Want to learn the best tips for capturing powerful images of mountain peaks? These five photographers share the stories behind their most influential treks.
“No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied,” the legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams wrote in his autobiography. “It speaks in silence to the very core of your being.” Mountains have always been a beacon and a challenge to the human spirit, reminding us at once of our frailty and our power.
Through their images, photographers can share a small piece of this sense of wonder with the rest of the world. But shooting mountains is no small task. The weather is unreliable, and the terrain can be treacherous. In Adams’s era, equipment was bulky, so much so that he sometimes traveled with mules to help with the physical burden. And though the gear has gotten lighter, many of the same challenges remain today.
We reached out to five photographers who have embarked on adventures both small and epic, and we asked for some of their favorite memories from the world’s most beautiful peaks. Below, they share their stories and some of the secret tricks they’ve learned along the way.
1. “If it’s cold, it’s best to keep your camera batteries in your inner pockets or somewhere close to your body to keep them warm; otherwise, they will not last long.”
Image by Piotr Snigorski. Gear: Nikon D300s camera, Sigma 17-50 2:8 EX HSM lens. Settings: Focal length 27.00mm; exposure 1/640 sec; f11; ISO 200.
What’s the story behind this photo?
My most memorable experience as a photographer and as a mountaineer and skier was my whole trip to the Karakoram Range in Pakistan. I went there with my friend Olek. Our goal was to climb and ski from the summit of Gasherbrum II, one of 14 eight-thousanders. The mountains there are huge, raw, and overwhelmingly beautiful. To get to the base camp alone, you have to walk for six days through the Baltoro Glacier, passing legendary peaks like the Trango Towers, Masherbrum, the Shining Wall of Gasherbrum IV, and finally Broad Peak and K2.
It’s a paradise for any mountain photographer. It was an incredible and beautiful adventure but probably also the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life, not only because of the whole “climbing the eight-thousander thing” but also because my friend died during the descent, falling into a crevasse. The trip and experience taught me a lot as a photographer, skier, and climber, but mostly as a person. All the images I brought back from that expedition have a special meaning for me.