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Ask any fine art photographer "What is fine art photography?" and you'll likely get a response along the lines of "It's about your interpretation of the scene" or "the photo shouldn't just be of something, but about something as well."
That being the case, fine art is really about storytelling, which you can do with any subject - even mountains.
To help you pursue a higher level of mountain fine art photography, consider the following tips as essential to creating images that document the landscape, help you tell a story about it, and improve your connection with your surroundings.
Mountain Fine Art Photography: It's Always About the Light
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It's cliche to recommend that you hunt good light for your mountain fine art photography. Every landscape photography tutorial ever written has something to say about how important light is to getting a good shot.
Yet, here we are, talking about good light again!
High-quality light - like that found at sunrise and sunset during golden hour - can elevate any mountain photo, taking it from a so-so snapshot of a pretty landscape to a jaw-droppingly beautiful piece of fine art.
Now, this isn't to say that good lighting automatically means your photos will be worthy of hanging on the wall, but it's certainly a start.
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Good lighting brings a lot of things to the table for your mountain fine art photography.
On the one hand, it improves the depth of the shot thanks to the soft shadows that fall across the landscape as the sun rises or sets.
What's more, golden hour lighting improves the tonal range of the image, gives it gorgeous contrast, and often gives the photo emotion as well.
You can see this at work in the images above. The first shot is perfectly fine, but nothing spectacular. But with the simple addition of some warm, golden hour lighting, the shot is much-improved.
Mountain Fine Art Photography: Use a Telephoto Lens
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Part of what makes for a great example of mountain fine art photography is a willingness to visualize the landscape in different ways.
Along with that, experimentation with different techniques, compositions, and lenses can often help you develop your creative eye such that you can create images that have more visual appeal.
Using a telephoto lens to photograph mountains is a simple, yet effective trick for bringing a different kind of image to the table.
Since we're accustomed to seeing wide-angle views of landscapes, the impact of seeing a mountain up close and personal is immediate.
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Zooming in and putting the mountain peak front and center means that the shape of the mountain, the texture of its rock faces, and the patterns of the landscape become a much more prominent feature in the photo.
Additionally, with the narrower field of view, you're able to create a much more intimate example of mountain fine art photography - there's no clutter, no distractions, just the mountain in all its glory.
In this regard, using a telephoto lens for this kind of photography is a means of challenging yourself to keep things simple, yet still tell a powerful story about the mountain before you.
Mountain Fine Art Photography: Weather Often Makes It Better
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Though it's certainly possible to create a gorgeous example of mountain fine art photography when it's just you, the mountain, and a good sunrise or sunset, you'll often find that a little weather - mist, fog, or an incoming storm - can take your photos to a whole other level of meaning.
As my good friend and mountain fine art photographer Kevin Vandivier says, "most landscapes require both an incredible foreground worthy of memorializing in a photo and a skyscape to crown it with."
The idea of a skyscape above the mountains is exactly what I'm talking about when I say that weather can make the shot better.
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Just like good light, weather can add tons of drama to the photo.
Above, you can see this concept in action - the billowing clouds above the soaring mountain peaks have a bit of a foreboding feel to them while adding texture to the shot (and lots of drama, too).
Combined with the warm golden hour lighting filtering into the scene from the right - which accentuates the texture of the mountain peaks - you have a recipe for a breathtaking photo!
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With that, you have three solid tips for improving your mountain fine art photography.
Just remember that creating fine art is a long process, one that requires a ton of patience and dedication to getting the best-quality shots.
Additionally, though you can use these techniques to improve your images, ultimately, fine art is all about you and how you interpret the scene. Take a ton of shots, experiment, try different strategies for getting your shots, and you'll be on your way to creating gorgeous photos of mountains.
For more inspiration and information about mountain fine art photography, visit The V Galleries.