Nature is so beautiful and scenery so glorious, and this is especially apparent when I go hiking and especially in LA. When I finally reach the peak of that mountain — or if I spy anything breathtaking on the way — I definitely want to snap a pretty picture. While the hike itself is very satisfying, I feel doubly satisfied when my photos capture the precious moments well. People actually tell me I have awesome picture taking abilities, I think it’s more because hiking in Southern California just lends itself to this.
Plus you know how social media is these days “if you didn’t snap it it didn’t happen”. And now that hiking is such a popular activity, I think that knowing how to take a quality hiking picture is quite important, so here’s the lowdown*:
- Battery life: This is so important to keep in mind, especially when the sun is shining bright overhead and your phone may keep searching for nonexistent signal. You don’t want your camera to run out of battery on your hike! I make sure to charge my phone fully the night before, and usually put it on airplane mode or low brightness until I need to use it. For those using “real” cameras, consider bringing an extra battery pack.
- Think about what time you go: Personally, I’m a pretty planned person, but even still when my Instagram is craving a good scenic photo I have to consider when I want to go hiking. Sunrise and sunset hikes, and also hikes at the golden hour, always make for dreamy lighting. Sometimes (okay, always) getting up before dawn is difficult, but watching the sun peek over the horizon and warm colors spread into the sky never fails to fill me with awe and joy! So worth it.
- Action shots: You know how looking at a photo always helps you remember what life was like when you took it? I love taking pictures of little flowers on the side of the path, but I also like taking random pictures of my friends that I’m hiking with. Sometimes the candids are profile picture worthy, and other times I catch them at a funny moment. But either way, it’s cool to look back on my photos and realize that not all the pictures are posed.
- Get some inspiration: This applies to both the hiking location and the types of pictures you take. I have some of the best hiking trails in Southern California near me and I’m sure you have your own amazing ones in your area as well – personally my favorite hike of the area is undoubtedly Sandstone Peak Trail in Malibu! (Sorry, I get excited just thinking about it.) Picture-wise, Googling or looking up Instagram hashtags gives me ideas for different angles to capture nature at.
- Take in everything: It’s not the easiest to look all around and also not trip over something while hiking, but the some of my best pictures have definitely been of unexpected overlooks and things. Since you’re in nature and enjoying it, try to really soak in the tranquility! There are also lots of plants and animals around you to admire. Birds are my favorite animal, so when I find a woodsy spot in a hike, I like to stop and see if I can hear any birds chirping.
- Framing and filtering: I took a photography class in high school that told me about the rule of thirds, and now I generally try to follow that when I take pictures. Basically, it means that the main thing that I want to take a picture of isn’t in the center of the photo. For example, the tree will be in the last third of the picture. This helps make the photo look more natural and friendly (or so my teacher said). I also just think it looks aesthetic 😉 While you can consider the way you focus your lighting when you take pictures, don’t forget that there are plenty of tools to crop or edit your photos after you take them too.
Thanks for letting me share my hiking photo experiences with you! If you take any good pictures, don’t be afraid to share with me too with @belyvly on Facebook or Instagram!
*Disclaimer: I use my iPhone 5s for all my hiking photos
Pictures by Lyvly Ambassador: Gabs W.