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Do it yourself: Taking great mountain pictures!

Tomas IchasoAugust 14, 2015

Do you struggle to get nice pictures when you go out to the mountains? Do you feel your images don’t reflect the beauty that you enjoyed out there? Then these simple tips to take good pictures may help you to capture the magic of the mountains and share it with your friends!

When you go out to the mountains for skiing, hiking or climbing, you most likely see amazing landscapes that most of the people wouldn’t even believe. But many times, when you are back and showing your pictures to your friends, the feeling is that they are not even a tenth as nice as the actual places you discovered, right?

So, is it so difficult to come back with really nice pictures? Well, the answer is no. Taking good pictures is accessible to (almost) anyone if some basic rules are applied. Together with some experts at Canon, we selected our 5 top tips that will help your images look great, so you can convince your friends to join you in your next adventure!

1. Rule of thirds

A general rule in photography is that you shouldn’t always put your subject in the middle of the frame. The idea is to divide your frame in horizontal and vertical thirds, and to place the central figure of your picture aligned with these lines that divide your frame. For example, when taking a particular mountain or a mountaineer climbing a peak, have it in the first or last third of your screen.

Tip 1 - Rule of Thirds - Kivik François
Photo: Kivik François ©

2. Include human figures

Your companions should be in your pictures. Those with people in them tend to be more appealing than those that only show an empty landscape. Human figures add color and human interest to the picture, and help to give a real dimension of the natural environment. Ask your friends to wear nice, colorful jackets to boost the picture’s tone!

Tip 2 - Human Figures - Gauthier Poncelet
Photo: Gauthier Poncelet ©

3. Take advantage of the light!

It’s usually better to use daylight, and avoid using too much the flash. And while around midday the sunlight might be too strong, the morning and the afternoon are usually the best moments for taking pictures. When photographing someone, most of the times you’ll try to have the sunlight in his face, but you can also get nice effects when the light comes from behind. For instance in this picture you have the background exposed, and no light coming directly to the persons, so you only see their siluete, getting a very nice picture. So, the best advice is to look at the scene “live”, and according to the light you have, decide how to take the picture.

Tip 3 - Light - Lionel D. ©
Ski touring in Norway – Photo: Lionel D. ©

4. Keep the horizon straight

This is quite simple, but very important: Try to keep the horizon straight when you are taking landscape pictures. You don’t want people to get seasick when they’re looking through your pictures, do you?

Tip 4 - Horizon line - Jean Marc K.
Ski touring and sailing in Norway – Photo: Jean Marc K. ©

5. Be familiar with your gear

One of the most important tips that cannot be repeated enough is that you should get familiar with your gear before you leave on a trip. Practice with your camera before leaving, in order to know how to select the right functions when the perfect picture comes across your eyes in the mountains. Among others, it’s important to know how to select the setting you’ll want to use (manual, automatic, or any of the preset settings your camera offers), how to handle the zoom and focus, and to know how to enable or disable the flash.

Canon Powershot G7 X

And to apply these suggestions you don’t need to have a really pro camera, you’ll see that with a rather easy-to-use camera, like for example a Canon Powershot G7 X, you can have beautiful results.

All told, next time you go to the mountains just go out, try everything you have in mind and most important of all, have fun. But don’t stick all the time to these tips, sometimes the best rule is to break the rules!


Want to know more?

If you are interested in more technical tips about photography, regarding aperture, shutter speed, ISO, you will find very useful these videos prepared by the Canon Academy experts.

Click here to find them and learn more about Shutter speed, Aperture and Exposure parameters.

And if you like going to the mountains and taking pictures, you can´t miss the programs combining mountaineering and photography, offered by certified mountain guides on


Get inspiration with this gallery of images:

Photo Toshiya W.
Backcountry skiing in Rishiri – Photo: Toshiya W. ©
Photo Philippe de G.
Mountaineering in Mont Blanc – Photo: Philippe de G. ©
Photo gallery - James K.
Ultra trail in Chamonix – Photo: James K. ©
Photo Gauthier Poncelet
Photo: Gauthier Poncelet ©
Photo Jean A.
Japan Haute Route ski tour – Photo: Jean A. ©
Photo Fred B.
Ski touring in El Chaltén – Photo: Fred B. ©

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