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A guide to mountain climbing photography

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A guide to mountain climbing photography

Postby nattfodd » Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:42 am

Hi,

after my trip to the Cordillera Blanca, last June, I wrote a guide to carrying and operating a DSLR on a climbing expedition. It covers many things: what gear to take, how to manage memory and battery, how to carry the gear and not drop it, how to expose properly, what makes a good image, etc...

It has now been published on the website luminous-landscape.com, and I thought many people here would be interested: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutor ... bing.shtml

If you have comments and criticisms, I would also be very glad to hear them.
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Postby Charles » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:21 pm

I´ve just looked at the photos so far - good stuff there!
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A guide to mountain climbing photography

Postby Cy Kaicener » Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:09 pm

Spectacular photography - Thanks for posting
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Postby jthomas » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:46 pm

Great article and fantastic photos, but I am totally confused on how you attach the camera bag. At one point, you mention clipping only the left side of the bag to the harness. If that were the case, the bag would swing all over the place when you walked, so I am sure I misunderstood. At another point, you mention clippiing the camera strap to the bag strap, which must mean the bag strap is in use, but where? The only place the bag strap could go would be across the body (under the pack?), but this doesn't make any sense either, so I must be misunderstanding the whole setup. A photo or clarification would be great.

I normally carry a D40 in a Lowepro bag somewhat similar but smaller than yours ( forget the model #). I use the belt loop of the bag and attach it to the waistbelt of the pack via the load lifter strap. That way it doesn't go anywhere and is still reachable. I do like the idea of clipping the camera strap to something to prevent a drop, which is why I want to understand your system better. Thanks!!
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Postby nattfodd » Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:03 pm

jthomas wrote:Great article and fantastic photos, but I am totally confused on how you attach the camera bag. At one point, you mention clipping only the left side of the bag to the harness. If that were the case, the bag would swing all over the place when you walked, so I am sure I misunderstood. At another point, you mention clippiing the camera strap to the bag strap, which must mean the bag strap is in use, but where? The only place the bag strap could go would be across the body (under the pack?), but this doesn't make any sense either, so I must be misunderstanding the whole setup. A photo or clarification would be great.

I normally carry a D40 in a Lowepro bag somewhat similar but smaller than yours ( forget the model #). I use the belt loop of the bag and attach it to the waistbelt of the pack via the load lifter strap. That way it doesn't go anywhere and is still reachable. I do like the idea of clipping the camera strap to something to prevent a drop, which is why I want to understand your system better. Thanks!!


I don't think that you misunderstood. I am really carrying the bag strapped across my body (like if I was carrying it in the city), usually under my pack and even belay jacket if I'm wearing one. I wear the pack on my right side and clip the front end (which would be its left side) to the closest gear loop, but it doesn't swing all over the place unless I am doing silly stuff. Certainly not if I'm merely walking.

You can see a picture of me wearing the whole thing on http://www.aperturefirst.org/index.php?showimage=814 . If you look closely enough, you can see a bronze locking biner connecting the bag to my harness.

Does it make more sense?
Last edited by nattfodd on Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PellucidWombat » Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:26 pm

Stunning photography and excellent "how to" page. Thanks for sharing!

On Denali I just left my DSLR around my neck, held close by my sternum strap and protected from bumps and the cold by the insulation of my jacket - probably not the best idea, so maybe I'll try out your system?

Cheers,

Mark :D
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Postby jthomas » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:36 pm

OK, it is clearer now. Your camera bag is quite a bit larger than mine, so I can see the need. Your bag is about twice the size of the one I use to hold my D40, so it wouldn't work to put it on the pack waist belt like I do. I still like the idea of clipping the camera neck strap to something, so I still need to work on that.

Changing the subject, the biggest problem I have had since switching to digital is blown highlights. I never had a problem with film, but digital is one screwup after another. I got so frustrated that I went back to center weighted metering, which seems to have fewer problems. Your system of checking the histogram after each shot will obviously work, but I honestly can't see how I would do that on a climb.

Whatever you are doing obviously works, because your photos are fantastic!
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Postby Rocky Alps » Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:55 pm

Despite only being a hiker and not having to worry about a lot of the things a real mountaineer/photographer needs to be proficient in, I gleaned several good tips from your article.

By the way, that picture of the northwest ridge of Chopicalqui is absolutely amazing!
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Postby Matthew Van Horn » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:32 pm

My goodness that is excellent photography.
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Postby Haliku » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:10 pm

Excellent all around. Thank you for sharing. Cheers!
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Postby Wastral » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:31 pm

Checking the historgram after the shot doesn't help much, CHECK IT BEFORE you shoot. Its what Live View is for. Live View + historgram + manual = no blown highlights.

Or as he does dial in a function for an automatic -0.7ev on EVERY shot. I find on my personal cam is closer to -1.7 ev, but hey they are all different. Putting a camera on auto, why have a DSLR to start with?

Brian
jthomas wrote:OK, it is clearer now. Your camera bag is quite a bit larger than mine, so I can see the need. Your bag is about twice the size of the one I use to hold my D40, so it wouldn't work to put it on the pack waist belt like I do. I still like the idea of clipping the camera neck strap to something, so I still need to work on that.

Changing the subject, the biggest problem I have had since switching to digital is blown highlights. I never had a problem with film, but digital is one screwup after another. I got so frustrated that I went back to center weighted metering, which seems to have fewer problems. Your system of checking the histogram after each shot will obviously work, but I honestly can't see how I would do that on a climb.

Whatever you are doing obviously works, because your photos are fantastic!
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Postby nattfodd » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:13 am

Live view with glacier sunglasses and direct sunlight simply doesn't work. One huge advantage of DSLR is the optical viewfinder, so I make sure to use it. And I don't see the problem in shooting, checking histogram and checking again in case it's not good. The whole thing barely takes two or three seconds.
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Postby Nelson » Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:40 pm

Not to mention that Live View greatly reduces the camera's battery life, an issue of some importance both in the backcountry and at cold temps.

Thanks for that article nattfodd, nicely done and great photos.
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Postby Wastral » Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:29 pm

That is why you need a Live View Electronic View finder(EVF) camera. I never use the LCD screen on my cam. It is always off. True, its "ancient" in today's camera biz, but it still has an excellent lense on it, even if it is "only" 10M pix.
Sony R1, 2 lbs.
600-650 pics/battery

I use it with my glacier glasses on. Puts on orange tint on things through the glasses, but hey, can't have everything. Have found that for Landscape photography, there is no advantage for an optical viewfinder. Action on the other hand... Definetely want an optical. Then again, my R1 is ancient and I am sure the Electronic View finders are far superior today. Can't wait till the major camera makers get rid of the Stupid mirror box and lighten everyones camera up!

The future is here in the Panasonic GH1. 1 camera 2 reliable functions.

Brian

Nelson wrote:Not to mention that Live View greatly reduces the camera's battery life, an issue of some importance both in the backcountry and at cold temps.

Thanks for that article nattfodd, nicely done and great photos.
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:57 pm

Great stuff, thanks.
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