Lessons learned in the wilderness

This is the follow up post to My first hike in the mountains.

In the years after my first hike in the Kebnekaise mountains I did my best trying to learn as much as I could about photography. I realized along the way that it was more to it than just learning the craft of landscape photography. I also had to learn about the landscape itself in order to make images that made it justice.

I had to develop a relationship with the mountains in the same way a portrait photographer does with her or his subjects to tell their stories. It became an exploration in two ways where I learned about light, composition and technique and at the same time explored the mountains and what they meant to me.

Campsite in Sarek National Park on a wonderful September afternoon. Life is good!

Campsite in Sarek National Park on a wonderful September afternoon. Life is good!

In 2007 I did my first longer ski tour in the winter and in summer the same year I went out on my first hike in Sarek National Park. I started doing more and more adventures on my own and they became my school of photography. I went out on a two week long adventure practicing and testing new ideas. When I returned back home I looked at the images and learned from my mistakes. I kept on doing this year after year. It was trial and error. A slow way of learning but one of the best if you ask me. I’m still at it today.

It’s like putting together pieces in a puzzle. For every trip I find a new piece to this endless puzzle called ”Learning Landscape Photography” and once in a while I get a eureka moment: “Ah, that’s how to do it.”

Lesson learned: Even more “ordinary” subjects like this mountain stream can shine if the conditions are right. Sarek National Park. October 2018.

Lesson learned: Even more “ordinary” subjects like this mountain stream can shine if the conditions are right. Sarek National Park. October 2018.

Over the years my adventures have given me a foundation of knowledge about the mountains and how to photograph them. I have learnt about different types of light and ways of composing an image. Living for months in a tent each year in the wilderness also has given me a deeper understanding of these places and how to travel efficiently through them in all seasons. It’s an art in itself.

But more importantly, the mountains and the adventures in the wilderness has become a way of life. I just love being out there.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far on my travels in the mountains that I wish I knew when I started out as a photographer. I will come back to them on the blog in the future.

#1 - Be humble
Go with nature, not against it. It will make life easier.

#2 - Have a plan but be willing to change it
You need to have a plan but some of the best photographs comes through coincidences. Be flexible…

#3 - Be open to new ideas
Take every opportunity you can to try new things. Most will fail, but some will succeed and take your photography in new directions.

#4 - Light and weather is key
A mood or feeling in a photograph is almost always depending on light and weather conditions.

#5 - Coming back is underrated
Most of us want to see new places but the interesting thing with photography is that it opens up another way of exploring. When you come back to a place it will never look the same. Conditions and seasons change and so does the way you see the landscape.

#6 - Spectacular landscapes doesn’t equal spectacular images
It’s easy to be allured by a fantastic landscape, but if the conditions aren’t right the image will not work.

In the next blog post I will write about Mountains & Beyond - how did it came about?

Magnus Lindbom