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Photography For Climbers

By Mark Reeves

With the advent of small digital cameras the amount of photos you take is no longer dictated by the price of film and development. Instead you can now take as many photos in a day as your memory card can handle and delete the one you don't want. Here we are going to look at tips to improve you photography, so that you can see more than your mates arse.

Carry Your Camera

Photography For Climbers

Taking a camera climbing can give rewarding results, however it can all end in tears. On my first time at Gogarth a friend got half way down the abseil, when he heard the distinctive sound of his new SLR first smashing to several large pieces and then the splash as these pieces visited Davy Jones Lockers.

It not just important to have padded camera bag to store you camera in but also have you camera on a lanyard, so should you drop it it won't go the length of the cliff. Another great idea to protect your camera is to have either a waterproof housing or a water proof bag you can put it in should it start to rain. The cheap way to do this is to use a zip lock freezer bag.

Climbing As A Three

Photography For Climbers

It may sound daft but climbing as a three means that there is a person with both hands free to take a picture.


Photography For Climbers

It is often possible to walk round to the top or side of a cliff to gain a different vantage point of the climbers. In extreme situations this may include abseiling to beside the climbers. This means that the climbers face can be visible.


Photography For Climbers

Traverses make great photos as looking across you already have a near perfect angle of the ground above and below.

Focus Lock

Photography For Climbers

Many small digital cameras have a exposure/focus lock. What this allows you to do is focus the camera on a point and then reframe the shot before taking the picture.
If you want the climber in focus then have the centre of the view on the object. This is normally achieved by half depressing the shutter release button until a light is displayed in the viewfinder.
If you maintain the pressure on the buton you can then realign the shot to get a better compersition and then press the shutter release all the way down and take the shot.


Photography For Climbers

Most digital cameras come with a variety of settings. Here I will go into the landscape and portait modes.

Landscape mode will make the camera have a small apeture and slow shutter speed. The small apature make as much of the frame be in focus as possible. This helps make a landscape shot look in focus from foreground to back ground.

The Portrait mode does the opposite, it makes the appature biiger and the shutter faster. This will make less of the shot be in focus. So if you taking a picture of someones face the background will be out of focus whilst the face will be in focus. What this does is enhance the photo by placing more emphasis on the in focus object than the clutter background.

Wide Angle And Zoom

Photography For Climbers

A wide angle shot makes the distants look longer than they actually are. So a wide angle shot from above can make the climber appear high above the ground than they actually are making a short route look more dramatic.

Whilst Zooming in compresses the distance, so if looking down will make the climber appear closer to the ground. Using a zoom can also help throw the background out of focus in the same way using the portrait mode can. This can be used to great effect when shooting across a cliff as in can compress the background into layers.


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