10 Tips For Shooting On The Hike

A few years ago, I've been a classic example of what you'd call a couch potato. For whatever reason, that has changed quite a bit since. I started to eat healthier (I'm vegan since the beginning of 2013), stopped smoking about two years ago and have begun exercising for about half an hour every day for quite some time now. Don't want to sound like a bighead here but sometimes you're allowed to be a bit proud of yourself for getting your bum off the sofa! Somewhere between those changes, my wife and I discovered our love for hiking. The North of Luxembourg being such an incredibly beautiful place, our trips have been getting longer and longer. Well I'm partly responsible for that because I'm slowing down the hiking part. A curse upon you, time devouring, contemplative art of photography!

I've learned a thing or two during those excursions and so I thought "Heyyy, I have that blog thingy, why not try to be helpful!". So, yeah, here you go! Tips!

1. Take a tripod

As you're probably going to see some amazing landscapes during your field trips, it goes without saying that you should definitely take a light tripod. Long exposures or photos at night are not possible without one of those. But try not to get it out too fast! People tend to not really move that much around anymore once they set up their three legged friend. Try to find the best angle first and know what you want to do, look through the viewfinder from some different positions. Buy something light, it doesn't have to be super expensive either, brands like MeFoto or Sirui have very compact and affordable offerings. Another very versatile alternative is a Joby Gorillapod. They are extremely small, versatile, easy to travel with and they don't cost an arm and a leg.

HDR images are easier with a tripod. But buy something that's not too cumbersome!

HDR images are easier with a tripod. But buy something that's not too cumbersome!

2. Pack some accessories

Some things you absolutely should take are a neutral density (ND) filter for long exposures and a polarizing filter for nice dramatic skies or to reduce reflections. You should also take an intervalometer if your camera doesn't have one integrated. If it does, a simple cable release is still a good idea. Also you shouldn't leave home without some lens cloth. Nature, you know, that's what it does best, dirtying your lenses. Oh, and take some extra batteries and memory cards, but then again, that's something you should always do.

3. Get up early

Here's one I rarely manage myself. Try to get going at the beginning of sunrise at the latest. Like that, you can take some shots of beautiful misty landscapes and great details of dew-covered plants. Yeah, I know, but it's worth the hassle, I promise!

You get some of the most beautiful light in the early morning.

You get some of the most beautiful light in the early morning.

4. Take someone with you

It's never a good idea to go hiking alone. It's safer to have someone with you, but you'll also be grateful for the company. You have someone to talk to and an additional pair of eyes that sometimes sees stuff you would have missed. Also, at times it's great to have someone to be in the pictures you take. This often gives a good size reference in landscapes, where you'd otherwise have no idea of the dimensions.

Putting people in your photos helps to give some dimension to a scene.

Putting people in your photos helps to give some dimension to a scene.

5. No shoulder straps

I really love my BlackRapid strap when I'm traveling light, like for short city trips. Hiking is something completely different though and believe me, backpacks and camera straps don't like each other! When you're walking for hours, a camera that's dangling against your arm or hip all the time will drive you crazy. But instead of stowing your camera away in your backpack, you could consider something like the Peak Design CapturePro clip. Apart from it sometimes being difficult to press the camera mounting plate into the clip, I really like the system. You screw it onto the strap of your backpack so that the camera comfortably hangs down in front of your chest. It is surprisingly unannoying, at least with my Fuji X-T1 which isn't too big, but I found it agreeable to wear even with the larger 50-140mm lens. A nice bonus is the fact that the plate is ARCA compatible, so you could mount it directly on a tripod with a compatible head. 

6. Play with the light

Way to often, we just take a shot, look at the screen, think that this is not what we saw there and then simply move on. Next time you get that feeling, take some time instead! Something grabbed you eye, you shouldn't give up after you took one single photo. Try to look at things from another angle, get low on the ground for instance. Shoot against the sun for a change and get some nice silhouettes. And don't just go for the "correct" exposure but try to underexpose your photo on purpose. Sometimes it looks great to have only some brighter details in you photos emerge from the shadows.

Macro tubes or lenses are challenging to shoot but the results can be really rewarding! Shot with a handheld flash and the Fujifilm MCEX-16 tube. That guy was only about half an inch in size!

Macro tubes or lenses are challenging to shoot but the results can be really rewarding! Shot with a handheld flash and the Fujifilm MCEX-16 tube. That guy was only about half an inch in size!

8. Look behind you

This may sound a bit funny (or paranoiac for that matter) but really, look behind you sometimes! We often miss some of the best stuff because we actually tend to only see half of the way: The half that lays in front of us. The simple act of regularly turning your head in the opposite direction can give you a new way of looking at things. As metaphorical as this may sound, I mean it quite literally, do a 180!

If you only look in  front of you, you're going to miss a lot!

If you only look in frontof you, you're going to miss a lot!

9. Plan extra time

Time flies when you're having fun! Or when you're working the scene to find the perfect angle. Hiking and photography go great together but be aware that traveling the same distance takes twice as long when you're taking your gear with you. That's also something you should consider when you're hiking with company. Be considerate, that friendship or relationship is most probably worth more than a photo of that ladybug. 

10. Just be in the moment sometimes

The journey is its own reward, as they say. Don't let photography get too much in the way of your adventure! As with the last tip, this is especially true when you're not traveling alone, because if all you care about is your camera, your next hike will probably be quite a bit lonelier.

Give your companions and yourself a break sometimes. Don't let all your experiences be through the lens!

Give your companions and yourself a break sometimes. Don't let all your experiences be through the lens!

So, that's that! Like always, all the images were shot with my trusty Fujifilm X-T1. Let me know if my tips were helpful to you, or if you'd like to add some hints of your own, simply write them in the comments below. Thanks for reading, subscribing and supporting me!