How to make mountains look as tall as they are?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Jan Poulsen, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Jan Poulsen

    Jan Poulsen Guest

    I am often near the Rockies and I have for years tried to get at photo that
    really reflects the size of the mountains, but they always turn out more
    like hills than the majestic giants they are. Is there a trick to doing
    this, or do I need to use a specific type of lense?

    My equipment is a Nikon D70 with the standard Nikkor AF-S 18-70mm 1:3.5-4.5G
    ED. I have also tried with a Sigma DC 18-200mm 1:3.5-6.3 D, but neither
    gave the wanted result.

    I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.
     
    Jan Poulsen, Dec 18, 2008
    #1
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  2. You can do it with long lenses, framing the scene tightly with
    mostly mountains (by moving in), and also by giving size
    references (as with foreground subject elements of familiar
    scale, like bodies of water with trees, etc. - and you can also
    use the reflections of the mountains in the water to increase
    their apparent height). Clouds also help to show scale. You
    can also shoot with wide lenses, but these must be level or
    pointed down somewhat so as to minimize the "building falling
    over backward" effect, and you can even exaggerate the
    "building falling over forward" effect to make the mountains
    look taller. Play with the framing - the tighter, usually the better
    (and don't forget about using vertical framing...). Another "trick"
    is to shoot taller mountains. ;-) While the Rockies are tall, the
    plain they spring from is also high, limiting their height to about
    5,000'. Did you know what the highest mountain in the world
    is as viewed from its *visible* base to its peak? It is Mt. Rainier,
    in Washington State! 8^) While we're at it, did you know what
    the highest mountain in the world is from its physical base
    (something that someone could conceivably stand on...;-) and
    its peak? Mt.Kilawaia, in Hawaii...;-) Compared with these
    (and many others, like many mountains in the Canadian Rockies,
    the Olympics, the Himalayas, and the range that Denali (which
    has more bulk and rise than Everest) is in - which is to say, start
    with other than "pip-squeak" mountains to begin with...! 8^)

    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Dec 18, 2008
    #2
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  3. My post, above, got rather "scrambled" near the end. It should
    have read,
    "Compared with these [named locations of some large mountains]

    (and many others, like many mountains in the Canadian Rockies,

    the Olympics, the Himalayas, and the range that Denali [which

    has more bulk and rise than Everest] is in), the American

    Rockies look rather small - which is to say, start with other than

    "pip-squeak" mountains to begin with... 8^)"

    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Dec 18, 2008
    #3
  4. Hmmm... Well, gosh, I guess you will just need to try applying some
    of the suggestions already made in this thread. The principles are the
    same...8^)
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Dec 18, 2008
    #4
  5. Jan Poulsen

    Jan Poulsen Guest

    Thank you everyone ... These are all the kind of suggestions I was hoping
    for so I wouldn't have to invest in expensive lenses. I now have some ideas
    to try when I am in the Rockies the next time.
     
    Jan Poulsen, Dec 18, 2008
    #5
  6. Jan Poulsen

    Charles Guest


    Don't wait, practice on houses, other buildings. See what works for
    you.
     
    Charles, Dec 18, 2008
    #6
  7. Jan Poulsen

    Robert Coe Guest

    : I am often near the Rockies and I have for years tried to get a photo
    : that really reflects the size of the mountains, but they always turn out
    : more like hills than the majestic giants they are. Is there a trick to
    : doing this, or do I need to use a specific type of lense?

    The trick is to stand closer to the mountains when you take the picture.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Dec 18, 2008
    #7
  8. Jan Poulsen

    Robert Coe Guest

    :
    :
    : >I am often near the Rockies and I have for years tried to get at photo that really reflects
    : >the size of the mountains, but they always turn out more like hills than the majestic giants
    : >they are. Is there a trick to doing this, or do I need to use a specific type of lense?
    : >
    : > My equipment is a Nikon D70 with the standard Nikkor AF-S 18-70mm 1:3.5-4.5G ED. I have
    : > also tried with a Sigma DC 18-200mm 1:3.5-6.3 D, but neither gave the wanted result.
    : >
    : > I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.
    :
    : You can do it with long lenses, framing the scene tightly with
    : mostly mountains (by moving in), and also by giving size
    : references (as with foreground subject elements of familiar
    : scale, like bodies of water with trees, etc. - and you can also
    : use the reflections of the mountains in the water to increase
    : their apparent height). Clouds also help to show scale. You
    : can also shoot with wide lenses, but these must be level or
    : pointed down somewhat so as to minimize the "building falling
    : over backward" effect, and you can even exaggerate the
    : "building falling over forward" effect to make the mountains
    : look taller. Play with the framing - the tighter, usually the better
    : (and don't forget about using vertical framing...). Another "trick"
    : is to shoot taller mountains. ;-) While the Rockies are tall, the
    : plain they spring from is also high, limiting their height to about
    : 5,000'. Did you know what the highest mountain in the world
    : is as viewed from its *visible* base to its peak? It is Mt. Rainier,
    : in Washington State! 8^) While we're at it, did you know what
    : the highest mountain in the world is from its physical base
    : (something that someone could conceivably stand on...;-) and
    : its peak? Mt.Kilawaia,

    Kilauea. But I think you're wrong anyway. I believe it's Mauna Kea (34,000
    feet from base to summit) that fits that criterion.

    : in Hawaii... ;-) Compared with these (and many others, like many
    : mountains in the Canadian Rockies, the Olympics, the Himalayas,
    : and the range that Denali (which has more bulk and rise than
    : Everest) is in

    Don't hold me to this, but I think it's the Denali Range, whereof Mt McKinley
    is the tallest peak.

    : - which is to say, start with other than "pip-squeak" mountains
    : to begin with...! 8^)

    OK, here's one for you: What's the highest point in the U.S. east of the
    Rockies?
    Mt Washington, NH?
    Mt Mitchell, NC?
    Mt Trashmore, NY?

    Nope, it's Harney Peak, SD.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Dec 18, 2008
    #8
  9. Jan Poulsen

    Guest Guest

    I don't believe there is one answer. However I do believe most
    people fail when they use a telephoto lens. It is far away so you use
    a telephoto lens to make it look close, but then when you get it
    printed there is nothing of the effect you saw looking at the
    mountains.

    The problem is you cropped out all the foreground that provided the
    perspective/reference to provide the scale. When you looked at them
    when you were there, you saw all that stuff, all the stuff you saw in
    your peripheral vision, but did not notice. That stuff puts it in
    perspective and without it, it just does not look the same.

    I do agree that after you have captured the whole experience, you
    get the most out of it by printing it large and viewing it from a
    short distance.
     
    Guest, Dec 19, 2008
    #9
  10. Jan Poulsen

    ASAAR Guest

    Hand held. She can take some solace in that you didn't make her
    the butt of your joke. :)
     
    ASAAR, Dec 19, 2008
    #10
  11. The official name of the mountain is McKinley. The native name is Denali, a
    name which many prefer. The native name of Everest is Chomolungma.

    To get back on topic, here is a picture of Chomolungma/Everest at dawn taken
    from Pang La pass in Tibet (17,000 ft).
    http://www.douglasjohnson.org/pictures/Everest.jpg

    -- Doug
     
    Douglas Johnson, Dec 19, 2008
    #11
  12. Jan Poulsen

    Robert Coe Guest

    : Alaska Airline's pilots flying 737 jets, on clear days when it is
    : possible, actually get in route permission and do a 360 turn around
    : the top of the mountain. I've only seen that going from Fairbanks
    : to Anchorage, not in the other direction, which might have been
    : luck of the draw, or might mean the route north doesn't allow it.

    Or maybe you were on the wrong side of the plane. Airplanes, like racing cars,
    tend to circle to the left, since that gives the pilot (who sits on the left)
    the greatest visibility.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Dec 19, 2008
    #12
  13. Jan Poulsen

    NBC Guest

    Get a good P&S camera with 3 inch view screen so you can see what you are
    shooting with both eyes. Then frame the shot so it looks good. Then you will
    get a good shot.

    Enjoy!
     
    NBC, Dec 20, 2008
    #13
  14. You'll never hear me call it McKinley. I'd be happy to sign a petition to get
    the maps fixed. It is Denali, The Great One.
    I've lucked out a couple of times. Here is Denali from the south:
    http://www.douglasjohnson.org/pictures/Denali.jpg

    It was taken in early September from the Anchorage to Fairbanks road. Olympus
    OM-2, Zuiko 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens. Ektachrome 100.

    -- Doug
     
    Douglas Johnson, Dec 21, 2008
    #14
  15. Jan Poulsen

    Mark Thomas Guest

    Yes, risky move... (O:

    Personally I only denigrate images that deserve it. Those looked very
    good (at that size).

    If you truly need criticism - use a little less jpg compression to avoid
    the artefacts (eg look at the stuff in the sky along the right edge of
    the diagonal main cable in the vertical one).

    Other than that, nice images.
     
    Mark Thomas, Dec 22, 2008
    #15
  16. Jan Poulsen

    Mark Thomas Guest

    So.. because it's on the web, you use compression levels that introduce
    artefacts...? Choosing to best represent your work?

    Guess it comes back to those quality standards again.

    *I* wouldn't be happy with that - the image deserves better. But we are
    all allowed our own opinion.
     
    Mark Thomas, Dec 23, 2008
    #16
  17. Rainier is, of course, a dramatic peak with a dramatic rise. I have
    looked at it often from up on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, looking across
    the harbour. It is a beautiful mountain.

    There are places in the Himalaya and associated ranges which are quite
    spectacular in their prominence to the eye. However, I am making no
    claims as to where they rank by your measure.

    From the spot called Concordia, south of K2 in the Karakoram, you can
    see K2 rise 13-14000 feet above where you stand, a three or four hour
    hike from the base of the mountain. In fact, you can see four peaks
    higher than 8000 metres in height, more than you can see from any other
    single location in the world. That includes all four 8000 m peaks in the
    Karakoram.

    From the Shaksgam valley just north of K2 there is a spot where you get
    a close up view straight at the northern face of the mountain, soaring
    above the valley. However, there are so many high mountains in the
    rather small area that there are few places from which you can see even
    the top of this, the second highest mountain in the world. this is onew
    of the closest. Both views I mention are from glaciers running down off
    K2.

    In the Everest region the best view of the mountain is probably from the
    north, say near the Rongbuk monastery, from where you see the dramatic
    north face.

    In the central Himalaya, in the Annapurna region, there are dramatic
    views. One is of Macchapuchare from the Pokhara region of Nepal, easily
    one of the most beautiful mountains anywhere. The Annapurna range has a
    rather dramatic rise, from the Pokhara vallless than 3000 ft to the
    26000 plus feet of some of the mountains, over a distance of only about
    30 miles, without serious intermediate ranges.

    From Darjeeling, where the tea comes from, at about 7000 ft above sea
    level, you can look out across a valley whose floor is at perhaps 3000
    ft, across a distnce of 45 miles, to Kanchenjunga, third highest
    mountain in the world, soaring to 21,000 feat above where you stand.
    Between you and the mountain there is a dinky little peak called Dome
    Peak, completely insignificant against the backdrop, its 20000 ft height
    barely noticeable.

    The only view I have seen of these, regrettably, is that of
    Kanchenjunga. I took a lot of pictures but this was in the film era and
    I have no scans. I spent more than five hours one morning, from well
    before sunrise, taking pictures of the mountain as it glowed under
    moonlight before dawn, through the spectacular changes in colour as the
    sun rose behind me and lit up the mountain, to a pale white to pink to
    gold to a brilliant white against the blue sky. Some of those pictures
    are fairly acceptable. If I get them scanned at some point, I will post.
    I have slides. My pictures were taken with a Canon FTb and a 50mm f/1.4
    lens.

    The visual effect greatly exceeds what my pictures captured, not least
    because over a fairly dramatic field of view the skyline is above 20,000
    ft. You cannot capture that and emphasize the height of the centre of
    that field of view at the same time.

    Images of K2 from Concordia, Everest from everywhere around it,
    Machhapuchare from Pokhara and Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling are easily
    available via a Google search. A satisfactory view of Macchapuchare
    (which means fish-tail, for its split peak, not visible in this view) is
    at: http://www.jungle-medicine.eu/Alex/pic/phewa_lake.jpg . I am a
    sucker for reflected mountains.

    - Shankar
     
    Shankar Bhattacharyya, Jan 2, 2009
    #17
  18. NEAT comments! Thanks!
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 2, 2009
    #18
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