Have you ever wondered how to create stunning photographs of mountains? In this article, Jack Brauer, a professional photographer from southwest Colorado who specializes on mountainscapes shares some excellent tips on mountain photography.
1. Originality in the Grand Landscape
I am a mountain photographer. Mountains are my greatest passion; whether I’m hiking, camping, snowboarding, photographing, or just sitting there soaking in the view, mountains make me feel more alive and inspired than any other kind of landscape, and definitely more than any city. For that reason I live in a small town in southwest Colorado, surrounded by the mighty San Juan Mountains, an endless sea of peaks that provide a lifetime’s worth of exploration and photography.
(Winter camping on a high ridgeline above my town of Ouray, Colorado. Olympus E-420, Zuiko 7-14mm, 30 sec exposure)
When it comes to photographing mountains, I heavily favor the “grand landscapes” – those sweeping vistas full of rugged peaks as seen from high vantage points, preferably splashed in rich sunrise or sunset light. These big views are the reason I fell in love with mountains, and perhaps the reason why most people venture up a mountain in the first place – to see the view!
I will admit, however, that it can be difficult for us photographers to be very creative when shooting big landscapes. After all, the grand landscape photo is mostly about the landscape itself, rather than a display of the photographer’s sheer creativity. Whereas a macro or close-up shooter has a virtually blank canvas to paint with light, with an infinite palette of color, selective focus, and bokeh, the landscape photographer is more or less tied to the reality of the scene and the whims of the weather and light. My goal of this article is to explain how photographing the grand landscapes can still be a very creatively fulfilling pursuit, and not just from behind the camera!
(Moonlit mountains and the last colors of sunset, as seen from the summit of Mt. Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado at 14,440 feet, February. I spent three hours on the snowy summit on this calm winter night, in awe of our planet, before I made my way down under the moonlight. Tachihara 4×5 wood field camera, Provia film, 8 minute exposure.)