After my last post on tips and tricks for mountain photography, I responded to a lot of e-mails covering specific queries from fellow photographers. As many of them are interesting I am including them in this list.
Tip 1: When your camera is on a tripod switch VR off
This is something that in the spur of the moment many of us forget. When we put a camera on a tripod the tripod is supposed to keep the camera rock-steady and thus we don’t need VR as well to compensate for camera shake. Those who are using Canon will have IS to be switched off.
Tip 2: When shooting mountain landscapes reduce the aperture for maximum depth of field
We need to be at F11 or even F16 to get maximum depth of field when shooting a landscape, especially if we want sharpness from say three feet to infinity. The only way to achieve this is to stop down the lens and adjust the shutter speed. If the ISO is low say around 200, then in low light the speed may even be 1/15 or 1/8 of a second. A tripod is often called for unless you have very steady hands!
Tip 3: Shooting at night
The half light between dusk and darkness offers some interesting possibilities in the mountains. There is still some light in the sky but there is also some foreground lights which are interesting like the lights of a village. Often if you are close enough and it is a clear evening you can see mountains as well. I try to avoid cranking up the ISO to more than 800 and then setting up the camera on a tripod or support take a series of four or five photographs bracketed around a central exposure. Invariably one of them works the best. It is advised to keep long exposure noise reduction (NR) on for these types of shots. An example of this type of a shot is here http://www.sujoydas.com/Nepal-Himalaya/Kala-Pattar-and-Everest-Spring/17107726_DJR2DG#1296374610_QDCKK5q-L-LB
Tip 4: Panning motion
Sometimes in the mountains we also need to shoot an event e.g. the masked dances at Hemis monastery in Ladakh. Along with the regular shots of the dancers pirouetting around the monastery courtyard, it is interesting to cut back on the shutter speed, say 1/8 or 1/15th of a second and then pan the camera along with the movement of the dancers to capture motion. An example of this sort of a photograph is here http://www.sujoydas.com/Sikkim-Himalaya/Sikkim-Monasteries/8023342_E6Hrs#771051897_53Emn-L-LB
Tip 5: The Polarizing Filter
This filter can often help in bright mountain landscapes to saturate skies and increase contrast to give “more punch” to a photograph. It usually adds two stops to the exposure so a PL filter will require an aperture of say F4 if a non PL needed F8, speed being the same. You can rotate the PL filter once it is mounted on the lens to adjust the level of saturation that you want.
Tip 6: A splash of color in a monochrome landscape
Very often when it snows in the mountains or when a storm is brewing, the landscape is almost monochrome, white snow, grey black clouds, gushing streams etc. In this scenario a very effective technique is to add a splash of color to bring the landscape to life e.g. a red umbrella, or a trekker with a bright jacket walking through the rain or snow. The contrast often creates a photograph which is out of the ordinary.
The monsoon will soon be over and it will be autumn in the mountains in another six weeks. Happy shooting to all of you!
My outfit, South Col Expeditions, is running a five day trek cum photo workshop in the Annapurna hills of
in December 2012. Those of you who may be interested please do visit http://www.southcol.com/Treks-Nepal/Trekking-Annapurna or
e-mail me at email@example.com for more information. Nepal