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Mountain Scenery: Scale
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Mountain Scenery: Scale

Here's an important point about photographing mountains: You must include some visual clue to indicate the true magnitude of the scene around you. Scale is probably more important in shooting mountain peaks and ranges than with any other subject.

One way to establish a sense of scale is to use a wide-angle lens (24mm to 35mm) or wide-zoom setting and include an immediate foreground subject—a clump of wildflowers or a travel companion, for example. Putting close foreground subjects into the scene helps heighten the feeling of "presence" in mountain landscapes, but the downside is that wide-angle shots often diminish rather than increase the size of a subject.

To make the mountains look more imposing, use a moderate telephoto and include a middle-ground subject for scale, such as a single pine tree or a barn. A telephoto lens will compress the space between foreground or middle ground and background and enhance the apparent size of the mountains. Using a telephoto lens also exaggerates the effects of a naturally occurring phenomenon known as aerial perspective. This effect occurs when atmospheric haze makes each layer of progressively distant peaks appear lighter in tone and color. The diminishing density is perceived by the eye as distance, which exaggerates the scale of the scene.

Next: "Mountain Scenery: Lighting"