanced by environmental conditions such as fog or rain. If you manage to capture it you will add a lot of depth to the scene and the viewer will have the sensation of being inside the landscape. A scene that is too flat, more so if it is a landscape (and mountainous) is more than likely to be very boring.
You can also gain depth by including elements in the foreground, so that your photograph consists of a foreground, elements in the background, and a third plane with your mountains.
Play with color. This doesn’t mean that you over saturate the image, it won’t be boring, but it will be so squeaky that it can hurt your eyes. This is a mistake that we make a lot at the beginning, try not to fall into it yourself. Use colors with elegance and intelligence. Bright colors without saturating, colors of the dusk or dawn… The important thing is that you know how to handle the light well to achieve this purpose.
I told you almost at the beginning of the article that you can provoke one type of emotion or another simply by changing a descent for an ascent. You can also transmit feelings of calm and / or tranquility including a person in an attitude of rest, or nostalgia or melancholy with a low contrast, or playing with colors. The ultimate goal of photography is to excite and, even if you find it hard to believe, you have that power with your camera.
There are different ways of introducing contrast into an image, either by using light, colour, the contrasts of the landscape itself, of the sky or, as in the image in the example, contrasts related to climate or meteorology. There is no doubt that a contrast like this adds attractiveness to the image. If you get a good contrast, your image won’t go unnoticed, much less bore the staff.
This is the best advice I’m going to give you, if you don’t practice, if you don’t go out with your camera to look for mountains, no matter how much you read this article or another hundred, no matter how much you learn them by heart, if you only go out one day to take a picture I assure you that the result will be very disappointing. These tips will help you, but what will really help you is to put them into practice.
Thanks for getting here. If you find it interesting, I would greatly appreciate it if you could show it with a “I like it” and/or share it in your favorite social network. See you soon!