Photography at High Altitude: The Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal

Photography at High Altitude: The Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal


This guest post was submitted by one of our Indian readers – Mridula Dwivedi – who describes her recent trek to the Everest Base Camp.

A Peak through the Clouds, Pheriche, Nepal.JPG

I trekked up to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side in May 2012. I work as an academician in India but photography and travel are very dear to me. It has never been a problem for me to get out and try to get some good pictures. I usually take my pictures after some thought using either shutter priority or the manual mode.
All this became my undoing on this high altitude trek. I was doing this trip as a trek and not as a photography tour. So I had to walk from point A to B every day apart from the two rest days I had.

I realized that the sun rises from the Everest side so all the interesting peaks like Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam get smothered into harsh light very soon in the morning. And in the evening the clouds would rule. So all the big peaks catch light and glow at sunset and not sunrise. Keep this in mind when you plan your trip.

If that was not enough, I would get so tried walking that even when I saw stunning scenery around my mind would not react. The trek starts at the height of (2860 meters, 9383 feet) and if you do the Kala Patthar bit too as I did it ends at (5545 meters, 18,192 feet). My sleep and appetite were seriously messed up above 5000 meters. It was the first time on a trip I was not interested in photography and I found that upsetting.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal.JPG

Another bit that was contributing to the turmoil was the sound advice you get, use your camera in the manual mode, and get out of the automatic mode. On this trek I was not even sure if I would be able to haul myself up to the next tea house or not. My heart beat would beat in my mouth at elevations higher than 4000 meters and I was not reacting to the magnificent scenes in front of me what to say about using manual modes.

You know what saved the trip and made me take pictures, some reasonable pictures? I just put the camera in Flash Off mode and starting clicking. There are times when we need to pay less heed to accepted photography wisdom and this was one such time for me.

I still was been able to get 12 of my Nepal images selected on Getty and they have also featured on Yahoo! India Lifestyle.

So the next time you find yourself on high altitude or any other unfamiliar circumstances, be flexible and see what works for you! It could be the Flash Off mode!

Mridula Dwivedi is an academician from India and blogs at Travel Tales from India. She is passionate about trekking, travel and photography.

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Some Older Comments

  • selena August 19, 2012 02:56 am

    did I say manual mode? I meant auto mode.

  • selena August 19, 2012 02:48 am

    What a wonderful bit of advise. And yours too Sue Hutchins. Thank you for making it "ok" to use manual mode :)
    I too will be going to EBC but we are going through the North Side via Tibet. I can't wait! Any advice about which lense to use?

  • Calin August 17, 2012 02:25 am

    Good to know, I didn't reached so high mountains yet...but if I get there I'll remember what you said. Thank you.

  • Sue Hutchins August 17, 2012 02:01 am

    The engineers put a LOT of time and thought into making these computers work well on Auto or Flash Off mode. There are times when we just need to have faith in the tools they have given us and we have paid for. I call my Mode Dial my 'Mood Dial', as it so depends on what mood i'm in which one I select. With lots of time, energy and attention, I choose a creative mode. When in challenging circumstances, it makes sense to use the more automatic modes.

  • louis dallara August 10, 2012 08:25 am

    Great story, I felt like I was on Everest

  • sreenivasa sudheendra August 9, 2012 07:12 pm

    thanks a lot for the nice advice :)

  • Anil August 9, 2012 02:18 pm

    A very sound advice. And your photos of the EBC are brilliant.

  • Scottc August 9, 2012 09:29 am

    Cool stuff, and an incredible photo! Thanks for sharing this story.

    I'll have to keep my altitude challenges a bit lower.

  • Pat August 9, 2012 09:20 am

    Always a pleasure reading about the himalayan mountains :))

    The trek up to base camp, done in may 2011.

    There's a series of photos at the end also..

    Cheers! Pat

  • Alexander Catastroff August 9, 2012 03:39 am

    That's pretty awesome! I could probably never do Everest though. I will be travelling to the Canadian Rockies and taking pictures up there, as well as all the other National parks throughout Canada and the US we'll see.

  • raghavendra August 9, 2012 02:03 am

    sounds little scary with the heights and all,
    All the best mridula mam,
    may your photographic adventures and travels brings you more success in your life :)