Climbing With Your Photos

There are different ways to do climbing photography, depending on where you are and what you want to show. Let’s take mountain climbing for example. Basically, you take pictures while you’re climbing. If you only take a close up of your partner, it’s not that interesting, so you need to include some background to show how high up you are, what kind of climbing you’re doing and so on. Climbing photography is actually closer to scenic photography, except you want to convey that you’re living an adventure and not just taking a picture of some mountain from the roadside.

There are three basic kinds of pictures that can come from a climbing expedition: climber close up, pure landscape and climber(s) included in the scenery. It’s quite important to vary those shots, especially if you’re showing a slideshow of your trip. No one wants to see 100 pictures of mountains in a row, even if they are all perfect!

On the other hand, take rock climbing photography. You want to show the difficulty, the movement and the strength of the climber, but you’re not particularly interested in the rock itself. For that, you need to act more like a real photographer. You have a subject and the need to show it in a certain way. You need to be a better photographer by making sure the light is right (climbers always have their face in the dark against the rock), finding the proper angle, managing facial expressions, etc.

The Right Time

Mostly, when in the mountains, the trade secret for the best landscapes is to take your pictures at the right time. For example, around sunset or sunrise, you have a 10 minute window when the light is perfect.

Avoid taking pictures in the middle of the day, unless the light of the sun is parallel to a cliff, thus casting long shadows off tiny outcrops and highlighting details. Watch for cloud movements as well. Those are just a few suggestions you can follow when taking climbing photos. Happy shooting!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami