When I was asked to write an article about some tips for adventure photography my mind went into overdrive… where to begin! After some consideration I decided to avoid focusing on camera settings and shooting techniques, which is dangerous territory and would probably just lead to a long winded article and ‘technical data overload’ for readers. Instead I’ve tried to look at some equally important & often overlooked aspects of photographing the outdoors that might not initially spring to mind.

Get inspiration from others

For me, one way to grow as an image-maker is to surround myself with the work of others who are far more experienced than I am. Instagram and Facebook and the Internet in general, have made it easy to follow your favourite photographers and gain insight into how they operate. Here are a few great shooters who are inspiring me at the moment: Jimmy Chin, Renan Ozturk, Krystal Wright, Corey Rich, Jonas Bendicksen, John Griffith, Corey Richards, Keith Ladzinski, Chris Burkard, Murray Fredericks & Alexandre Buisse.


Aleaja Bridge over the Mae Kok River, Chiang Rai Region, Northern Thailand


Now you’re looking at some great photo makers, lets move onto that old chestnut… your kit. It really doesn’t matter what camera you’re using now, most modern offerings are more than capable of capturing quality timeless photographs. Just learn how to make that beast sing. Knowing your camera inside out will go a long way in maximising your chances of getting great images. Read the manual, and do a search online, there are endless great tutorials and articles that can explain the various settings and options available and when you might use them. As far as my kit goes – I’ve always used Canon gear simply because it’s what I started with and the gear is super reliable. Currently I’m shooting with 5D MkIII & mkII bodies and a collection of L Series lenses. A little Sony A7II also just joined the family, for when lugging the big Canon kit around isn’t practical.


Panorama of The Upper Noosa River from Harry’s Hut. Cooloolah Conservation Area, Queensland Australia.

Be prepared

Make sure your gear is clean, organised, and ready to go before you need it. Someone once said that the best camera is the one in your hand (or something like that…). When trekking and climbing I use a nifty little gizmo called a Capture Clip made by Peak Design which allows my Digital SLR camera to be holstered from any backpack shoulder strap, ready for deployment at a moments notice. Depending on the activity and weather conditions, I’ll keep my camera handy on the clip, or even secure it directly to my climbing harness for some vertical endeavours. Remember to prep and check your gear often, especially the night before a early start or important shoot. There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing the potential for an amazing photograph materialise in front of you, only to discover a dead battery, or forgetting to check your cameras exposure settings and receiving a black frame for your troubles. Sleeping with batteries or keeping them warm in your jacket can prolong their life in cold conditions, and there are great portable solar charging options from companies like Power Traveller that can keep your gear up and running for extended trips.

Rijan topping out on Mt, Alymer [2699m], followed by the obligatory summit selfie. By keeping my camera within reach during the climb, I was able to belay with one hand (using an auto-block) and shoot with the other to get this shot.

Study the light and weather patterns

This one goes hand in hand with many of the adventurous activities you’ll be photographing. You’re no doubt already aware that having decent grasp on weather and climate is something that’s vital for enjoying the outdoors in safe and productive way. Knowing how this can translate into good images is another valuable skill. Sometimes the two might not quite align, i.e. shooting rock climbing in a storm might look epic in photos, but it’s going to probably be quite dangerous. Finding that happy medium is key. Know you sunrise and sunset times, full moon cycles, tidal patterns, avalanche situation, expected rainfall, etc. Take a compass, it might save your life one day when you get lost… but you can also use it to orient your tent/camp to capitalise on an epic sunrise. During daylight hours you can plan for shots to be captured later in the day. Fumbling around with your camera gear in the dark isn’t usually fun, especially when it’s below freezing outside and your fingers are losing sensation!

Sunrise at Whitehorse Hill Conservation Campground, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

It’s in the details

It’s nigh impossible to recall every detail relevant every shot once you’re back to the warm comforts of home, and sorting though potentially thousands of images. Particularly on longer trips it’s important to keep a journal or diary of some description. This reference – containing vital info such as names, locations, quotes, climate conditions, etc – will be invaluable when it comes to post-production, captioning, article writing and telling a story with your images. **Note: The time and date info will be recorded by your camera, and even GPS coordinates on some models.

Crossing the Tasman Glacier before sunrise. With my notebook on the right – showing a roughly drawn route map of that day, plus a few details like temperature, start times, elevations, etc.

Find interested co-adventurers

Having a solo adventure is a unique experience, but it can get lonely. Plan trips with like-minded people who share your interest in both the outdoors and making cool photos. Your mates aren’t going to stand out there in the cold looking up at the stars for extended periods unless they’re as keen as you are, trust me. (Side note, Thankyou to anyone I’ve made do that. You know who you are!). Work together. The most rewarding and successful photos are often collaborations between two or more great minds.

Camped up on South Bald Rock, Girraween National Park, Queensland, Australia. Despite being in sunny QLD it was about -5 degrees and windy that night!


My lifelong friend and trusty adventure companion Kai, always up for helping get ‘the shot’. Even if that means standing in the pouring rain… Thanks mate! – Mount Cougal Section, Springbrook National Park, Queensland

Share your images

Good images deserve to be seen and appreciated. Show your favourites to friends, family & colleagues and don’t be shy to ask for some constructive feedback. Upload some photos to Facebook, create an Instagram, start a blog, build a website. All of these avenues, and more are free (or can be), you just need to put some time and effort in. Try to keep your online portfolio/s up to date, with your latest and strongest work on display. Photographers are visual storytellers, and any good story needs to be told.

The best way to become an adventure photographer is to go on adventures take some memorable and creative images. Then, work on getting them seen. It’s not something you can do 5 week crash course on.  The mountains, ocean, desert & forest, rivers, basically the whole natural world is your classroom, and the time to get to class is now! That’s all from me for now, happy shooting and adventuring.

My online homes are: lachlangardiner.com & Instagram

Yours truly waiting for the sunrise just outside of Kelman Hut [2460m] in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. If no-one else wants to brave the cold, it’s self timer selfie time!

About The Author

Lachlan Gardiner

Lachlan works as a freelance photographer, writer and videographer. His practice lies somewhere between storytelling and being a total gear nerd. Often found hiking, mountaineering, climbing, cycling, packrafting, or just hunting down the next story - Lachlan will take basically any excuse to get into the outdoors. In between all of the above, he also works in our Paddy Pallin store in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

11 Responses

  1. Matt Myles

    Hi Lachlan – enjoyed your article. I’m planning to trek to Everest Base Camp in November and have decided NOT to take my bulky/heavy DSLR (even with a lightweight zoom lens) and am taking a Panasonic Lumix TZ10 (or ZS7) instead.
    Do you have any advice re memory cards – especially makes that are suitable for low temperatures? I’m also taking a lightweight tripod.

    • Lachlan Gardiner
      Lachlan Gardiner

      Hi Matt,
      Awesome to hear you’re off to Nepal. My personal advice would actually be to consider taking your DSLR (what camera/lens have you got?) and maybe leave the tripod behind. Almost all of my nighttime shots are without a tripod, improvised rock-pod, bag-pod, fence-pod, etc do the job! Whenever I’ve opted to leave the big camera behind on an adventure, the photographer in me always regrets the decision. Something else to consider is that your DSLR will probably have better weather sealing, longer lasting batteries and of course will produce higher quality images than the little compact Lumix. Both cameras will capture and record your trip well for sure, just the big one might do a better job. As for memory cards – check out the Sandisk Extreme SD series (varying levels depending on how much you’d like to spend). I’d also take several smaller cards, in lieu of one monster capacity one – so all your images are not lumped in together in case of disaster. Don’t forget to keep the spare batteries warm in your sleeping bag & down jacket. Happy trekking mate!

      • Matt Myles

        Hi Lachlan – thanks for your follow-up. I agree with your comments and the prospect of having RAW files to ‘tweak’ is very appealing!
        I’ll check out the Sandisk cards (are they available as Compact Flash size?).
        I enjoyed seeing your portfolio on your web site.

      • Lachlan Gardiner
        Lachlan Gardiner

        Indeed raw files are great, especially when your squinting through fogged up glacier glasses, shooting one handed and managed to mess up your exposure in bright snow by a couple of stops – fixing that up with Raw files is no trouble. With an already compressed JPEG out of camera, not so much… Yes – those Sandisk Extreme cards come in CF, that’s what I use. I’ve not had any troubles with them yet, even in quite cold & wet conditions, touch wood!

  2. Michael McPhee

    G’day Lachlan,
    good article, inspiring!

    I am about to retire and finally reacquaint myself with the bush and long treks and amalgamate that with a lifelong passion for photography, which has had some remarkable changes in my 45 years experience.
    I have a Canon 5D and quite a few lenses. However I find the Canon 6D with the 24-105mm lens appealing as it has GPS info that can be embedded in the metadata. The new 11-24 mm lens is also very interesting to me as most of my shots are taken @ 16mm on my 16-35mm zoom. I think the extra width down to 11mm could be valuable.

    On the other hand I have taken many landscapes mainly of shorelines with the 100-400mm lens. So I have a dilemma of what to take with me when the Bibbulmun Track finally opens up after the fires here. Having the option of lenses 11-400 mm in just three lenses sounds great and something I have waited for, for many years.They all have the same filter size. Apart from polarising filter and a variable ND I am not sure what other options I would consider there? I have a gorilla pod which copes really well with the tele–zoom so that will be coming along.The extra weight is daunting though on top of about 17KG, which I will be backpacking. I have been looking for bags to suspend on my chest of the shoulder straps to no avail?
    Any suggestions or comments please?

    • Lachlan Gardiner
      Lachlan Gardiner

      Hi Michael,
      Apologies for the very slow reply – we’ve had troubles with our spam filter & your comment was lost in about 20,000.

      Glad to hear you’re getting back into the wilderness. Choosing which lenses to take is a difficult one for sure! I’ve also got a rather large collection of Canon glass, but it always keeps growing… Here’s a few thoughts on your gear questions (although probably too late anyway).

      The 6d is a great body, slightly smaller/lighter than the 5d series which is a definitely plus for your needs, but still quite rugged & well sealed.
      11-24 is a VERY big & heavy piece of glass (also not cheap). But, by all means it’s a great performer from what I’ve seen. (it does require an elaborate filter set-up).
      24-105, very decent performance, but nothing outstanding. Great range & cheap if bought in a kit.
      100-400, big & slow but great optically considering the zoom range – the new updated version looks nicely refined!
      I guess one consideration is that you’ll have nothing faster than f/4 in that kit, but for landscapes that’ll be fine.

      I use a mixture of Peak design, Thinktank & F-stop gear for mounting/carry purposes.
      Thinktank do make some chest mounted set-ups, so maybe check them out.

      All the best with your adventures & photography!


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