Mountain landscapes are some of the most popular photography subjects.
They offer breathtaking scenery and unparalleled opportunities for creative compositions.
If you’re looking to take your mountain landscape photography to the next level, check out these 20 tips. From getting the right gear to capturing the perfect shot, we’ve got you covered!
What is Mountain Photography?
Mountain photography is a genre of landscape photography that focuses on mountains and other natural features.
It often includes photographing the sunrise or sunset from a high vantage point, as well as photos of climbers and hikers.
Mountain photography can be challenging, as it often requires hikes to reach the best vantage points. However, the results can be stunning, offering a unique perspective on the natural world.
In addition to traditional film cameras, digital cameras and drones have increasingly become popular tools for capturing mountain landscapes.
Whether you’re an experienced photographer or just getting started, mountain photography is a great way to explore the outdoors and capture the beauty of nature.
Mountain Photography Tips
Let’s dive into the 20 mountain landscape photography tips that you should know if you’re looking to get started in mountain photography or want to improve your current skills!
Our first few tips will revolve around some tips you should take into account before even capturing your first image.
1. Pick the Right Time of Day
The time of day can have a big impact on your mountain landscape photos.
For example, the Golden Hour –– the hour before sunset and after sunrise –– is a popular time to photograph mountains. The soft, warm light can give your photos a beautiful glow.
Experiment with different times of day to see how it affects your photos. You may also want to consider photographing during different seasons for a different look.
2. Check the Weather Forecast
Before heading out to photograph mountains, be sure to check the weather report.
You’ll want to avoid days with high winds, as this can make it difficult to keep your camera steady.
It’s also a good idea to have an idea of what the temperature will be like. If it’s too cold, you risk your camera and lenses fogging up. If it’s too hot, you risk overheating your gear.
Also, as you might expect, the forecast can have a big impact on mountain photography.
If there’s a chance of rain or snow, it’s best to reschedule your shoot. Not only will the weather make it difficult to take good photos, but it can also be dangerous to hike in slippery conditions.
3. Dress for the Occasion
In addition to checking the weather, be sure to dress appropriately for the conditions.
Wear layers so you can adjust to changes in temperature. And make sure to wear sturdy shoes with good traction. This will help you keep your footing on slippery or uneven terrain.
4. Watch for Clouds
Clouds can add drama to your mountain photos, but they can also be a nuisance.
If the sky is completely covered in clouds, you may not be able to get the clear, blue sky shots that you’re after. However, if there are just a few wispy clouds, they can add a nice touch to your photos.
5. Choose Your Hiking Route Carefully
When planning your mountain photography hike, be sure to choose a route that is within your abilities.
Stick to well-marked trails and pay attention to trail closures and warnings. It’s also a good idea to hike with a partner in case of emergencies.
6. Pick a Good Lens
The first step to taking great mountain photos is to have the right gear. A good starting point is to invest in a quality DSLR camera with a versatile lens.
For mountain photography, we recommend a wide-angle lens. This will allow you to capture the grandeur of the landscape while still getting sharp photos.
If you’re looking for an even wider field of view, consider a fisheye or ultra-wide angle lens.
These lenses can be great for capturing the sweeping curves of mountains and other natural features. Just keep in mind that they can distort your images, so use them sparingly.
7. Use That Tripod
Another important consideration is a tripod. Mountain landscapes often require long exposures, so a tripod is essential for keeping your camera steady.
Invest in a quality tripod that is sturdy and easy to carry. This will help you get the sharpest photos possible.
8. Fill the Frame
When you’re taking photos of mountains, it’s easy to get caught up in the vastness of the landscape. But remember, you don’t have to include the entire mountain or mountain peak in your frame.
In fact, sometimes it’s more effective to fill the frame with a smaller section of the mountain. This can help emphasize the details and texture of the mountain.
Plus, if you only fill the frame with part of the mountain, your viewers will still know that it’s a mountain.
If you wanted to capture a subject that’s in front of the mountain and you tried to capture the whole mountain as well, it just wouldn’t work.
9. Show Scale with Smaller Subjects
Including people or other small objects in your frame can help show the scale of the landscape.
This is a popular technique for mountain photography and can often lead to beautiful results.
To get the best results, position your smaller subject off to the side or in the foreground. This will help create a more interesting composition and give your viewers a sense of the size of the landscape.
10. Include a Foreground Element
Adding a foreground element to your photo can help create depth and interest.
Look for rocks, plants, or other features that you can use to add some foreground interest.
Remember to focus on your foreground element when taking the photo. This will ensure that it’s sharp and in focus.
11. Use Leading Lines
Leading lines are a great way to add interest and depth to your photos.
In mountain photography, leading lines can be created by rivers, roads, or even the mountains themselves.
Look for ways to use leading lines in your compositions to lead the eye into the photo.
12. Find a Unique Perspective
One of the best ways to make your mountain photos stand out is to find a unique perspective.
Instead of taking the same old photo from the same old spot, try to get creative with your compositions.
Look for interesting angles and vantage points. Climb to the top of a hill or mountain, or even venture off the beaten path.
The more unique your perspective, the more interesting your photos will be.
Just make sure to location scout beforehand so you don’t end up in a dangerous trail while trying to get the perfect capture.
13. Try a Panoramic Photo
If you really want to capture the grandeur of the mountains, try a panoramic photo. This is a great way to include a lot of detail in your photos and really show off the size of the landscape.
To take a panoramic photo, simply stitch together multiple photos into one large image.
There are many software programs that can help you do this, or you can even do it manually.
To further explore how to create a panoramic, I recommend this video by Gary Gough:
14. Use a Neutral Density Filter
A neutral density filter is a great way to reduce the amount of light that enters your camera. T
his can be helpful when you’re taking long exposure photos or want to use a large aperture.
Neutral density filters come in various strengths, so you can choose one that’s right for your needs. Just make sure to attach it to your lens before you start taking photos.
15. Try Focus Stacking
Focus stacking is a technique that allows you to capture sharp photos even at very low apertures. This is especially helpful when taking landscape photos, as it allows you to get a large depth of field.
To focus stack, simply take multiple photos at different focus points and then combine them into one image. This will give you an image with a large depth of field, even if you used a very low aperture.
There are many software programs that can help you focus stack, so experiment with different ones to see what works best for you.
To further explore how to focus stack, I recommend this video by Alex Armitage:
16. Leverage Reflections on the Water
Reflections can add a lot of interest and drama to your photos. If you’re taking mountain photos near a lake or river, look for ways to include the reflections in your composition.
For the best results, try to position yourself so that the reflections are in the lower part of the frame. This will help create a more balanced photo.
17. Take Advantage of Bad Weather
Listen, you could do all the planning by checking the weather forecast and going at the perfect time — but sometimes the weather is unpredictable. A sunny session could turn into a foggy, rainy situation in a matter of minutes.
If this happens, no need to worry!
Bad weather can actually make for some great mountain photos. Fog, clouds, and even rain can add a sense of drama and mystery to your photos.
So next time you’re stuck in a storm, don’t be discouraged. Use it to your advantage and see what kind of magical photos you can create.
18. Have Patience
Mountain landscapes are constantly changing, so it’s important to be patient when photographing them. The light and weather conditions can rapidly change, so it’s important to be ready to take advantage of any situation.
It could be a really cloudy day and you may have to wait for the clouds to clear to get the perfect image.
If you’re patient and keep your camera at the ready, you’ll be able to capture some amazing mountain photos.
19. Keep Your Lens Clean
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to keep your lens clean when taking mountain photos.
Dust and dirt can easily get on your lens, which can impact the quality of your photos.
To avoid this, simply keep a lens cloth handy and wipe off your lens before taking each photo. This will help ensure that your photos are as sharp and clear as possible.
20. Keep it Simple
When composing your mountain photos, sometimes less is more. Instead of trying to include everything in the scene, focus on one main subject.
This could be a peak, a river, or even a lone tree. By keeping the composition simple, you can really make the subject stand out. So next time you’re photographing a mountain landscape, try to focus on one main element.
How to Start Mountain Photography?
Now that you know some mountain photography tips, it’s time to get out there and start taking some photos!
If you’re new to landscape photography, start by visiting a local park or hiking trail. This will help you get comfortable with the equipment and give you a chance to practice your composition skills.
Once you feel confident, plan a trip to a more mountainous area. This will give you the opportunity to really put your skills to the test.
With a little practice, you’ll be taking amazing mountain photos in no time!
Mountain photography can be a challenging but rewarding genre. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to taking some stunning photos.
Don’t forget to have patience, keep your lens clean, and most importantly, have fun!
This article is also a part of our Landscape Photography Resources Hub, so be sure to check that out for additional landscape photography tips.
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate runs his own professional photography business called Nate Torres Photography. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.