on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers


Walk Softly and Leave no Trace?

David Ward

T-shirt winning landscape photographer, one time carpenter, full-time workshop leader and occasional author who does all his own decorating.


Prior to venturing out onto a sandy shore or through pristine snow with a group of photographers I often give them a little advice about tripod rage. This is a serious problem that can result in bruised egos or (in the worst cases) physical bruises, abrasions or even concussion. A minor downside of being on location with seven or eight fellow photographers is that they can sometimes crop up in your field of view. This isn’t usually too serious a problem; most are amenable to a kind request to move along. If they’re not you can always resort to the clone tool, Adobe’s humane method of removing people from your photographs. They might feel a little faint (or perhaps feint) whilst you do it, but at least no blood has been shed. If the location is covered in snow, however, cloning becomes something to be avoided – even for content aware Phil. Better by far to try and keep off the snow until you are absolutely certain that others are done and that you need to tread on it in order to reach the point where you want to make your photograph. Otherwise tripod rage might rear its ugly head as one participant treads on another’s pristine foreground.

Featured Comments From:

Michael SA: Thanks David. Something I have wondered about is hillwalking where this causes damage/erosion. Plenty of mountains now have well trodden paths, and every extra set of footsteps adds to the problem, in some cases creating horrible eyesores. Should we avoid these paths? And what if there is only one safe route (e.g. along a ridge)?

Andy Doune: Excellent article, thank you David. But which has the bigger impact? One out of a hundred photographers tread on a rare flower in the Rocky Mountains, or the global impact of the hundred photographers that flew there in the first place? Sadly anywhere that is popular or desirable will suffer in this way. The only real protection for remote and difficult to reach habitats is to keep them that way. The amazing photography and film making of the last 50 years or more, has educated and informed us, but has also created a huge demand in our affluent society to visit and see these places for ourselves before they ‘disappear’. I’ve always felt this attitude (regularly seen in magazines like the BBC) to be a bit of an oxymoron. How do we solve this problem – I’ve absolutely no idea, just that maybe we should think about that flight to California or South America just as much as not stepping on delicate habitats.

This is a premium article and requires a paid subscription to access. Please take a look at the subscribe page for more information on prices.

On Landscape is part of Landscape Media Limited , a company registered in England and Wales . Registered Number: 07120795. Registered Office: 1, Clarke Hall Farm, Aberford Road, WF1 4AL. Midge Specs, midge net glasses from the Highlands.