Simple Tips to Improve Your Travel Photography – Photographing Mountains, Hills and Valleys

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Simple Tips to Improve Your Travel Photography – Photographing Mountains, Hills and Valleys

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Mountain_Eiger_KavDadfar

There really aren’t many scenes that can match the sheer awe of a snowcapped mountain in a landscape image; but capturing an image that might do the scene justice isn’t always straightforward.

Here are some simple tips to help you next time you are looking to photograph mountains, hills and valleys in your travel photography:

Be Patient

Photography can be incredibly frustrating at times, especially when the weather goes against you; and very rarely will you get to a location and have everything in place to make a great photo. Sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for the right moment when the clouds disperse or the fog lifts. The weather in the mountains, and even hills, can change incredibly quickly so make sure you are aware of weather forecasts before you set off and always tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.

Valleys_Wales_KavDadfar

It was 9.30pm and after I had waited almost an hour, the sun finally broke through the clouds.

Lighting is Key

In landscape photography, often just the lighting can make all the difference between a good shot and a great shot. Early morning and late afternoon light gives the scene a wonderful golden glow and emphasizes shadows. Think about which direction the light is coming from and be prepared to come back another time to the same location to catch the best light.

Light_Mountains_KavDadfar

The late afternoon light illuminates the Eiger beautifully.

Think About the Foreground

Just because you are photographing a mountain in the distance doesn’t mean you can forget about the foreground; good landscape images usually also contain something interesting close to the camera. So next time you are photographing into the distance, have a think about how you could incorporate a tree, a stream, some people or animals, or even some rocks to give your image more depth and also a sense of scale.

Scotland_KavDadfar

An interesting foreground can make your photo look more appealing and also guide the viewer’s eyes into the distance.

Place Your Horizon Carefully

Your horizon is one of the most important parts of the photo. Think about the rule of thirds and avoid putting your horizon in the middle. If the scene has an interesting foreground or an uninteresting sky (i.e. white clouds) place your horizon high. Alternatively, if you have interesting cloud formations or light you could place your horizon lower to show more of the sky.

Horizon_Mountains_KavDadfar

If the sky isn’t interesting place place your horizon higher.

Think Vertical

Naturally most landscape shots are taken in landscape format (horizontal); however don’t be afraid to experiment photographing in portrait (vertical). This works especially well if you want to isolate a narrower view of the scene and lead the viewer into the distance. But remember, your foreground is possibly even more vital as you might be showing more of it.

Mountains_Switzerland_KavDadfar

The ski lines in the snow and the two very small people add a bit of interest to the foreground.

Adapt to the Weather

Stormy skies, rain, mist and even fog can all contribute to making a photo look even more dramatic. So if you find yourself not getting sunshine and blue skies, don’t despair; instead think of how you could adapt the image to match the mood in the scene. Don’t forget to be patient; you never know, a beautiful blue sky could only be a few minutes away.

Weather_Mountains_Switzerland

The clouds help to frame the top of the mountain in this photo.

There are few images that wow an audience like a beautiful mountainous landscape, but it takes skill, hard work, and perseverance to capture unique and beautiful shots of mountainous areas. Just remember to be patient, follow the tips above, and you’ll be on your way. Please remember – always stay safe!

Now it’s your turn. Share your photos, thoughts and tips below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kav Dadfar is a professional travel and landscape photographer based in London. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising but loved nothing more than photography and travelling. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty, Axiom Photographic, and Alamy and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, American Express and many more. Follow his travels and imagery on Instagram and Facebook.

  • David Long

    Good tips. Here are a couple of my mountain shots.

  • Pro Photographer

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Pro Photographer

    Love the images. Hate the frames.

  • Kav Dadfar

    No problem. Hope it was useful.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Lovely shots. I especially love the last one. Nice work.

  • David Long

    Many thanks.

  • B_Justa

    Great tips… I never thought of taking a landscape shot in portrait. I usually end up taking a wider picture if I want more of foreground and the sky.
    Here is one that I took at my village, there are some errors but I used my P&S which doesn’t let me change anything other than ISO and WB. I took around 20 images and merged them together.

  • B_Justa

    Great tips… I never thought of taking a landscape shot in portrait. I usually end up taking a wider picture if I want more of foreground and the sky.
    Here is one that I took at my village, there are some errors but I used my P&S which doesn’t let me change anything other than ISO and WB. I took around 20 images and merged them together.

  • Kav Dadfar

    What an amazing place to live! And what a view! Nice shot. Try to boost some of the contrast in the background. I would also love to see what this scene looks like with a soft light (early morning or late afternoon) behind you (so that it is lighting up the valley). But nice work!

  • Ron

    The long beach Queens Day

  • Kav Dadfar

    Nice shot. HDR?

  • Liz

    I am headed to Peru for two weeks. Going from the Amazon to Macchu Pichu. I would like to rent one awesome lens for the trip. What would you recommend?

  • mayoor

    Good tips! Here is one I shot at Everest Base Camp in November ’14.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Fantastic shot and beautifully composed. Well done!

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi Liz

    If I was to only carry one lens with me it would be my 24-70mm. This is my workhorse lens. But it really depends on what you are planning on photographing. For example if you are after landscapes then you would want something like a 24-70mm. But if you are planning on photographing wildlife you may want a 70-200mm. I always carry 24-70mm and 70-200mm as a minimum and then add to it accordingly with macro lenses or prime lenses. Hope this helps (and enjoy your trip).

    Kav

  • Genevieve Laurin

    The “very small people” comment in the mountain pic above made me think of this one I took in Greece, with my very basic p&s camera. 🙂

  • Kav Dadfar

    Brave people! Nice shot which shows the scale of the rock face.

  • B_Justa

    Thanks. 🙂 I’ll try that in the morning next time, when the sun lights up both the foreground and the background. Unfortunately, this place doesn’t get much light after 3pm in summers and around 2pm in winters so I can’t take a golden light shot here(if that is what you meant).

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