Hiking Ireland’s green valleys, scrambling up mountainsides, walking along the coastal ledge, AND capturing the moment. How do you balance photography and hiking? Hiking photography is a fantastic opportunity of capturing landscapes and sweeping views, but it is also a great challenge. Your first hiking priority should always be safety, and doing photography while hiking can become a lot to juggle; not to mention it’s also a lot of extra weight to carry in an already heavy pack. Plus, when you’re hiking (especially with a group) you don’t have the luxury of hanging out until the light or scene is ‘just right’ for the photograph, you have to keep going along the trail to reach your destination.
These hiking photography tips are primarily for photo enthusiasts and amateurs carrying a DSLR or mirrorless camera; one that has interchangeable lenses. However, these tips and techniques can apply to smart phones and compact cameras too!
Hiking Photography Tips
It all starts with packing – what should you bring with you? Of course you have to bring all the hiking necessities like layers, rain gear, water, food, and anything else your guide tells you to include. However, you’ll also want to bring your camera and a couple of lenses. Before you know it, you’ve got a really heavy backpack.
If you have an interchangeable lens camera – then you have the luxury of bringing multiple lenses. However you don’t want to fill your whole trekking backpack with lenses, so choose wisely to maximize your focal range but minimize your weight. Consider a zoom lens that will give you a telephoto option and landscape option; something like a 24mm to 240mm.
If you have a camera with multiple lenses, then you’ll want to protect those lenses well. Most camera backpacks are for professional photographers carrying large amounts of gear and leave no room for other hiking items you need. You’ll need to look for a backpack that will carry both your necessary gear and your camera lenses and accessories, like this Lowepro Photo Sport .
Go Hands Free with a Harness
You will likely be hiking with poles, so consider getting a camera harness that will allow you to keep your hands free while you hike, but also ensure your camera is easily accessible. Cotton Carrier makes camera harnesses perfect for hiking photography. If you are carrying a phone camera or smaller camera, just make sure you secure it with a carabineer hooked somewhere to your backpack just in case you drop it.
Batteries and Cards
Make sure you have more than enough battery power as batteries die fast in the colder weather! Bring double what you think you need in batteries and put them in pockets close to your body to keep them warm and fully charged. You’ll also want to bring double the amount of storage that you think you need as you don’t want to run out of SD card space in the middle of a hike!
Rain Gear and Protection from the Elements
Just like you pack quality rain gear for yourself on the trail, you’ll also want to make sure you are protecting your camera. To protect it in your backpack, Bring a dry sack or some sort of waterproof bag to put your camera in while it’s inside your backpack in case your backpack gets wet. To protect your camera while you are shooting in the rain get a LensCoat RainCoat.
This is personal preference. Tripods are bulky and don’t easily fit in hiking backpacks, so really consider if you NEED to bring it. If you’re shooting during daylight hours, you should have enough light to use a fast enough shutter speed and simply handhold the camera for a sharp shot.