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Hiking Photography - You Won’t Take Stunning Outdoor Pictures without the Top 9 Tips

Getting good hiking photography usually requires practice and patience. I highly recommend you try the top 9 tips for hiking photography before you invest your time and money to buy courses and new gears.

By Joy | @Joy

Updated on Oct 25, 2019

What should you do if you like beautiful nature and hiking with a camera but are not satisfied with your outdoor pictures?  Although many tourist routes are full of breathtaking scenery, it is quite difficult to translate this beauty into stunning photos. Getting good outdoor photography usually requires practice and patience. You might be lucky enough to take an award-winning picture, but often an amazing photo is a combination of careful planning and good timing. Before you invest your time and money to buy courses and new gears, I suggest you try the top 9 tips for hiking photography.

 Top 9 Tips for Hiking Photography 2019

1. Choose the Right Camera for Hiking Photography

When hiking, remember to choose a right camera and go as lightweight as possible. It won't benefit you much good when you're choosing between five lenses and two cameras, but you can be very exhausted from walking and carrying the equipment all day. 

For hobby photographers or a person who is primarily hiking for outdoor experience, I recommend you carry a small compact camera. Some are less than $300. They are waterproof so that you can take some outdoor pictures in streams. The small cameras aren't very restrictive, and they're a big improvement compared to smartphones. 

For the enthusiast photographers, it is a good idea to take Fujfilm X100F or go with another mirrorless camera and up to two lenses. It could be a zoom lens that covers a wide range of focal lengths and a 35mm prime lens. 

2. Carry a Tripod for Hiking Photography

The easiest way to improve the quality of your hiking photography is to carry a tripod. A great tripod is essential for many landscape and nature photographers. Sometimes the main difference between a normal sunrise photo and a beautiful sunrise photo is determined by the camera support. However, you must consider first whether you really need a tripod as most of the time you don't need it. Or you can carry a lightweight one. To photograph wildlife, you can make it with a monopod. Another good option is a travel tripod or gorilla pod. They're not as good as regular tripods, but they can be sturdy.

 Carry a Tripod for Hiking Photography

3. Bring a Good Landscape Lens for Hiking Photography

A good landscape lens can make a big difference. If you always use a kit lens, consider buying a wide-angle lens. It can be a good option because your photos often contain some foreground. You don't have to spend a lot of money on buying it as you can find your desired choice on amazon that costs less than $200. If you don't know what lenses to buy, I strongly recommend using the lens finder on Improved Photography to help you find the lens.

4. Study Angles & Positioning in Advance and Create a Shot List

If you're hiking on a popular route, see what others have done. Study the angles and positioning in advance so that you can clearly know how to frame your shot when you arrive at the amazing lookout. Note that it doesn't mean that you will copy other photographers. Instead, it can help you find a way to improve your photos and make them your own. 

Creating a shot list can ensure that you have enough shots to tell the story of the location and experience. It can be very useful and give you the target. Just make one for your next hike and take it with you. Check it every evening at your campsite so that you are aware of which hiking pictures you still need to take. 

5. Contain Some Objects in the Foreground When Taking Hiking Photos

Does your outdoor photoshoot look very bland? This is because your photo lacks some subtle details contained in the foreground to emphasize the mountain's charm. The mountains look like gigantic stones that are far away and the actual scale is not apparent, but it will create depth in your photos when you place something, such as a rock, a small tree, etc. in the foreground. With this little trick, you can easily see a three-dimensional perspective in your hiking photography.

6. Shoot Hiking Photos in Golden Hours

The sun plays a crucial role in creating beautiful outdoor pictures, especially when you hike on a mountainside and watch the sunset. Actually, the best time to take a photo is not only at sunset, but also an hour before. The sun is not high above this position but will be shining down from a lower angle. It can reduce harsh shadows and photographing against the sun can also work quite well. If you are planning your next trip, try to catch the sunset and avoid the glare at noon.

 Shoot Hiking Photos in Golden Hours

7. The Best Time to Photograph the Canyon is not Just Sunrise or Sunset

For slot canyons, the key is to make directional light drop into the canyon. The beams of light hitting the canyon walls will produce a beautiful glow in the best image of the slot canyon. Generally, you can find the best light in the late morning, but there are no fixed rules, and the best time depends on the depth of the canyon, the width of the opening and the angle of the sun.

8. Change Perspectives for Hiking Photography

If you want to create some stunning outdoor photos, you should look for some new perspectives. Try using a chest harness, an extension arm or helmet triangle to get a different point of view. Or you can just get down to the ground, stand on a rock or search for a little ledge for a different light on familiar objects.

9. Catch the Action

Action shots are all about framing and positioning. You can lower the angle and make your hiker walks through the shot so that you make the viewer feel as if they are walking into the photos. You can also try using techniques such as panning with a moving object, slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed, or deliberately moving the camera. All these tricks can help you add the perception of dynamic action to your outdoor photographs.


Like anything else, improving your hiking photography takes lots of time and practice. Before you hit the trail, don’t forget to check the 10 tips to snap phenomenal photos while enjoying the magnificent scenery.

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