6 Alpine Photo Tips For Great Snowy Mountains Shots
Posted on Monday, 28th of April 2014
Photography can be a holistic pastime, good for the soul, and good for getting oneself back on track when feeling like the rat race is getting too much. You don’t have to be a professional to pick up a camera either. Some professionals say they just use their iPhone on their own personal holidays anyway.
Tim Wrate is an amateur photographer who offers one-on-one photography tuition. Tim hails from Sydney and finds the Snowy Mountains an endless source of material for jaw-dropping shots. He found his passion and kept snapping away until he had shutter speed and light nailed.
“The Snowies provide the perfect combination of unique photographic features and an intense magnetic draw that lure me back to shoot them time and time again,” he says. “They offer a distinctly Australian charm from the weathered groves of gnarled and twisted Snowy Gums, to the rugged granite tors of South Rams Head and the history of Wallaces Hut, where if you listen closely enough you may just hear the ghosts of the Snowies past or the crack of a stock whip.”
Here are are a few of Tim’s tips to get you started on producing awesome shots of the Snowy Mountains.
1. Technical know-how
Tim Wrate warns that there are a number of technical difficulties that arise with shooting landscapes in Alpine conditions and they are:
– Be mindful that when you are impressed with the sheer size and grandeur of the mountains in front of you, it is tempting to go for the wide angle lens, however the majesty can be lost when shooting mountains with a wide focal length. A telephoto lens is often the best choice for photographing mountains; it allows you to focus on a section of the range that would often go unnoticed.
– Colour temperature has a big impact on shooting a snow clad scene.
Sunlight produces cool blue tones in the snow, and in the middle of the day, the sky can be an inky black (particularly if using a polariser). Later in the day, the setting sun and the ‘alpine-light’ (the afterglow of the sun once it has set) can produce beautiful oranges, pinks and magentas.
– Weather plays an important role in mountain photography. If you’re staying in Thredbo accommodation and you get the opportunity to shoot a mountain, never put it off until the next day. With rapidly changing weather conditions special light in the mountains is fleeting.
2. Find inspiration
Kosciuszko National Park is unique in that it is accessible from the top even if you are unfit/unwell due to the chairlifts running all year round.
From the top of the mountain or from the walking tracks or mountain bike trails photographers can find echidnas, snowy gum trees, creeks or scenery that cannot be found in any urban setting. Booking Thredbo accommodation ensures the entire village at your photographic fingertips. Great for sunsets, sunrises and spotting unusual creatures.
3. Overcoming snow
From the great well of silence great creativity springs forth. Taking time to line up shots, get good angles and re-take that shot if need be.
Tim Wrate offers advice that “Shooting in snow can often be difficult. The main issue is the brilliance of the snow can often play tricks on the camera’s light meter, resulting in snow that can looked washed out and grey rather than white. There are several techniques that can be used to avoid this problem including but not limited to:
– bracketing your images
– using the spot meter to meter off the whitest point in the scene
– adding two or three stops to the exposure or most simply use the histogram on the camera’s LCD screen to ensure the exposure is correct”.
He also cautions us “to be mindful that the horizon is not straight, and thus using graduated neutral density filters can often be difficult. This can be easily overcome by using soft graduated neutral density filters, as opposed to hard, or simply bracket your images and spend time in post processing to blend the images together”.
4. Find a great mentor
Unfortunately Tim Wrate doesn’t run photography courses down at the Snowys, which would be amazing. Photography courses aren’t essential, however, if you’re located in one of the bigger cities you can find a course to suit you and your budget.
In Sydney Valerie Martin runs reasonably priced short courses in photography (on the Northern Beaches) for beginners, intermediates and advanced levels with night photography classes held in the open air in North Sydney. This is in addition to other photography options to extend skills beyond the basics. Valerie gets students (any age) to think outside the box about landscapes.
Another photographer of note is Peter Lik. His amazing works can be viewed and devoured in many locations including Noosa, Hawai and the USA or just enjoyed online. Once you find a photographer, on instagram, the web or in person who inspires you, your Snowy Mountain photography holiday can be that much brighter.
5. Selecting the best entry level camera gear
All the gear and no idea? Or just an iPhone and some walking boots? It’s up to your budget, your imagination and your willingness to learn and improve. Remember you can always book cheap accommodation in Thredbo and save your money for purchasing camera gear.
The following list should help give you some idea of what you need:
– camera: iPhone, basic camera, or more professional camera
– flash: built in available even on an iPhone
– lenses: optional
– camera bag: to store equipment or just an iPhone in your pocket
– filters: depends on your budget and your level of keenness (many iPhone apps like Snapseed and Super Photo Photo Effects are free on the app store and can alter the effects your iPhone has taken on the snow)
– tripod: good for long exposure shots so the camera doesn’t shake (optional as you can rest a camera or iPhone on a tree, wall, bag or other stationery object if it’s not part of the budget).
6. Social Media can improve your photos
Signing up to Flickr or Instagram and other social media sites or starting your very own blog, are great ways to very quickly improve your photography, meet like-minded people and be on the ball with other photography happenings. Flickr allows you 1 gig free to back up all those precious shots.
Why social media?
Practice makes perfect. Connecting with Flickr or Instagram keeps your amateur photography skills regularly honed, like a well flexed muscle.
Regularly loading your shots onto these sites keeps your photography hobby firmly front and centre, promoting improvement. Who knows, you may just end up with mind-boggling Alpine shots like Tim Wrate.
Looking at like-minded user’s pages gives you more ideas. Once you start following other amateur photographers you can ask them directly (comment under each shot) which filters they used on certain shots or which lens (wide angle or regular) or which type of camera they prefer.
Most amateur photographers are more than happy to share, you may even run into some around your Thredbo accommodation.
The best place to stay for great alpine photography
Tim Wrate’s final advice is: “There are plenty of opportunities with snow, from delicate close ups, to snow clad Snow Gums, to frozen expanses with crystal clear blue skies. Be mindful of your surroundings, you may come away with an image you never intended or planned on taking”.
So with that in mind head on over to Lantern Thredbo Apartments to check out the best Thredbo accommodation deals for your next photo taking trip. Or do you already have an amazing shot of the Snowy Mountains region? Please share on our Facebook page and let us know where it was taken.
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