5 Tips for Landscape Photography in the Mountains

Here's a little tutorial on how to overcome some of the challenges that photographers face when shooting in the mountains:

1. Don't hold your breath for the golden hour
In most places, the golden hour (just before sunset or after sunrise) is one of the best times to shoot landscape photography.  The warm light spread across the landscape is beautiful and makes just about any scene look fantastic. When shooting near tall mountains, however, the golden hour is often completely missing or at least lessened.

2. Overcome contrast with grad ND
Usually, the light from the sky hits the landscape fairly evenly.  However, in the mountains, a ridge can be totally in the shadow and then have the bright sky right above it.  For photography, this means that either the sky has to be blown out, or you must lose shadow detail in the mountains because the dynamic range is too low on most cameras. This is why a graduated neutral density filter is absolutely essential for landscape photography in the mountains.  

3. A sweeping vista isn't always a beautiful photo
A common problem that is found with sweeping vista shots in the mountains is that the atmosphere often produces a blue haze over the mountains in the distance.  This can be lessened somewhat with a polarizing filter or a yellow filter, but it’s impossible to remove completely.

4. Search diligently for a good foreground element
The trouble with photography in the mountains is that the scenes are so busy.  There are trees, bushes, rocks, roots, dirt, and streams everywhere you look, so it can be difficult to set up the shot so one item is the focal point in the foreground.

5. You have to go Very wide to capture the entire scene
A good landscape photo has a composition that makes the viewer feel that they are seeing the entire scene.  If the viewer feels that they are missing something in the photo, it will distract them from enjoying the scene.

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