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How to Take Rock Climbing Pictures

Tips for Taking Rock Climbing Pictures
Giving your images some context -- like a wide background of mountain trees -- can make a rock climbing photo more successful.
Giving your images some context -- like a wide background of mountain trees -- can make a rock climbing photo more successful.
Kevin Arnold/Getty Images

The number one consideration for taking a picture mid-climb is whether or not you can do it safely. Before you even reach for your camera, make sure your footing is secure, your lines are anchored and that those climbing with you are aware you're stopping. Once you've done all that and have a prospective target in mind, you're ready to get your gear in order.

Climber and photographer Alexandre Buisse has a lot of helpful tips. One of the most useful is to prep all of your gear -- like putting in fresh batteries -- inside the camera bag instead of out in the open air. One moment of clumsiness can mean a lost lens cap, memory card or even the camera itself, so try to do everything within a secured space. It's also important to make sure your camera is tethered to you before it leaves its storage case; the camera strap on its own doesn't afford much protection when you're clinging to a rock wall [source: Buisse].

Now you're ready to actually take a picture. But what kind do you want to take? Are you shooting the landscape below, your fellow climbers, wildlife or the peak above? Whatever your preferred subject matter, remember to keep it interesting. For example, instead of focusing at a person head-on, shoot them from above or below to change the perspective. When photographing another climber, it's also important to give the photo some context; showing the environment in which you're climbing will provide a powerful frame for your shot.

The best rock climbing photography often comes from capturing the unexpected. An intriguing cloud formation around a mountaintop can turn an otherwise mundane view into something mysterious. Watch the light change throughout the climb and see how it affects your surroundings -- dramatic shadows can abruptly transform the landscape. Instead of posed portraits, photograph your fellow climbers in action. The results will go beyond ordinary sight-seeing snapshots.

Feel like you're ready? Then grab your gear and start snapping. Soon you'll have an exciting visual record of your rock climbing adventures.