on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Photography on the Trail

Challenges out in the wilderness

Alex Roddie

Alex Roddie is an outdoor writer, photographer and editor with a passion for the wild places of Britain and Europe. He writes for the UK outdoor press and is happiest when on a mountain as far from civilisation as possible.


By its very nature, landscape photography requires the photographer to be outdoors. But what happens when you extend that time in the wild to days or weeks? How does that change your approach to photography, and what are the unique opportunities and challenges involved with taking your camera on a long-distance trail?

Part of my job is to write features on backpacking, hillwalking and mountaineering. I spend a good chunk of each year hiking through remote, mountainous country with a rucksack on my back, documenting my adventures with camera and notebook, and this has fundamentally shaped my development as a photographer.

Producing quality landscape photography in a wilderness scenario is a significant challenge. Here's what I have learned – and why you should take to the hills for an extended period. I believe it's one of the best ways you can improve your photography.

Winter backpacking above Loch Ossian

Image-first or adventure-first

...photography on the trail requires a different mindset. The image is not necessarily the primary objective.
Many landscape photographers are image-first. Getting the image is the objective, and most of the gear in your pack is photography gear. You probably aren't planning to spend the night on a mountain. The goal is to get to the location, get the shots you want, and get to the pub.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, but photography on the trail requires a different mindset. The image is not necessarily the primary objective. This might sound counter-intuitive to some, but the main goal is to have an adventure for its own sake – and, if you play your cards right, you'll come away with the images you are looking for too.

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