e f i L f O y e n r u Jo CRA
.M J . G I
Y H T R CA
There are many different reasons to take pictures while hiking, observes photography expert and book author Alexandre Buisse, and we should be aware of the ones that really motivate us. While it may be easy to take snapshots when the weather is good, the trail easy, and the camera lightweight, when conditions take a turn for the worse, your motivation will be put to the test. The strength of your determination to take the best possible image will be key in helping you overcome the challenges that will lie in your way. Or conversely, you may realize that photography is not as important to you as enjoying the view, and you can spend less time worrying about missing that perfect shot.
Climbing and hiking photography is undoubtedly one of the most challenging realms of image making. At times, it may seem that every possible factor conspires to make your life harder: long approaches, terrible weather, difficult terrain, high altitude, to name a few. The task at hand, capturing the beauty of remote environments, may appear all but impossible. We are privileged to be allowed access to the wild places of the world and to be offered some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. With some effort and enough perseverance, you can master the technicalities of shooting in the mountains and become free to express your personal vision.
Journey into the unknown Photographs can be purely a witness of your presence at a specific location. The best example is the (mandatory) summit shot, proving that yes, you really stood on top of Everest. It is little different from a passport photo, and other than being sharp and correctly exposed, it requires no creativity from the operator. If this is the type of image that interests you, take the cheapest, lightest camera available and stop reading now. Another reason you might take pictures is to cement the memories of a trip for you and your companions. The main purpose of these photos is simply to help you remember your journey, and it doesnâ€™t matter much whether the photo is particularly good or not. I am sure that at some point in time weâ€™ve all had to endure endless slideshows of someone who just came back from a long trip! My book, Remote Exposure, and some general photography education, will be helpful in making your images more compelling, but much of the advice will probably be overkill for this
Finally, the third and most relevant motivation is to try to communicate what the trip was really like, and especially, how it made you feel. Maybe the landscapes you saw were so beautiful that you wanted to record and share them with others who were not fortunate enough to accompany you. This is the type of motivation that really interests us here and the only one strong enough to compel you to spend money and effort in carrying equipment to such inconvenient places.
Even if you bought the most expensive equipment and spent years practicing exposure and focus, you could end up with images that are technically sound, but not necessarily interesting or inspiring. The ultimate goal should be to master photography technique and understand your equipment so that using them is second nature, allowing you to focus instead on what really matters: the creation of a compelling, powerful image. Most great images share a common ingredient. More than luck, raw talent, hard work, experience or equipment, what really makes a difference is that the photographer deeply cared about the image when creating it. There is a message in each timeless photograph. Every time you are about to take a picture, ask yourself how the scene you are photographing makes you feel, and whether the image you are about to create is the best way to express that feeling.
Published on Nov 3, 2011