Succeed when everything sucks in landscape photography

You got up early in the morning, you climbed a steep mountain to photograph a view at sunrise, you are exhausted, then you can’t see anything, because there is only a tight fog instead of a view. Is there a way to succeed if there were more and even bigger problems?

I’m not just talking hypothetically, by the way. In my last YouTube video, I showed you a landscape photography adventure here in the Austrian Alps, where I experienced something like this for real. And that there was only fog instead of a view wasn’t even my biggest issue. I never thought I could fight on so many different points in a single photo day. But in the end, I succeeded and got some photos that I’m really happy with. What happened and how did I manage in the end?

An exhausted start

Due to a knee injury, I couldn’t walk too much in 2021. I only did small steps, and in the fall I tried my first steeper steps. My last real hike was about a year ago. I’m so grateful to be able to hike again, at least from a knee perspective. But the thing is, I’m totally out of shape right now. I’m going to fix this in the summer, but it almost broke me that day. Having a heavy backpack on my shoulders was something I figured out, but then the problem arose.

Are snowshoes only for softies?

I prepared the night before everything I needed for my expedition, including my snowshoes. They are very important here in the Alps in winter. There is no way to walk without snowshoes in deeper snow. You would sink with every step, and you would be exhausted and finished after just a few minutes of walking. I own some pretty good racquets that are lightweight and can even easily be strapped onto my backpack. But the best racquets are worthless if you forget to load them in your car after packing them at home. You already guessed it: I forgot them.

The first part of the mountain was ok, as there was no snow. I already knew there would be snow in the upper layers, but I had two options: give up and drive home, maybe have a coffee and dream about landscape photography, or I could still do hiking and doing my best. As I’m more of a landscape photographer than a coffee drinker, I opted for the latter.

The first part without snow was easy walking, but then there was snow, and the combination of forgotten snowshoes and lack of training is even worse if you have a heavy backpack on your shoulders with a Sony a7R IV and heavy G Master lenses. I had a long argument with my inner temptation, but in the end, I overcame it.

When you think it can’t get any worse

On the way up I realized the ground fog was rising higher than I thought and the chances of getting a clear view of the valley weren’t good. But I had planned to be up about an hour before sunrise, which would give me plenty of time to think about the composition on the one hand, but on the other hand, I was also hoping that it would be enough time for the fog to clear or at least push down due to the high pressure I saw on the weather maps.

Every step there was a fight, but eventually I made it. But you know: whenever you think it can’t get any worse, life can surprise you.

Guess what I also forgot: no, it wasn’t my camera, which I was grateful for. It was my tripod. I had planned to photograph a view at sunrise. Due to the large number of trees in the foreground, I saw a high likelihood of needing focus stacking, and I didn’t have a tripod with me. A photographer’s nightmare has come true.

Was it still possible to succeed?

You are still able to take any capture. You just need to point anywhere and focus. You will get a good shot, you can even post it on your social networks. But is it possible to have a masterpiece, an art photograph, that you would like to print and hang on your wall? There are no guarantees, but it’s not impossible, as you can see in my video. The only thing you can do in such a precarious situation is not to give up.

I found a few compositions, but without a tripod it was really difficult to sharpen them, expose at the right time with sunlight, and manage depth of field, because focus stacking just wasn’t possible. But difficult and impossible are still two things. In this particular case, maybe it was even an advantage that I forgot my tripod.

To see the whole adventure, watch the video above, where you’ll also find plenty of landscape photography tips. And feel free to leave a comment below about the toughest situation you’ve ever had in your photography.


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