Best Photography Tips – Shooting People in a Trek Part 2

The Best Lens

The choice of a lens is critical on a trek and it depends on the kind of pictures you wish to shoot. Most people ask me – What is the best lens for taking people pictures in the hills? Well, finding a best lens is like finding a perfect husband (or a perfect wife)! Can you find one? It all depends on what you want. A lens can be good at one aspect but might be useless for others.
For portraits, a prime lens is a good choice. They typically are fast lenses with unmatched picture quality when compared to the zooms. A fast lens is any lens that allows you to shoot at a faster shutter speed even in low light conditions. Lenses with maximum apertures (minimum aperture values) of f/2.8 or less are called fast lens. For example the Canon / Nikon 50mm f1.8 is a great lens at an affordable price. But, if you want tightly cropped portraits with good expressions, using this lens might not be a good idea. This is because you need to move very close to the subject which might make him/her uncomfortable. Using a lens with a longer focal length (like a 70mm – 200mm, f/2.8) is recommended in such cases. A wide angle lens is good for story telling pictures. These have a wider angle of vision and also provide a good depth to your picture.

Choose a Pleasing Background
The background of a picture is as important as the subject itself. All great pictures have a pleasing background to complement the subject. Always ensure that the background is seamless and uncluttered. Distracting backgrounds like trees growing out of peoples’ heads seldom look impressive. If you feel that the background is not great, try shooting from a different angle. If that is not possible try using a smaller aperture or a longer focal length. This will blur the background and make the picture look more pleasing.

This picture has been taken at an Aperture of f/5.6 and Focal Length 90 mm to blur the background.




Shoot Silhouettes
Silhouettes in the hills can make very interesting pictures. For taking these kinds of pictures, your subject should be between you (the photographer) and the light source. The best times for shooting portraits are in the morning and evening when the sky colors in the hills are very dramatic. Set your exposure for the sky. This will automatically make your subject dark since there is no light source from your side. Make sure your lens focuses on the subject. It you have focusing issues, try the technique of locking the focus after keeping the subject in the middle of the frame and recomposing the frame. The best practice to make sure that your subject has critical focus is to zoom in the picture in your LCD and check. Many pictures look good on the LCD but turn out to be out of focus when seen on the computer. You can also try using adjusting the Exposure compensation for the correct exposure.




Know Your Camera Well


It is absolutely essential to be well aware of the different features in your camera and how to use them to your advantage. For example, you can change the exposure compensation in situations where your camera’s light meter is getting fooled or use a high ISO in low light conditions. You should also be very well aware of the menu items in your camera so that you don’t have to waste time searching for a particular control at the decisive moment. You might miss the magic moment. Take some time to study your camera manual carefully. If you are not very comfortable with the intricacies of your camera while going out on a trip, a reference card is highly recommended. This gives good overview of the features of the camera in a way that’s easy to follow. Some cameras have a few spare buttons that you can program and assign your favorite menu items. Shot in Rupin pass trek – since light was very low in this case, I used the widest aperture coupled with high ISO to take this shot.

Exposure 1/60s
Aperture f/4.8
Focal Length 56 mm
ISO 2000



Think Before You Click 

With the advent of digital cameras we think less and click more. We take the pressing of the shutter release button for granted and just keep on clicking. This results in lots of pictures but of mediocre quality. I remember the time when I had a film camera. Since, there was a cost involved with each exposure I was forced me to think before I pressed the shutter release button every time. I tried to get the best out of every single shot. Of course it’s good to try different compositions, experiment with different settings and take lots of pictures, but always ask yourself a question – “Is this my best?” So, next time you take a picture, think before you click.




Thank you for reading the post. You might like to read my previous posts.

This article is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a professional photographer and a photography trainer. He strives to ‘make every camera-owner a great photographer’ through his photo tours and Photography workshops.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *