1. Choosing the Right Equipment
Film SLR is still a popular camera choice for a remote expedition.
- old manual SLRs, as well as most rangefinders, possess a mechanical shutter system that can operate without any power source;
- downsides: no instantly review; more experience needed; physical medium of film;
- fSLR can be a great backup.
- pros: larger sensors, modular and interchangeable lenses, live view, longer battery life, faster, auto-bracketing;
- cons: heavier and bulkier;
- HDR capability.
- disadvantages: heavy noise, low battery life, slow autofocus, shutter lag, non-interchangeable lenses; even no viewfinder; lack of ‘RAW’;
- considerable only when:
- the climb is very difficult: light weight is more important than bringing back good images;
- snapshots to complement your personal memories;
- a high-end compact could serve as a useful backup.
EVILs (Electonic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens Cameras)
- designed for street photography; close to APS-C DSLRs (with consumer lenses);
- cons: absence of an optical viewfinder;
- trade-off between weight and some special features and more choices in lenses (against DSLR).
The Big Stuff
- a bad idea.
- DSLR or EVIL; compact as a backup.
- it depends.
- balance versatility and features with weight and portability;
- no need to focus on large apertures;
- sometimes it is inconvenient to change lenses;
- a wide lens is generally the most useful; default choice;
- oftentimes, telephoto lenses are a necessity; 200mm should be enough; secondary choice;
- ultra wide lenses are tricky to use;
- prime lenses: for experienced;
- gather some statistics in photo archives.
- have your camera accessible at all times;
- backpack with survival items;
- without fuss;
- size should be adapted;
- all the equipment you might use should be accessible;
- reasonably weather resistant;
- simple design: internal separators and a small pocket for memory cards and batteries;
- camera backpacks are worst, chest bag and shoulder bag are not that good;
- a belt system is the best solution: a padded belt and a few detachable pouches.
Battery and Memory Strategies
- at least enough cards to get you through one day of shooting;
- cold is the deadliest threat to batteries;
- careful and constant monitoring power sources;
Odds and Ends
- lens caps, UV filters;
- lens hoods;
- microfiber cloth;
- need permission from every recognizable person in images;
- tripod: isn’t very useful in the mountains -> find a platform stable enough;
- artifical lighting: flash is more trouble than help;
- filters: UV or clear filters only;
- laptop: no;
For Hiking and Less Demanding Climbs, e.g.:
- Nikon D90 w/ 2+ batteries, 12GB SD cards;
- Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VR, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR (equipped w/ UV);
- Think Tank Skin belt system;
For Difficult Climbs, e.g.:
- EP-1 Pen m43, w/ 12GB SD cards;
- Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6;
When to Shoot
- be psychologically prepared to stop in very inconvenient places; no fuss;
- how safe is it to stop now?
- how are your partners going to react?
- how long is the photo opportunity likely to last?
- how good is the image going to be?
Caring for Your Gear
- weather protection, cold;
- water (humidity, rain), condensation;
- dust -> be extra careful;
- how NOT to drop stuff:
- connect the camera strap to harness or bag;
- climbing sling;
- always pack anything fragile or expensive as carry-on luggage;
- never leave bags out of your sight;
- keep ‘em attached;
A Complete Workflow
- keep an eye out and an open mind for any potential photo;
- assess enviornment;
- communicate with partners;
- anchor yourself somewhere when needed;
- check the histogram;
- snow: compensation to eliminate underexposing;
- ETTR (Expose To The Right): only against RAW, w/ post-processing;
- high contrast: use HDR, check histogram;
3. Creating Powerful Images
- have something to say, and express it through photography;
Quantity vs. Quality
- give you mileage;
- occasionally stumble upon hidden gems;
- you are not obligated to produce a masterpiece each time;
- photo opportunities are both unique and short-lived;
- images are great memories;
- heavy editing;
- shooting a lot replaces critical thinking and is only masking the photographer’s laziness of finding the optimal viewpoint for a scene.
Do NOT overestimate the checklist:
- rule of thirds;
- direct attention to a subject by color and light;
- strong shapes and lines;
- edges of an image are a sensitive area;
- out-of-focus background are important;
- leave plenty of space in image when subject is moving or looking in a direction;
- simpler composition -> stronger image.
Through experience, by shooting thousands of images and seeing thousands more, both good and bad.
- put the image into words -> simply describe it;
- not to explain the story with extra info that does not show in the image.
- learn to see light and treat it as a subject in its own right;
- search for the optimal point of view;
- observer the weather, and make it another one of your subject;
- mountains are vertical environments;
- natural scenes look the same at any scale;
- get the timing just right when action shooting;
- pay attention to the backgrounds;
- place people in their enviroment unless for portraits;
- diversity of genres;
- break the rules, and experiment.
4. Discipline Specific
Four categories: camping, hiking, technical climbing, and mountaineering.
- best light: sun is low;
- keep things simple, though getting good images of a campsite can be surprisingly difficult;
- opportunities: night, sunset;
hiking is the easiest of the three different outdoor disciplines
- hiking scenes can lack visual drama;
- figure out the path;
- build your image backwards -> from backgrounds to foregrounds;
- place other hikers out of focus;
- faces creat very powerful photographs;
- alone? stable platform + self-timer;
- perspective is the most important element of composition;
- show the face (of the leader);
- pay attention to backgrounds;
- the last important element is action;
- offer to send unknown climbers your pictures.
- the composition advice from the previous sections all apply;
- make the effort to look for good photo opportunities;
5. Advanced Techniques
Low Light and Night Photography
- full aperture -> but reduce depth of field;
- close the aperture until the depth of field is large enough to includes your subject;
- (unless shooting film) incress ISO;
- tripod -> tough: mirror lock-up, remote trigger, self-timer,etc;
- long exposure times will only work with relatively static subjects;
- metering and focus;
- full manual mode;
- test until acceptable exposure has been obtained;
- sometimes, use a flash/strobe;
- a tripod and a panorama head;
- is panorama essential?
- select a focal length;
- manual exposure w/ tests, to avoid zebra looking in stitched final image;
- take all the pictures in as short a time as possible;
- repeat the entire process if necessary;
- check histogram: whether it is cut off at both ends;
- otherwise, adjust the exposure compensation;
- careful planning;
- a closeup of a face;
- a mid-range shot;
- a closeup of hands;
- a point-of-view shot;
- get creative;
- composition rules from previous chapters;
- sound should never be underestimated;
- take it easy on the effects.
6. Closing Thoughts
Ethics and Photo Manipulations
The only question is who should do the manipulation, the user or the camera.
- minor modifications and scene-changing modifications;
- be honest about your choices;
- photo manipulations are subjective;
Safety and the Environment
- safety 1st;
- seek proper instr before venturing into wildnerness areas;
- leave no trace philosophy