Hiking is an extremely rewarding outdoor activity as it allows the mind to relax while the body is working hard. Moreover, hiking in an area with beautiful landscapes tones the muscles and uplifts the spirit!
But the benefits of hiking go outside the body and mind sphere as it also allows you to take jaw-dropping photos that will make anyone jealous of your adventurous spirit and boost your social media presence.
Moreover, if you’re a beginner photographer, hiking allows you the room and space to learn and test various photography techniques. And, before you ask, if you’re aspiring to become a professional photographer, you will need a specialized camera (the phone won’t do). Additionally, it’s important to take a class (you can take an online photography class) and get in contact with professionals who can teach you the ropes of this amazing profession.
Now, once you have the theory it’s time to apply it, which is why I put together a few tips for beginners that will help you take Instagram-worthy photos while hiking.
#1: Focus on Capturing the Experience
I’ve seen way too many people who wait to reach the top of the mountain to take out the camera. For them, the ultimate shot is at the top, where they can see the entire valley and the surrounding mountains.
While this is true, this is an overly-used photo frame, which is why you can find similar shots online (maybe even better looking than yours). So, try to make your photos from the perspective of your own experience up the mountain. Pull out the camera to capture the struggle on your hiking partners’ faces while climbing a steep trail or their blissful expression while taking a quick rest. Everything that seems interesting, should be in the range of your lens!
#2: Place your Subjects Correctly
When taking photos in nature, it’s easy to lose your subject (the people you’re photographing) in the background. To avoid this and draw the eye to them (in the picture) ask them to wear bright, contrasting colours and try to place them against a solid coloured background.
For instance, if you’re going to use the sky or water as solid background, ask your subjects to dress in red or orange. On the other hand, if you’re taking pictures in the forest, during autumn, blue clothes work best.
#3: Start Early
Beautiful areas tend to get crowded during the day which utterly ruins your chance at a photo of the landscape. Therefore, it’s best to start your hike as early as possible – preferably before sunrise.
If this is not possible, plan to reach the most crowded location at sunset – that’s also a time when most regular tourists are at home, enjoying their dinner.
Lastly, the sunrise and sunset are times when the light is perfect for pictures (also known as the golden hour) and the result will be worth your lost sleep!
#4: Try to Show the Scale
When you are in the mountains, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the peaks surrounding you. However, when you check the pictures at home, in your desk chair, it’s hard to get the same feeling because everything kind of blends together.
So, to trick the eye and give viewers a sense of scale, use a friend as a reference point. When you see a human being looking tiny against the mountains, it’s easier to appreciate the difference in size.
#5: Tell A Story
Don’t just point the camera at the landscape! Use it to capture the different stages of your journey so you can later tell the story to your viewers. So, take pictures when you start the hike, when you take breaks, and on the trail.
Test your skills at photographing people, animals (in case you get a few four-legged friends along the way), and the moments that make each journey unique.
You don’t have to be a landscape photographer (or a professional photographer for that matter) to enjoy your hikes and have fun. Still, if you want to improve your technique and start earning money from your creations, it is crucial to practice as much as possible!
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Oli Kang is a working mum who has a passion for teaching and all things educational. With a background in marketing, Oli manages the digital channels and content at Courses AU.