Visualization Before a Trip Into the Mountains

Light and Shadow Sketch Sierra Nevada Peaks and Lakes
©Steve Sieren 2011, all work in this blog is copyrighted and may not be used in other blogs with out my written permission.

I sketched out my Plan A idea as shown here. I knew getting up to this spot would take a lot of effort for just a one night trip and I didn’t have the extra amount of energy to climb the 800 ft up the ridge at 2 or 3am in the morning so there’s always next time. I had a plan B shot that turned out to be great but I’d rather spend the extra efforts in getting something not photographed yet. Of course it would of been a lot easier to photograph the lake that I rolled out of bed next to. Instead we walked a few lakes over for a more dominant peak to photograph that was just slightly out of view from our campsite. I pretty much had to trust my photographer friend Floris van Breugel who researched a great spot for sunset and vice versa for my sunrise options, anyhow the place was great for multiple options at both sunrise and sunset.

In California we don’t always have clouds so we learn to shoot with out them, it’s part of the plan. The location in the sketch was removed in photoshop because I don’t broadcast exact locations. The wilderness is too big to have us all flock to one certain place.

Plan B location

Diamond of Sierra Nevada

Visualization is only small bit of what goes into creating great photographs and you’ll find many other options along the trail, near the trailhead and at camp or off in the distance. I have come across many photographic opportunities that I’ve made mental notes of planning on coming back to photograph but in time I forget about many of them. For example I came across an interesting sea arch along the Central Coast of California and completely forgot about until I visited the area again and saw it. I really thought how could I forget about such a great opportunity? In long the run it will help you to keep all of your ideas written down during or at just after a trip. This really helps a photographer keep their views a little fresher in the landscape photography market.

Peaks next to camp.

A quickly composed photograph on the short dawn hike to another lake before sunrise.

An elevated view into the Earth's Shadow from high in the Sierra

An elevated view into the Earth’s Shadow from high in the Sierra Nevada.

Elements of Design - Sierra Nevada Mountains

You can’t always count on colorful fiery clouds at sunset or sunrise in the Sierra Nevada so you’ll find if you practice on working with design of elements under the sky you’ll soon realize you don’t need the sky at all.

I simplified the scene here by making the peak and the grass tussock dominate most of the frame.

I use visualization to maximize what I take home, some of the images were edited years apart but were all photographed within 10 hours of each other in the same one night trip into the mountains. Visualization is a great tool to take advantage of during short trips where you spending a great deal of effort to get to these far out of reach places. It also helps in so many other forms of photography and other aspects of everyday life.

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7 Responses to “Visualization Before a Trip Into the Mountains”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Steve, the black and white plan b shot is gorgeous!! I like that a great deal.


  2. Chris Chamberlain Says:

    Great advice- Thanks Steve!


  3. Becky Parkinson Says:

    I love the entire series! You captured these peaks in incredible light and whether color or B & W, they are powerful images. Lovely!

  4. Floris van Breugel Says:

    Nice! It’s great to be brought back to that trip.. those are still some of my absolute favorite mountains.

    I love what you did with the black and white!

  5. Stacy Lankford Says:

    Thanks for sharing the great images and advice!

  6. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Thank you for conveying to us your useful process. The results are beautiful and different from what we often see in the Sierra. The color images are striking, but I like the black and white even more. Nice work.

  7. Ben Glatt Says:

    Sweet shots bro. B&W is killer!

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