Landscapes, animals, hikers in action… there is no lack of photo opportunities in the mountains. In order to ensure that your snaps are as beautiful as possible, François, who is responsible for images at Quechua, teaches us the basics of taking photographs in the mountains :
François, what are the basics you need to know to take a great photo when hiking?
"Some very beautiful hiking photos can be taken with a simple compact camera. You need to respect certain guidelines for framing the photos given that the adjustments on the camera itself are relatively limited. First of all, the most important thing is to keep your camera close at hand, so that you can react when the landscape is at its best. A bag fastened to the shoulder strap of the backpack can be very practical for this purpose."
The rule of thirds
"Then, when framing photo, it's important to respect the so-called 'rule of thirds'. For example, 2 thirds of sky, 1 third 3 of mountains or vice versa. To do this, just imagine that the photo is divided up into 3 parts horizontally and vertically forming 9 identical sections. The points of interest of the photo must be located where the vertical and horizontal lines meet. Consequently, if you are planning to photograph a person, position him or her to the right or left of the frame in such a way that the person is facing inwards."
The ibex, the photographer's friend.
Animals can often be spotted in the mountains, how should they be photographed correctly?
"Without doubt,the easiest mountain animal to be photographed is the ibex. It could even be said that it is the photographer's friend !They can be spotted almost everywhere and you sometimes have the feeling that they are posing for a photo on purpose.
The chamois is more difficult to photograph. It is a much more private animal. When you come across one it is a special, albeit brief, encounter because the chamois is a shy animal. In order to take a beautiful photo of such untamed animals, one can opt for a blind like the ones used by hunters. But hiding, setting up one's equipment and waiting takes a long time and commitment.
A photo of a marmot leaving its burrow in the morning can produce an interesting snap. To do this, you can set up your equipment very early in the morning close to a previously identified hole and lie in wait for the animal to wake up.
Please note that it is easier to photograph the animals in the national parks and nature reserves. They are protected in these areas and are therefore less scared of human beings."
The clouds create beautiful atmospheres.
What do I need to do to take a photo of hikers in action?
In order to take a photo of a hiker or group of people you can use the path on which the hike is planned and its orientation. This can be used to take advantage of the landscape and the light.
A quick tip is that if the hike is passing by a névé, they can be use it to naturally reflect the light. It will light up the people walking on the snow. It is then easy to take beautiful backlit photos. Very light-coloured rocks will have the same reflective effect.
Finally,a hiker in the foreground of a photo helps to give a sense of scale to the mountain landscape located in the background."
Getting up early for the best light.
What about those who would like to get into mountain photography?
"First of all, mountain photography requires certain logistical tools.
A good shot begins with the rule of "getting up early, getting to bed late". The morning and evening light are more suitable for taking beautiful photos. Indeed, particularly in summer, the sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm is too strong and tends to flatten any features. Autumn and spring are the best seasons for taking photos in the mountains because the light is always softer during these times.
What's more, it is worth noting that a pure blue sky is not always a photographer's best friend. An unsettled sky with clouds, whether it is after or before the storm, creates a very interesting atmosphere. However, in order to snap such a photo, you must be sure of your hiking ability, keep informed about the weather forecast and plan a way-out.
Finally, you need to choose a destination and a hike according to the location's orientation. It would be a shame to be in a very beautiful valley when it is in the shade. It's better to choose the side of the mountain according to the time at which you are going hiking. Tip: a hike on a ridge simplifies matters from this point of view and offers up a multitude of different viewpoints."
"In terms of equipment, I personally prefer keeping the camera and lenses in a good hiking backpack that provides suitable protection rather than a camera bag that is not always suited to walking in the mountains. Naturally, you should always take warm and waterproof clothing with you, as well as a headlamp with batteries.
Finally, it is essential that you keep up to date with the weather forecast and that you notify someone about your hiking plans."