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Because it isn't there | Mount Tasman

George Leigh Mallory was once asked 'why he climbed Mount Everest?' The legendary British mountaineer allegedly replied "Because it's there."

Not me! I climb mountains 'because of what is NOT there.' No wi-fi connection. No cellphone beeping with social media notifications. No television blaring in the background. No traffic roaring. Nothing but the wind whispering a song through the tussock. Me and my camera. Alone together.

Likewise, when shooting mountain landscapes, I try to keep my photographs simple. Uncluttered. Less is more - more powerful, more dramatic, more detailed.

On my New Years wild camping trip, I climbed Mount Fox, via a vertiginous track ascending about five vertical rock steps, hanging onto tree roots and hauling myself upwards. Four hours later, I topped out at an idyllic campsite with a breathtaking view of the Southern Alps presiding over Fox Glacier below. Pictured below are New Zealand's highest hills: Mount Tasman (3497m) and Mount Cook (3754m), bathed in alpenglow. This image has merit, because of the glorious golden light illuminating the subject matter. However, this composition breaks the Rule of Odds. By including both mountains = two focal points, they sort of cancel each other out. The viewer's eye doesn't know where to settle.

Camera Settings: Canon EOS 5D MkIII | 70mm | f/11 | 1/10th second | ISO 100


By zooming in closer, I eliminated a lot of colossal mountain architecture, selecting just one peak as the focal point. In doing this, the dark ridgeline (lower left) leads the eye through the frame, to the sunlit mountaintop.

Camera Settings: Canon EOS 5D MkIII | 144mm | f/8 | 1/30th second | ISO 100 | NiSi Polarising filter


By setting my telephoto lens to its maximum focal length (200mm), I was able to dramatically simplify the composition. Now, the serrated ridge-line on the left provides an adequate lead-in line to the top of Tasman. Perspective is compressed, and detail is magnified. And the summit falls on the Rule of Thirds. Perfect.

Camera Settings: Canon EOS 5D MkIII | 200mm | f/11 | 1/10th second | ISO 100


You can watch this photography mission on YouTube: EPISODE TWO | Wild Camping on Mount Fox. Or follow Ray as he processes his best images in Photoshop. Enroll in his landscape masterclass, LOCATIONZ.


Keywords: landscape photography south island nz, new zealand landscape photography, wilderness camping, wild camping nz, wilderness camping nz, freedom camping nz, wild camping south island nz, free camping new zealand


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