• Living With A Very Serious Climber
  • What I've Learned: Sonnie Trotter
  • The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre
  • What I've Learned: Mark Udall
  • John Long's Favorite 5.10
  • The Rock Rambo: A "Tough Mudder" For Climbers
  • The Pirate: Adventures with Ammon McNeely
  • Dean Potter: What I've Learned
  • Call of the Wild: America's Hardest Crag - Wolf Point - Is Just a Vision
  • Berni's Tips for the Climbing Road Trip
  • What I've Learned: Heinz Mariacher
  • The Hardest Bouldering in America ... and Maybe the World
  • The Sasha DiGiulian Profile
  • What I've Learned: Chris Sharma
  • Notes from A Generation X Climber
  • Durango Unchained
  • Tipping Point on Everest
  • Tales of Sickness: Pro Climbing is Neither
  • Climbing Deal Breakers
  • Alex Honnold's First Ascent in Memory of Todd Skinner
  • The Seeker: Said Belhaj
  • The Art of Losing
  • Tommy Caldwell: What I've Learned
  • Dave Graham: Looking Backward
  • Reinhold Messner: What I've Learned
  • To the Death: Inside Catalunya and Ridiculously Hard Sport Climbing
  • The Definitive Charlie Porter Profile & Interview
  • Sonnie Trotter's Favorite 5.10: Exasperator (5.10c)
  • Unbroken: The Alex Johnson Profile
  • Steep Learning Curve: Honnold On His Early Free-Soloing Days
  • What I've Learned: John Bachar's Last Interview
  • Listening for the Echo: The Klem Loskot Profile
  • Bishop Bound: The Boulders and Beyond
  • The Eiger the Hard Way: Britain's Boldest Take on the North Face
  • Royal Robbins on the First Ascent of the North American Wall
  • Adam Ondra's Hardest Routes in Flatanger
  • Perfect Play: What It Took to Climb La Dura Dura (5.15c)--The World's Hardest Route
  • Sasha DiGiulian Explains Why We Don't Climb Hard Enough
  • TNB: The Only Blasphemy
  • Everest Deserves Respect: Why It's Hard, From Someone Who's Been There
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • Life on Hold: The Ian Powell Story
  • Return to Yosemite
  • Rope Jumping with Dan Osman
  • Origin of Species: Fontainebleau
  • El Cap's Hardest: Wings of Steel
  • Cragging in the Bay Area
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • To the Rescue
  • The Midwest Mindset
  • Point Break: Fight Over Fixed Draws
  • Island of Opportunity: Exploring the Potential of Puerto Rico
  • Storming Castles: New Routing in the High Sierras
  • Soul Rising: In Pursuit of the South's Most Excellent 5.9s
  • Pure Magic: Spellbound By the Boulders of Switzerland
  • Arctic Gold
  • Where Worlds Collide
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • Tahoe Moderates
  • Comic Relief
  • Shoot Like Simon Carter
  • Kurt Albert: Free Wheel
  • Place of Happiness
  • High Exposure: A Fresh Perspective on the Gunks
  • California's Big House
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • Wild Wild West Virginia
  • Wild Chihuahua
  • Who's Next?
  • Whole Everything
  • What's Supp?
  • Vintage Vantage
  • TURKISH DELIGHT
  • Tuff Love
  • True Believers
  • Tower of the Damned, Climbing the Crystal Tower
  • Top Digs
  • Todd Skinner: The Renegade
  • THE YEAR THAT WENT SOUTH
  • The Upstart
  • Tom Patey: The Tiger of Yesterday
  • The Stone Garden
  • The Secret of Nanda Devi
  • The Hidden
  • The Hard Way
  • THE GOLDEN AGE
  • The First Attempt on Latok I North Ridge by Michael Kennedy
  • The Eyes Have It
  • The Bond
  • The Black is Beautiful
  • Patxi Usobiaga: The Bionic Man
  • The Better Half
  • The Beast of the East
  • Talk is Cheap
  • Souvenirs
  • Southern Idaho Secrets
  • Simon Yates' New Route on Mount Vancouver
  • Routes Less Traveled
  • Rock Climbing in India
  • Ray's Roof Solo
  • Perfect Chaos
  • Open Water Treading in Paradise
  • New Mexico
  • Never Mind The Dinosaurs
  • Mountain of Clark
  • Michael Reardon
  • Melt Down
  • Max Turgeon and Louis-Philippe Ménard: Alpinists and Ice Climbers
  • Making The Grade
  • Local Color
  • Limestone Harmony
  • Landscaping
  • Kurt Albert: The Climber Who Invented Redpointing
  • King Air
  • JUNIOR MINTS
  • Josh Wharton: The Alpinist
  • John Rosholt: Climber and Gambler Disappears in Las Vegas
  • John Long: The Real Deal
  • John Long: Slaying Giants
  • John Long: High Times
  • The Stonemasters Climb at Pirates Cove
  • John Bachar's Last Interview
  • John Bachar Remembers Michael Reardon
  • John Bachar by Henry Barber
  • John Bachar Remembered by Duane Raleigh
  • John Bachar by Doug Robinson
  • John Bachar and the Bachar-Yerian First Ascent
  • Jimmie Dunn
  • Is Mixed Climbing Legitimite?
  • In the Land of Myths
  • Ice Climbing in Norway with WIll Gadd
  • Green Party
  • Getting High and Feeling Good
  • Generational Shift
  • Game On 2
  • G.I. YO!
  • Freaky Folklore
  • For Climbing
  • Empire Blocks
  • Divine Wind
  • Devil's Advocate
  • Deep Water Soloing in Mallorca
  • Dave MacLeod versus Dave Birkett
  • Conquistdors of the Useful
  • Colin Kirkus: Climbing's Greatest Unknown
  • Climbing Photography How To
  • Climbing Jobs, Benefits and Salaries
  • Climbing Jobs
  • Clever Levers
  • Classic Acts
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • Cheap Tricks
  • Charlie Fowler American Alpinist
  • Bouldering in Hampi India
  • Bastard Child
  • Backwoods Bouldering
  • Avoiding Arthritis
  • Attack of the Daks
  • Armenia Rock Climbing
  • Arco Climbing Comp, the Face of 2010
  • Alex and Thomas Huber Climb in Queen Maud Land
  • Ain't it Grand
  • Age of Reason
  • A Short Walk With Whillans
  • John Long: A Man for All Seasons
  • America's Best Climbing Area: Red River Gorge
  • Galen Rowell: The Vertical World
  • The Prophet
  • The Guy Whose Nuts Revolutionized Climbing: R.P.
  • Brotherhood on Orizaba
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • A Desperate Move
  • The Last Moonset
  • Murder At Cho Oyu
  • Climbing Dark Star, a Sierra Classic
  • Rock Climbing and Bouldering in Mongolia
  • Defying the Red Rock Bolt Ban
  • Crossroads
  • John Long: The Royal Scam
  • John Long: The Only Rule That Counts
  • John Long: On the Road
  • John Long: Nothing but Rubble
  • John Long: Mountains of Trouble
  • John Long: Legends of the Mind
  • John Long: Legend of Lord Gym
  • John Long: Guilty Pleasures
  • John Long: Channel Surfing
  • John Long: A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Dreamweaver Mixed Climb: Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Tom Frost and Yosemite's Lost Climbing Photos
  • Refugee
  • Creatures of Feature
  • THE KARMA CONNECTION
  • The Dark Art
  • Altered State
  • THE WATERFALL
  • The Montana Girls
  • PYTHON
  • Moving Over Stone
  • An Encounter with Fred
  • Life Without Limits
  • Self Service
  • The Crossing
  • Disco Dance Party on the Blob
  • Rescue 5.11
  • VSC Reprise
  • Crashing the Heights
  • Cold Justice Paul Cormier
  • Whiteout
  • The Bucket List
  • Finding Nirvana
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Wabi Sabi
  • The Plastic Prince
  • John Bachar and the Cosmic Surfboard
  • Confessions of an Almost Serious Climber
  • Three F's for Jany
  • What's at the root of the name of the route?
  • For the Birds
  • Topropers Unite!
  • The Recreational Life
  • The Cruxiest Move
  •  
    Video Spotlight
    Reinhold Messner part 3: Near dea...
    Reinhold Messner part 3: Near dea...

    Shoot Like Simon Carter

    17-Dec-2012
    By Simon Carter

    FIND YOUR VISION
    Climbing and photography take time and effort to master and maintain. The best climbing photographers are passionate about climbing and don’t forget why they love to photograph it. Being inspired will go a long way toward making you an outstanding photographer, but you also need to know why you are taking photos in the first place. What is it you want to achieve, and why? If you were to shoot for 10 years, what would your “body of work” look like? Would your photos be unique? Answering these questions will help you find your vision, which is the fundamental step toward improving your photography.

    UNDERSTAND LIGHT
    I mean, really understand it. This is more complicated than thinking the best light is always in the morning or evening and blue sky is best (it often isn’t). The time of day, time of year and cloud cover are factors that determine the direction, intensity, quality and color of light. Understanding light will help maximize whatever light is available, and help you anticipate how the light will change. It will also help you decide if you need artificial light, and, if so, how best to use it.

    HOMEWORK AND PREPARATION
    Many shots will work out better if you know the area, the climb, the conditions and the light beforehand. Think ahead about the best angle and position. Consider rappelling and taking some test shots, and work through the lens choices and compositions. Get into position early so you are ready to catch the action. If you set up well enough in advance, and discover that another position might be better, which happens, you may still have enough time to relocate. Finally, be prepared to scrap your plans and be spontaneous. Seize an opportunity should it arise.

    POSITION, POSITION, POSITION
    This is everything in climbing photography, and you don’t have to “epic” to get in position—some of my best shots were taken from the ground, a ledge or the cliff top. Work the angles, which really just means considering all options including the distance you are from the climber and the size he will be in the frame.
    One of the fundamental challenges in climbing photography is getting a good angle on the action and the climb. Often, if you can get farther out from the cliff you will improve the perspective. But getting farther out presents a problem. Greg Epperson has his famous stilts as a solution. Years ago I built an aluminum A-frame structure, which I called the “photo frame.” That enabled me to get 20 feet out from the cliff, but it was cumbersome, took ages to set up and was fixed to one position, so I didn’t use it much. Lately I’ve rigged a camera to a 25-foot-long pole. A video feed from the camera lets me see the composition on a little monitor, and I use a remote trigger to fire the shutter. This is a versatile, adjustable and lightweight solution that I can easily travel with, but not all solutions have to be elaborate. In some situations you can tie the end of your fixed rope to a tree at the cliff base and tension out, or string the rope between two cliffs.

    COMPOSITION
    There are no hard and fast rules of composition, but here are some considerations. Backgrounds can make or break a shot. Use a telephoto lens and camera angle to simplify a cluttered, distracting background. A narrow depth of field (wide aperture) makes the subject “pop” from a nice out-of-focus background of colors, textures and shapes. Or perhaps go wide, wide, wide and show the grand vista and amazing situation that the climber is in. Keep horizons straight; even a slightly crooked horizon will look wrong. Don’t tilt the camera to make the cliff look steeper than it is; quickdraws hanging the wrong way will give it away. Remember the “Rule of Thirds.” Divide your image into thirds, and place your subject off the vertical or horizontal center. And here’s a big tip: think about what is unusual or unique about the climb, setting or situation and find ways to emphasize that; it’ll help your image stand out from the crowd.

    SAFETY
    This is obviously critical, but you must constantly remind yourself. Bringing photography into the mix means there is simply more to go wrong, and you’ll get in situations such as scrambling unroped around cliff tops and across ledges, often with loads of equipment. Rockfall is another major concern both for you and the climbers—it’s too easy to knock rocks off the cliff top or for a fixed rope to brush flakes off the wall. As a photographer you should be especially aware of the safety of the climbers you are shooting. Some people get excited about being photographed, and push the envelope more than they might otherwise. Be prudent about what you ask or encourage any climber to do. No photo is worth dying for, and you have a moral responsibility to keep your subjects safe.

    IMPROVE YOUR CLIMBING SKILLS
    Becoming a better climber will make you safer and more productive. I don’t mean you need to climb harder. Instead, improve your rope work, rigging skills and increase your understanding of what’s going on. These are not skills learned in a gym, but ones that require time on the rock and ice. Do stacks of trad and multi-pitch climbs.

    EQUIPMENT

    For ropes, I much prefer to fix a static cord, which stretches less, making it easier to jumar and more resistant to cutting than a dynamic rope. Even with a static, I use lots of rope protectors and re-belay (tie off) my rope below sharp sections. Rig your ascenders so they are dialed in and fast to use: During a shoot you may need to sprint to a new position higher up the rope. Every second it takes for you to get in position can mean a missed shot. Using a chest harness (in addition to a sit harness) will transform your photography. A chest harness not only makes hanging on a rope more comfortable, but enables you to lean way out for a better perspective and hold that position for a long time. This gives you a better angle, and being comfortable lets you concentrate on operating the camera and precisely framing your shots.

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article:
    Hello