CONTRIBUTION BY JEFF SINON, JeffSinon.com
Capturing the Whites
Tips for photographing the beauty of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are a landscape photographer’s paradise with countless mountain vistas accessible via a vast network of trails that follow along cascading rivers, meander thought boreal forests, climbing to some of the most rugged mountain summits you’ll find anywhere. I love photographing in the mountains in all seasons and quite often I’m asked how I get the photos I make. Here are some of my top tips for photographing in the White Mountains.
Tripod – A lightweight but sturdy tripod is a must. Since I regularly photograph during the low light hours around sunrise and sunset I’m using longer exposure times, sometime 30 seconds or more. Such long exposure times require the camera be mounted securely on tripod in
order to prevent motion blur from hand-holding the camera.
Camera – You’ll need a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens type camera with a wide-angle zoom lens. While smart phone cameras are great and getting better every day, they don’t offer the control over aperture, shutter speed, and ISO you need to make really good photographs.
NOTE: You do not need an expensive professional quality camera and lens to make professional quality photos. An entry level DSLR with an 18-55mm kit lens is all you need to make outstanding photographs. Provided you take some time to learn how to use it.
Extra Batteries – There’s nothing worse than having your camera all set up and ready to go with a gorgeous sunset unfolding before your eyes, only to realize your camera battery is dead. I recommend carrying at least one spare battery when heading out to take photos. Also, batteries don’t like the cold, they tend to die much quicker as the temps drop. Keep your spares warm in an inside pocket close to your body.
BONUS TIP: During cold weather not only do I keep my spare batteries in an inside pocket to keep them warm, I usually keep one of those small chemical hand warmers in the pocket with them.
BONUS TIP #2: When out in the cold, warming up a “dead” battery can often bring it back to life enough for several more shots.
Getting The Shot
Know Your Camera – Take the time to read the manual and learn how to use your camera BEFORE you head out into the mountains. You should be familiar with how to change the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and how they relate to each other for a proper exposure.
You Gotta Be There – I tell all of my workshop students that the most important part of landscape photography is being there when Mother Nature is showing off. This usually means being there during the “Golden Hours” around sunrise and sunset. This also means lots of hiking in the dark, either on the way up into the mountains before sunrise or down from the mountains after it sets. Having a good headlamp(I carry two as well as spare batteries for them) is a must. It’s not uncommon for me to start hiking as early as 1 a.m. for a sunrise shoot.
Get There Early, Stay Late – Speaking of early, the most dramatic light often occurs 30-45 minutes prior to actual sunrise as well as 30-45 minutes after it sets the horizon. So plan accordingly to give yourself enough time to get set up.
Look Behind You When Photographing Sunrise/Set – Sunrise and sunset photos don’t need the sun in them, sometimes the way the light from the rising or setting sun is falling across the landscape behind you is where the real magic is happening.
Be Safe, Be Prepared.
As with any backcountry pursuits in the White Mountains all of the rules of safe hiking and backpacking apply. Mountain weather can change quickly and dramatically so be honest with yourself, know your limits and abilities and be prepared for the worst, especially in the winter, before heading into the mountains. No photograph is worth risking your life for.
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