January 2020, Whistler, BC
5 Tips for Adventure Photography from Michael Overbeck
5 tips for shooting in the mountains from Michael Overbeck, an Adventure Photographer based out of Whistler, BC.
Tip 01 — Tell A Story
Nowadays, what often sets most photographers apart is having the ability to tell a unique story, from a perspective that only they have. Whether that’s a specific topic that you have a wealth of knowledge on or a community of people that you have unique access to. My goal has always been to be a part of the sport that I’m documenting rather than being an outsider looking in. For me – that meant being a part of the community before trying to document & share these stories.
Tip 02 — Shoot Low or Shoot High
Bring the camera low to the ground or stand above your subject. This helps to create a different perspective than what you’d generally see if you shot from normal eye-level. One of my favourite aspects of photography is being able to share your unique perspective with the world, in a way that the human eye may not be accustomed to. This has meant that a large amount of my work tends to be shot from a lower angle or from above, staying away from eye-level angles.
Tip 03 — Create Depth
A vital element to think about is your choice of distance to the subject. Creating depth and using layers to add another aspect to your images. When moving far away from your subject, you are able to bring more elements into your frame. Whether that be a ridgeline, mountain peak or even other people. Pairing this with a telephoto lens, you are able to compress various elements into your frame and choose what you do & do not want to include in the final image. In the photo below – Guillaume Otis had found this line he wanted to ski. In preparation of him dropping in, I tried moving closer to the ridge but then lost some of the background elements that really stood out to me (peak & clouds), so I opted to move as far back as I could with a longer focal length to compress all the elements I wanted (skier, ridge, peak, clouds). After lining this up, we ended up waiting a few more hours for the right light.
Tip 04 — Embrace the Weather
One of the most critical factors to a great image is light. Clouds, fog, rain & snow are all key aspects in creating a unique light source that may never happen again. As a primarily natural light & outdoors photographer – I’m always looking at how the weather will impact a certain location at specific times of day. Whether that be rays of light breaking through on the horizon or a stormy day in the alpine. These factors give rise to a unique look that puts emphasis on your subject & detail of the environment.
Tip 05 — Keep Shooting
Some of my favourite images have happened long after the sun went down, after the skier rode their line or we’re back at the hut. I generally have a good idea of where the peak action or best light will be, but it’s all too often that things just keep getting better or happen in a way you least expected. The image below was from a day in the Whistler Backcountry – grey skies, flat light & no sun in the forecast. We sat around for hours, waiting out the cold & alpine winds, in the hopes that the light may come out. What followed was one of the best sunsets I’ve been lucky enough to see.
Bonus Tip – Keeping Batteries Warm
A quick gear tip I’ve adopted this winter is this great little insulated pouch that HH makes. I originally got it for my phone but have since started using it for battery storage on those chilly days in the mountains.
Michael Overbeck in the VANIR ICEFALL DOWN JACKET