Mountain Landscape Photography Tips

Last Updated on May 10, 2021

gorgeous mountain scene reflected in lake

Mountain landscape photography is one of my all time favorite types of photography. I have had the opportunity to travel the world photographing majestic mountain scenes and I’ve learned a few things along the way that will help you improve your mountain photography.

Whether capturing majestic summits or photographing mountains reflected in lakes, there are so many amazing scenes just waiting for you to photograph. Read on for my top tips for mountain photography.

Gear For Photographing Mountain Landscapes

While my gear list is quite long, you don’t need to spend a fortune to take amazing landscape photographs. It all starts with the gear you carry. I always recommend going for quality over quantity and starting slowly.

Expensive camera’s are not required for great pictures. If you start out with a camera that has very little resolution (low megapixel count), a tripod and remote shutter release, then your pictures will appear bland and uninteresting.

Check out my nature photography camera guide for help picking a camera if you don’t already have one.

Mountain landscapes also require the right type of lens. The same rule applies here – start slowly. Start with a zoom lens that covers enough focal lengths to capture most of the scenery, then move up to a wide angle lens and finally a telephoto lens.

I use three lenses for most of my mountain photography, but if you don’t need anything fancy you can get by with just one of them. If you prefer shooting color, I recommend using a wide angle lens in two ways – for sweeping landscapes and contrasty wildflower and forest shots.

You will also want a tripod for shooting landscape. I recommend getting a sturdy tripod and investing in the best quality for your photography. The type of tripod you use is very important as it will dictate how good your pictures are at the end of the day.

The tripod needs to keep your camera steady during long exposures of mountain landscapes. I would recommend a tripod with a rigid mount, such as a ballhead or pan and tilt head.

This makes it easy to balance the camera in any position without having to rotate the tripod itself.

It is also important that you use some kind of release for long exposures like this – either a cable shutter release or remote shutter control. The picture quality is drastically improved over simply using the camera’s timer delay mode.

Favorite Mountain Photography Tips For Picking A Location

Picking the right location for your mountain photography is probably the most important factor in creating a great shot. You can have the greatest camera, lens, and tripod in the world but if your subject doesn’t have spectacular vistas, your pictures are not going to turn out well. Luckily, there are plenty of great mountain scenes to photograph all over the world.

For more scenic mountain photography, some of my favorite places have included Glacier National Park in Montana, Banff National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park and Mt. Shasta National park in California.

How To Photograph Mountains Reflective In Lakes

So far I’ve only shown a few reflections of mountains on lakes, but there is a lot more that you can do with this technique. I like to use two different types of reflection shots when I’m taking pictures of mountain landscapes reflected in lakes.

Reflections In Large Lakes

I like to go out and find lakes as big as the view you will see in these pictures. In this case, Pacific Northwest in Oregon has many lake areas that offer spectacular views from high up on the hillsides. I like to go out and camp by one of these watery views to get some great photos of mountain landscapes reflected in the large lakes.

Reflections In Small Lakes

I like to find smaller lakes in the mountains that are still scenic because I can get more scenery into my photos. This small lake near Glacier National Park is a perfect example of this.

I also like to photograph large lakes at sunrise or sunset. If you go out at the right time, you can get both spectacular reflections and a variety of beautiful scenery in the shadows of the mountains.

How To Photograph Mountains And Clouds From The Water

Another great way to take pictures of mountain landscapes is from the water. I like to get out on the water with my kayak and paddle around for hours searching for scenic reflections on calm, shallow waters.

I have also taken pictures from a speedboat. What you use isn’t important, it’s all about getting that perspective only the water can offer.

Low Light Mountain Landscape Photography

Another great type of mountain landscape photography is capturing the beautiful sunrises and sunsets (the golden hour) that happen in the mountains. I like to go out late in the evening with my tripod and remote shutter release and find a way to balance my camera so it stands upright on its own.

Then, I use my remote shutter release to take long exposures of sunrises or sunsets in large mountain vistas. You can get some great sunrises in the mountains simply by waiting until the sun rises over the horizon. I like to use this technique in Washington, Oregon and Canada.

How To Photograph Bald Eagles In The Mountains

Bald Eagles are another regular subject for my mountain photography. In fact, they are my favorite bird of all time! I love photographing bald eagles around lakes and rivers because it gives me a chance to get out on the water with them.

One of my favorite ways to photograph Bald Eagles in the mountains is to set up on a small island or in a shallow river. I can then wait for the eagles to fly down and then take pictures of them as they land on a branch or rock.

The best thing about this type of shot is that you don’t always have to be right next to them, you can often get away with being around 50-100 feet away from them as long as there isn’t much background clutter in your shot.

Bottom Line

If you love to get out on the water with your camera and find scenic reflections in lakes, rivers and streams then take a look at the rest of this site. It has a whole series of free photography tips, tutorials, how-to’s and more! If you love to get out on the water with your camera and find scenic reflections in lakes, rivers and streams then grab your camera and get out there.