Some of the most beautiful scenery for photographing can be found in the high mountains of this world. But high mountains alone are not necessarily enough for unique mountain photos. Even if the motive presents itself still so impressively.
But if you follow a few basic rules about composition and composition and then catch the right time of day, you can shoot really great pictures in the mountains.
Over the years, I’ve pored over many journals, watched webinars and countless YouTube videos to educate myself in my hobby. Over time, some tips and tricks have crystallized out of it, which have really helped me with my photos in the mountains.
So today I’m going to show you 9 tips that will help your mountain photos on the next tour even more interesting and chic are!
I have been using one for several years Sony A6000, after looking for a lighter alternative for my SLR camera.
1. Note also with mountain photos the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is one of the the most basic and oldest means of composition in photography, to make a picture more interesting for the viewer. Thereby the photo horizontally and vertically divided into equal thirds (see photos).
Now the most interesting or important elements of the picture are placed at one of the intersections of these lines and thus moved from the center. Which intersection or third line you now use for your image element(s) is not so crucial. Alone the fact that the Main subject not placed in the center of the picture makes the photo more attractive.
If I had photographed the Refugio Piscardú centrally in the following picture, some of the picture effect would have disappeared and the photo would have become much more boring. Thus, a large part of the Sella massif is still visible, which puts the proportions of the hut to the mountain in a good relationship. With mountain photos I also find it nicer when the silhouette of the mountain massif not on the center of the image but a little higher towards the edge of the picture, on the upper third line.
For the horizon the same applies. If I place it exactly on the half of the picture, the photo looks boring and makes the impression of a quickly shot snapshot. In addition, the sky and the earth would then be equally emphasized and the viewer would not be able to tell which is the more important part of the photo.
But if I set the horizon on the upper horizontal third line (as in the following photo), then I weight the part of the earth more strongly. The other way round is of course also possible. Additionally I aligned my girlfriend and the sun to the vertical third lines to emphasize these two parts of the picture.
In general, it can be said that photos that follow the rule of thirds are seem more exciting, varied and interesting. With most cameras, you can also get a one-third grid directly in the viewfinder or. show on the display as help. On the later photo of course nothing of it is to be seen then more.
Mountain photos picture gallery
2. Use leading lines
diagonal lines lead the viewer into the picture and can lead the way to the most important picture element. For mountain photos, the leading lines are Fences or hiking trails especially well, but of course there are no limits to creativity!
It is also interesting when the fences or hiking trails start in one of the lower corners of the picture. In the western countries, it also makes sense to use the leading lines from the left corner of the picture to start, since our reading direction is from left to right. Our eyes are therefore trained to start on the left when looking at a photo.
By using leading lines you determine how the viewer’s gaze should run and where it will finally arrive.
3. Playing with the depth of field
Typically, mountain photos are best to be crisp from front to back. If the foreground, middle ground and background are evenly sharp, then one speaks of a large depth of field, as you can see on the following picture.
If you use a camera where the aperture can be adjusted manually, then choose a small aperture and a high f-number (from f/11 upwards), to get the whole picture sharp. If you have a compact camera that does not allow you to manually adjust the aperture, then choose in the Scene mode "Landscape from. In this automatic mode, the camera automatically sets a high aperture number to achieve the same effect of a high depth of field.
Sometimes one would like to have however exactly not. For example, if you want only a certain element of the image to be in focus, but you want the rest of the image to be out of focus, then you need a shallow depth of field. To achieve this, there are several possibilities.
On the one hand there is the possibility to To get as close as possible to your subject. Some cameras additionally offer the setting of a macro mode, which allows you to get even closer with the lens to your subject. If you focus on it now, the background already blurs a bit into blur.
To enhance this effect even more, you can use open the aperture wider, which reduces the f-number and the depth of field. The lower the f-stop number, the blurrier the image background becomes. Compact cameras often have scene programs that produce a similar effect.
But if you want to achieve very strong blur effects, there is no way around the use of a professional camera and a lens of equal quality. This should be very bright (aperture 1.8 and down) to allow a very shallow depth of field due to the large aperture. This will be reduced by your use of a Camera with full frame sensor* still enhanced.
4. Shoot in RAW and develop yourself
By default, most cameras are set up so that the pictures are taken in the familiar JPEG format be saved. This does save memory on the SD card, but is suitable not very good for later digital postprocessing of the photos, because a lot of image and brightness information is removed during the process of saving the photo.
If you photograph in RAW format, then all this information is preserved and thus allows a much greater potential in post-processing. If a RAW photo is overexposed or underexposed, has a wrong white balance, is noisy or has too little sharpness, you can easily correct it afterwards on the PC. This is only possible to a very limited extent with JPEG. As a result, the memory requirements of a RAW photo also grow, of course. On average, that’s about 20 MB per photo.
The RAW photo shown below is okay in terms of exposure, but the image looks very low in contrast and saturation. Although the mood was really great when I shot the photo in the afternoon, it doesn’t really come across in the picture that comes out of the camera like that.
After editing in the RAW converter Adobe Lightroom* the whole thing looks already different. The foreground has been brightened up a bit, all areas of the image have get much more structure, the light mood now matches the seen moment and the image has much more contrast and saturation, which makes the sky in the background and the green meadows stand out better.
Personally, I’ve been shooting in RAW for a few years now and I’m super happy with the post-processing options every time. If you want to get the most out of your images and enjoy post-processing photos, then shoot in RAW!
Unfortunately not all compact cameras have the possibility to save the photos in RAW format. But if you are about to buy a new camera, I can only recommend you to buy one that has this possibility. Even if you prefer to shoot in JPEG format at the beginning, you might be tempted to get more out of your pictures later on.
If the professional program Adobe Lightroom* is too expensive for you, there are other software with which you can develop your RAW images! Here you can find a comparison of the different programs at ColorFoto.en.
Annotation: All photos shown in this article were shot in RAW and then post-processed in Lightroom.
5. There is no bad weather for mountain photos
Not only with bright blue sky and best hiking weather it is worth to pull out the camera. I also enjoy shooting more in postcard weather, but that doesn’t mean the camera has to stay home on cloudy, rainy or stormy days. On the contrary.
Because especially the interesting cloud formations, which entwine around the mountain massifs or pile up to endless heights can be very interesting motifs.
And if you are lucky, the sun still dares to come out of hiding and you can enjoy the mostly sunny days very special light mood looking forward!
6. Use the golden hour
The hour after sunrise and before sunset becomes the golden hour called. In this time the sun is already very low and dips the landscape in rich red and orange tones. This gives especially the mountain photos a special charm.
If many different mountain ranges or peaks are visible one after the other, then they stand out from each other by different brightnesses. This creates a very nice multi-layered impression, as the mountains can be seen as individual planes. If some clouds then hang in front of and over the summit, this moment creates an incredibly interesting and charming atmosphere.
In such a case one should know his camera well and be able to use, in order to have immediately the correct attitude ready. Because this mood is usually only of short duration.
7. composition: foreground, middle, background
Interesting images are multi-layered and thus produce as 2 dimensional media a spatial impression. And to achieve this complexity, it is helpful in the images a Foreground, middle and background to have. This also makes your pictures more interesting and makes them stand out from the crowd.
In the following image the person looking into the distance is the foreground, the dark mountain ranges represent the middle ground and the bluish colored mountains of the Piedmont Alps and the rising sun mark the background of the image.
8. Don’t just use wide angle
When you are in the mountains and the sun is shining from the blue sky, you want to leave the camera permanently in the wide angle setting to capture as much as possible of the wonderful landscape on a photo.
This may not be wrong for many motifs, but every now and then it helps the composition of the picture and its effect very much, if you use the Zoomed in to make the image a bit smaller. So the viewer targeted directed to a certain area of the landscape, which you consider to be particularly impressive.
The majestic character of the mountains does not have to suffer due to the smaller image detail, as can be seen in the following photo from the Dolomites.
9. Dull colors? Make it black and white!
In the image shown below it was really difficult to get a nice mood and vivid color even with RAW development. In such hazy and rainy weather in the mountains it can sometimes not be easy to get great pictures. Everything seems to degenerate into a gray mass.
In such a case it can be then very helpful that image simply to show it in black and white. If already nothing more from the colors (which are hardly present in this picture anyway) to get out, then you can also just leave them out completely.
A conversion to a black and white image is possible in almost all image editing programs. Afterwards I increased the contrast quite a bit, reduced the exposure a bit, but increased the white tones at the same time. The result looks in my eyes already much better than the original and has additionally got a somewhat dramatic character.
Do you have some tips for great photos in the mountains?? Then post it in the comments!
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Written by Alex
Packed backpacks, long hikes and jagged mountain panoramas give Alex the greatest pleasure. With the 550 km long Traumpfad Munich Venice started in 2014 his long-distance hiking passion. In addition to numerous tours in the Alps, the German low mountain ranges and on the Balearic Islands, his longest long-distance hike was in 2017. With his girlfriend, he set out on a 1900 km crossing of the Alps from Vienna to Nice. For more than 4 months only the two backpacks were her home. In the meantime, he prefers to travel in the Swiss Alps and the Black Forest and manages the ultralight backpack manufacturer WeitLaufer.