Techniques For Capturing The Majesty Of Mountains

Our beautiful world blesses us with bountiful awe-inspiring features, and soaring mountains that reach into the skies are definitely one of the most powerful of the lot.

So, it’s not hard to see why so many photographers are so drawn to this genre of photography. It produces some of the best images across the globe. 

Techniques For Capturing The Majesty Of Mountains

However, let there be no misconceptions, snapping the perfect mountain picture is a challenging and difficult task.

Getting to the location can be a laborious task, and that’s before you’ve even begun to trek through the harsh alpine terrain.

And then once you’re in the perfect location to get those amazing images, you also need to know exactly how to take the photo to truly capture the magnificence before you. 

But all your efforts are rewarded when you get that perfect shot. And in this article, we’re going to teach you exactly how to achieve it. Ready to begin? Let’s get started then. 

A Note On Mountain Safety

Before we begin, it’s really important to emphasize that mountains always deserve respect.

Trekking through the areas can involve making your way through some pretty dangerous terrain and it’s something that needs to be considered. 

You need to be prepared for any scenario or situation when making your way up a mountain.

The weather can often be unpredictable, there is plenty of dangerous and deadly wildlife roaming the habitat, and you can be facing some pretty steep and high areas. Fall or slip and it can be fatal. 

You should always travel in optimum weather conditions where possible and never take on an expedition alone.

While it might seem nice to take some time to yourself and clear your head, the last thing you want to happen is to be abandoned on a mountain alone.

Something as simple as a twisted ankle can have you stuck in place and it’s not as if there is always impeccable cellular communication or services at the summit of a mountain. 

However, as long as you are under no misconceptions about the dangers, ensure that you are well prepared, and act in a safe and responsible manner, it can also be an amazing adventure and a ton of fun. 

Techniques To Master If You Want Amazing Mountain Photographs


Now, this might not sound like that important of a technique to mention. But, it is. Immensely so. The difference between a good and a great photo can be the patience behind it, especially when taking photos of mountains. 

For example, sometimes you can have to wait several hours for a particular cloud to move or for certain weather to pass.

But if you have an idea of the image you want to capture, you’ll need to wait it out. But that clear sky compared to one with a few details in the way can really make or break the image. 

Some mountain photographers have stayed at camp for several days just to capture that one perfect moment (see also “Capturing The Sweet Moments Of Your Baby’s First Year“). So, patience is a vital technique to master if you want exceptional photos. 


One thing that many photographers don’t realize if they haven’t done mountain photography before is that the light can differ significantly compared to many other landscapes.

So, as an example, there can be colors in the clouds at sunrise or sunset that you want to capture, but they can take a considerable amount of time before that light reaches the mountain peak.

This is where patience comes into play again. 

Unlike in many other areas of the world, lighting can take a much longer time to reach the mountain range. And this is important to keep in mind for timing your images.

You’ll usually need to be at the correct location a couple of hours before the ‘golden hour’ you want to capture the right light. And remember this will only actually last a few minutes. 


Depth must always be considered when taking pictures of mountains. It is the singular most important element to keep in mind.

And this fact remains regardless of whether you’re capturing a singular mountain face or multiple mountains. Without it, you simply will not effectively achieve capturing the majesty of the mountain. 

All images should be shot using a narrower or smaller aperture when capturing mountains unless shallow depth is required for your particular image.

We recommend using an f/7.1 or higher for the best results. Though this can vary depending on the current lighting or shooting situation. 

Overall though, greater depth will help you achieve better dynamics and clear details when shooting subjects such as mountains. 


You’ll be shocked at the difference that a sturdy tripod will make to your images of mountains.

Not only does it help to stop you from creating blurry or unclear images, but it also provides more options for creativity in terms of composition and focus-stacking.

It will aid narrower aperture settings for limited light as well as create better images when using slower shutter speeds which are usually vital to these types of photography. 

Long Images

While wide-angle lenses are unarguably a great option for landscape and mountain photography, we recommend experimenting with a longer telephoto lens too. It works just as effectively, if not even better! 

For telephoto lenses, you’ll want to opt for a focal length of between 100-500mm as this will allow you to expand past what is visible to the human eye.

You can also capture layers and details that you just can’t achieve any other way. You’ll see evident detail of the wisps of clouds or the fog settling along the mountain, for example. 


Contrast is so important in mountain photography and you simply won’t achieve those professional-looking images without it.

And what’s great about contrast is that it can improve your photographs in so many varying ways. 

You can make the sky stand out, emphasize the surrounding foliage, and even create color separation for timeless black and white options too. 

If you want to make the most out of the contrast in the pictures you’re taking, you should opt for a circular polarizer filter or CP filter.

When shooting away from direct sunlight the CP filter will allow for more control over the contrast and color of the images you’re trying to capture.

It also successfully tackles glare and reflective issues that are common in mountain photography


It’s important not to forget what you’re trying to achieve with your photographs, and for the most part, the end goal is to evoke emotion in the viewer of the image.

So, you need to ensure that your photo is bursting full of emotion. 

How do you do that? There are many different ways to do so.

Sunrises and sunsets have a way of seeming more personal, a human subject can also add some perspective to the soaring heights of the mountain’s summit, and seasonal flowers and foliage can invoke 

emotion too. 

Remember to focus on small details, and take plenty of different shots from several different viewpoints. Each one will be unique and awe-inspiring in its own way. 


While there are many instances where layering up several images can be really powerful, it can be easy to move into overkill when it comes to mountains.

The landscape is naturally already complex and often doesn’t need extra frills to provide a potent and powerful image. 

Sometimes, it is best to step away from the more advanced skills and techniques and opt for the more simple and minimalist compositions.

Try creating images where the foliage reflects in an alpine lake or a small portion of the mountain peaking through a fluffy cloud. 

Some of the most profound images are the simplest and this is something important to remember. 

Learn The Post Processing Techniques

Once you’ve captured the perfect picture, just remember that it can also be improved in post-processing edits. You can blend pictures together to get the best of both worlds, play around with light and contrast, and more. 

Post-processing techniques and Photoshop are also pretty easy to learn, so you can be sure that you’ll be producing those professional portraits in no time at all. 

Final Thoughts

Mountain photography is a very rewarding field to be in. You will truly become one with nature and see scenes that you’ve only ever dreamed of.

But, be aware that it can be a grueling process in a dangerous environment too. So ensuring that you have the correct equipment and clothing is very important. 

One of the most valuable technical skills you can learn as a mountain photographer is patience.

Mastering the skills, tips, and tricks in this article such as contrast, depth, and lighting can be easily achieved, but patience can be much harder to maintain. 

But if you want to achieve the perfect mountain photograph it’s mostly a waiting game, until the sun is in a perfect position, or the weather has passed, for example.

Now, though, you should have all the skills in your arsenal to produce mountain pictures that truly capture their majesty.

Laura McNeill
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