Hiking and photography are one of the most fun combinations one can ever imagine. There are lots of hidden treasures that wait to be explored and their snapshots taken. Going off the beaten paths with your camera is an allure that hikers find irresistible.
The diversity of any landscape such as scenic views, deserts, wildlife, rocky hillsides and colorful mountains among others means that your camera should be always be ready to perform its tasks. Otherwise, you might miss the best setting for taking a shot worth thousands of words.
As a hiker and a photographer at the same time, you need to be prepared for the challenges ahead. Capturing the amazing night skies, breathtaking landscaped and illuminated tents won’t come easy. These tips for the hiking photographer should be of great help.
1. Pack Light but With the Essentials
When hiking, there is a saying that goes like this, “less might be more.” What this means is that it is possible to get the most out of your hiking and photography by packing light. Other than the photo gear you will need, there are other essentials you will need for survival while on the trail.
Your packing is dictated on most occasions by the duration you intend on spending on the hike, your travel inclinations and the photography you will be doing. Sometimes knowing what you might need beforehand might be impossible. You, therefore, have to rely on past experiences.
Draw up a list of what you carried last time but did not use. You can also write down what you did not carry but you needed to use. Bring along lenses depending on the types of photos to take (don’t bring all the lenses you own). A couple of batteries is a must, cleaning gear and probably a tripod.
2. Your Camera Should be Up to the Task
Whenever you are going hiking, you need to always have the best camera for hiking. However, this does not mean that you compromise on the other gear that you bring along. First of all, do a research on the hiking mountain that you will be exploring.
This should be done at least three days prior to the day of the hiking. If you find that it frequently rains up there, then you can bring moisture resistant lenses (or camera).
You need also to be aware that weather conditions can change on a dime without notice. Bring along some backup gear just in case it changes from rainy to sunny at a moment’s notice.
3. Be Prepared for Maintenance Work on Your Gear
If you intend on being away for a long while, you should be ready to keep your gear in top shape. The photography gear, in particular, will need a lot of care. They need to be clean, dry and not get cold at any time. You should also regularly wipe the camera parts for proper functionality.
You might have brought along the best camera for hiking, but if it gets wet, then it won’t be of much use to you. Packing all your gear properly is the first step in protecting them from the weather elements.
Bring along an air blower as well as a cleaning cloth to wipe clean the lenses you may decide to bring along. Then remember to keep the batteries warm as they drain faster when they get cold. Keeping your batteries in your sleeping bag is a great hiking hack for a photographer.
4. The Camera and Tripod Should Always be at Hand
As you hike, you are sure to find lots of great spots in which to take a picture. However, such an opportunity might pass you by if the tripod and camera stay stuck on your straps or back. The hassle of getting them out becomes too much.
You are then forced to procrastinate and promise yourself to take the shot when on your way back. Sadly, this never happens on most occasions. A better way of dealing with these inefficiencies is using a holster to allow the camera and lenses hang from the shoulder straps.
With the tripod (if you brought one along), you should be able to deploy it quickly. Most photographers prefer carrying the tripod over their shoulders to having it attached to the bag. In whichever position you choose, deploying it should be fast and quick. If this is not the case then you might have just left it back home.
5. Carefully Choose a Friendly Hiker or Guide
The company you keep while hiking and taking pictures at the same time determines the success of both. There are certain hiking mates and guides who are intent on climbing the mountain as fast as possible then get over with the activity.
Such a hurry will not work for you if you want to take amazing shots in the process. As a photographer, you have to linger about in a scene before finding the perfect angle for a shot. Your mates should, therefore, have the patience to stay with you until you are done.
6. Bring Spares and Conserve Energy
Different cameras have different storage capacities as well as battery durability. On average, a fully charged battery should last you about 500 shots (it could be more or less). This number reduces considerably to about 150 if you are exclusively using the flash.
On a hike, you are most likely to take more than these shots. There are lots of scenic scenes that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. If you plan on being out for more than four hours, extra memory cards and batteries are a must. This is unless you do not want to snap some of the stunning sights.
A better strategy would be to stop confirming whether you have taken a great shot or not. Looking at the image on the camera LCD screen wastes power unnecessarily. Wait until you are home before you can start going through all your hiking adventures.
7. Watch Where You Step on Before Taking A Shot
The allure of taking a picture might overwhelm you so much that you may ignore simple hiking basics. Although most of the photography needs to happen at a moment’s notice, sometimes you simply need to create your own luck to take a great picture.
Doing a prior research on the spots where great shots can be taken makes the process a lot easier. By doing this, you can plan out your framing as you walk. With this in mind, go back to photography basics: Point and Click. Do not attempt anything too crazy.
You should not be the type of hiking photographer who loses their cameras while on a trail. Cameras falling into streams, onto rocks or lenses scratching are common as one attempts those crazy shots.
8. Your Safety Comes First, Camera Second
In as much we wouldn’t want you to lose any of your gear, we wouldn’t want you to be at the expense of your life. There are numerous photographers who unfortunately pass away trying to push the boundaries too far for a single shot.
In any situation, you are more important than any once in a lifetime shot you may encounter. It wouldn’t be of any use if you take it then you miss the chance to enjoy it.
Taking photographs while hiking is an ecstatic experience. It helps you remember every step you took while out in the mountains. You can also share these shots with other people to have the same feeling you had. Follow these essential tips for the hiking photographer, and then the next pics you take would be even more incredible.