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5 Landscape Photography Tips For Photographing Mountains


After graduating from photography school, I spent a good deal of my 20s photographing the city scapes of New York. In my 30s, after I relocated to upstate New York, I discovered a new muse–the landscape. What’s so nouveau about the landscape? You’ll only understand this after living in a cramped, fifth floor walk-up apartment–with views topped only by brick walls–for years.

Anyone who went to photography school is familiar with “the golden hour”–that gorgeous time right before sunset or right after sunrise. It’s by far the best time to shoot landscape photography. Everything–and I mean everything–is gorgeous at this hour.

When I moved to the Adirondacks, I sought inspiration from the area’s numerous mountains and lakes. Though I’d attended various photography schools, studied with different photographers, and shot a good deal of (non-mountainous) landscape photography in the past, nothing prepared me for photographing mountains.

mountains and lake landscape

“The South Side of Lake Cathrine” captured by Mitch Johanson (Click image to see more from Johanson)

I’ve since met other photographers in the area who concur that the terrain poses unique and significant challenges that affect not only neophytes, such as myself at the time, but also more seasoned area photographers.

I was relieved to discover this. After all, the thought had occurred to me that my urban environs had deflowered me in the most vulgar of ways. Or that my years attending photography schools, and the long hours of inhaling photographic chemicals, left me so ill-equipped that I couldn’t even properly take a simple nature photograph.

But it wasn’t photography school, nor my many years in an urban environment. It was that photographing certain elements of nature can be even more mysterious and baffling than the human element, which I had, at least to some degree, come to readily understand. So, here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned while wrestling with such subjects.

I’m not talking about bringing a compass with you wherever you go, unless of course, you have a habit of getting lost, in which case it might be worthwhile. But, more so, you need to understand your lighting and position. Remember before when we were discussing “the golden hour”? Well, one of the things you’ll soon discover when photographing mountains is that there often isn’t a golden hour, or if there is, it can be diminished greatly–very disappointing when you’ve spent hours waiting for a particular shot.

golden hour landscape photography

“Walk on By” captured by Mark...

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