If you’re keen on rock climbing, then you know that some amazing photographic opportunities can arise when you’re out amongst nature. What’s more, you can challenge yourself to things that your friends might not believe you can do. It is the perfect chance to take your photography beyond simple snapping, to creating dramatic, high impact images that tell a story of your adventures. It will be necessary to consider what will be the right camera and equipment to take with you, but it is more important to have fun with your photography. Push yourself to try different things. Get creative with your compositions, experiment with your zoom lens and try shooting on the manual exposure setting. To get you started, here is a list of recommended equipment to take, as well as four common rock-climbing shots that you might have seen done before and how you can achieve these shots yourself.
What Equipment to Take
Let’s face it, when you’re half way up a cliff and the sun magically comes out from behind to dramatically light the rock face, you’re not in any position to pull out a big heavy camera and a tripod! You will need a camera that is light and easy to carry, as well as easy to operate within seconds of reaching for it. To make the most of your locations, it is also ideal to have a lens with a large zoom range and manual exposure options.
Here is a list of camera equipment you should take:
– A compact digital camera with wide lens and powerful zoom capabilities, or a lightweight SLR with zoom lens. Preferably between 24mm and 200mm.
– A convenient and padded carry case.
– Plenty of memory – Take a few memory cards or buy one that will store all of your shots. Prepare to take many!
– Spare batteries
– A microfiber cloth to keep your lens clear of dust or moisture, as well as scratch-free.
Some common rock climbing photos that just work.
Here are four different photos for you to try while you’re out rock climbing. Of course, your own photos will depend on your location, weather and even your rock climbing experience level, but these tips for composition and use of your camera can be used in nearly any situation anywhere and will take your photos beyond the ordinary.
1. The Silhouette
This is one of those classic ‘extreme sports’ style shots, and it is where having manual exposure settings may come in handy.
Look for the chance when someone is climbing a cliff face with a bright background and not much light on them in the foreground – creating a silhouette. The important rule here is to expose for the background. Automatic settings may try to achieve a correct exposure on the darker foreground and as a result, the background will be overexposed and ruin the effect. Reduce your exposure so that the background light looks correct.
2. Wide Angle Looking Down
If you’re up very high, you might get a bit scared to look down, but you can miss some great photo opportunities if you don’t. If you’ve made it to the top of a cliff face, and one of your friends is still making their way up, take the opportunity to photograph them. Try using a wide-angle lens and have the person close to the camera. Make sure you can also see the ground far below for a very dramatic shot. Try shooting while their hand is stretched out towards you grasping for the ledge!
3. The Looming Background
This shot can only be captured well if you have a big zoom capability on your lens. The idea is to shoot someone climbing the face of a rock from around the same level as they are with an impressive background vista behind them. Try to stand at least 10 meters away. Using a long zoom, or focal length, will actually give the effect of compressing the background and foreground together, making any mountains, buildings or clouds behind the rock-climber look bigger and closer. At the same time, if you are also using a small aperture, the background will drop out of focus, isolating the climber and creating dramatic emphasis on them
4. Be Creative and Try Something Different
Don’t forget to notice the little things when you’re rock climbing. If you want to go beyond simply taking snaps and start telling a story of your adventure, try taking photos of your dirty boots, the cuts on your hands, some of the wildlife or maybe some interesting shadows on the rocks. Or how about this for a shot – if you’re at the top of a cliff and waiting for someone else to reach you, get ready with your camera to take a photo of their hand the second it appears on the ledge, ready to haul themselves up. A simple image like this can be all that is needed to tell the whole story of the pain, exhaustion and relief of climbing a cliff face.