Climbing photography basic tips - Part 2

Dogs and belayers are more than welcome in climbing photography. This is third part when not just a climber is in point of interest but also what is behind her/him. 

Too much colorful looks funny but ....sometimes...anyway.... Red is good. :-)

Tip 6: Composition

In photography exists many compositions. If you are new in this art, I trully recomend you research on other blogs or learn from books and magazines of photography for common photo compositions like; Rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, creating depth, filing the frame: for example ˝shoot 3 steps closer˝, playing with colors, learn where to place the horizon line etc.

ADVICE for good composition: LOOK AROUND YOU, FIND OUT HOW THE SUN GOES, FIND EDGES from WHERE YOU CAN SHOOT, DISCOVER THE FIELD FROM LEFT TO RIGHT (180º OR MORE), THEN PICK TWO OR THREE POSITION from TAKING SHOTS AND SHOOT FROM THERE, SO YOU CAN COVER DIFFERENT ANGLES. Sometimes is one meter or half to the right much better then to the left and oposite. Try to find yourself comfortable as much as possible and keep practicing. After shooting you can check photos at home and see from which angles were better photos.

Shoot close ups or detail, then shoot normal lenght, or far away from different anlges to make climber smaller in the wall and get a landscape. Keep practicing and be patient.

Examples of pics from different angle and height of shooting.;

Example of the same boulder from different angle. For me the 2nd is better because from below makes boulder bigger and thclimber is more exposed.

Tip 7: Camera settings

My steps: My camera is ON. I check my settings and pick lens for the shooting. Usually I put 18-140mm lens which has a VR on = lens shake stabilizator. Other brands has other signs like OS, VC etc.

Settings of my camera:
Exposure Mode: In (M) Manual mode you control the aperture and shutter speed, which I usually use. Sometimes the sunlight changes so fast, that I don’t have time to think about that, so I put on A (Aperture mode).
CH is for trigger mode, where I use continuous shooting at high speed. in my camera is 6 frames/sek.
WB; White Balance usually I set up on Auto, which for most cases works well. At sunset light sometimes I put on Cloud or Sunlight WB.
Metering: I put on Matrix or Center-weighte metering option. It also depending of light and the sensor sensitivity. Try and you will noticed the differences on your images.
Picture control: LS for me works best. LS=landscape.
Focus: focus-mode selector is rotated to AF- Autofocus mode, I choose AF-S mode and I use AE-L/AF-L button for lock the focus and exposure. I shoot on this manner most of the time. Find where is your AE-L/AF-L lock button on your camera. First you focus point of interest and keep shutter-release button pressed halfway and then I press the AE-L/AF-L button and let loose the shutter-release button and wait for the moment of action. 
Image Quality and Size: I put Large size and JPEG-fine quality in most cases, sometimes I use JPEG -fine and NEF (RAW). Why JPEG format? Because I want to catch an action. When I shoot in JPEG, my camera speed frame is 6fr/sek. RAW format has many benefits, but for me is the most important to catch a moment.
ISO must be as low as possible. from 100 till 1200. It's depends what kind of camera you have. You don't wanna see a grainy noise on images.
Aperture: It depending what you wanna show and what you have on your list on the shooting day. And also depends which lenses do you use and depending how far is the background and what is on background. Anyway many things is involve for choosing aperture.
I set up from F2.8 (for this I use 35mm F1.8 lens) till F11 with kit lenses . In my cases I set up F7.1 or F8 where I can get a climber is sharp in foreground and the background is a little blurry.
Shutter speed: You must catch a moment in climbing, so you need a minimum number of shutter speed as 1/250th, 1/500th, 1/640th of a second and more. It can be less than 1/250 but you don’t wanna have blurry shots, right?!

1/800, F/7.1, ISO 500, 130mm, A ex.mode, Center weighted average mode. 
1/200, F6.3, ISO 1000 , Flash manual, M ex.mode, 10mm, matrix metering mode.
1/1000, F4, ISO 400, 35mm, M ex.mode, matrix metering mode.
1/1600, F7.1, ISO 800, 70mm, M ex.mode, spot metering mode.

Tip 8: Shooting technique

#1: Camera is set up, and keep it ready. Learn how to handle your camera fast. The light is constantly changing, so be really fast to change setting like ISO, shutter speed, WB, Aperture.
#2: Measure the lighting with your camera and set up on correct light.
#3: I shoot with AF-S focusing system. I focus on point of interest-˝move˝, or I focus a hold or between holds (the head and the eyes must be sharp during the move in most cases!) and then I press the lock button AE-L/AF-L for locking the focus and the light. Then I wait for climber’s move.
When the climber starts doing a dynamic move, I usually start shooting a little earlier than the climber is going to do move on hold. I shoot continuously while the AF-L lock button is pressed during the climbing of climber. I stop shooting when the climbers hold it and sometimes I wait a little bit longer, if some other things happened. Usually they start chalking, shaking. I quit shooting at that point, or maybe I shoot shaking with focusing on her/his faces and get ready for next compositions.
I do not use AF-C or AF-C 3D tracking or other focusing system because it still doesn’t works good enough performance for climbing photography. You can try with that but then you will see after shooting how many images will be out of focus. Maybe with other mirrorless or other cameras have a better AF-C system? I have almost 40% out of focus. I rarely use AF-C with locking button but I still prefer to use AF-S and that magic button.
4# Keep changing the Focal length, from 10mm till 70mm. Again, it’s all depends what do you want to show. If the climber is far, I recommend the focal length to zoom in; from 50-70mm. If the climber is touching your feet, put on a wide-angle lens and catch in the frame also the background. Try to play with that.
5# Keep changing the aperture. If you want a blurry background put a low number of aperture F2.8.  If you want to have also a sharp background and a climber, then keep the aperture a higher number like F8-F11.

               Go practicing!

Tip 9: Editing

Day of shooting is over and now from your memory card you put pics on computer. I have usually more or less 300 photos daily. I use SD card, one is 64 and other 16 GB, the best ones, the fastest.
I have ACD-see program for organizing files. In the same program I also import my photos. Then I look them fast for first time and delete all bad ones. Then I look for 2nd time and pick good ones and I put color mark on it, like yellow and red mark for interesting images for repeat shooting, if it possible. 3th time I make sure for picking the right ones (20 pics) and choose from 1-5 the best ones. 4th time I delete some more picture and start with retouching images.
I retouch in Photoshop then I also use from Google Nik Collection tool the Color Efex Pro, which is really fun to use filters.

Example of images:
normal retouching with Photoshop
Use Photoshop and Nik Collection-color efex pro

Tip 10: Advanced technique

Sometimes or in most cases we climb in two and it's really difficult to find a person who would sacrifice himself to walk 2 hours and climb on great rock and have fun! Remember, no one is going so far and after two hours of walking anyway too tired for climbing and then she/he would only belay for great photos or maybe even climb some easy route. No way! So I had to think to find out a good method for that.

My solution is 
#1  Take a Tripod and remote controls with you!
I use Joby Gorilla tripod and remote controls. More you pay for remote controls, better they works. Or sometimes I forget remote controls, I still can do some shots with with phone. The phone works on WiFi like remote.
Setting of camera: I have Aperture priority ex. mode (A), F8, Metering I put on Center-weighted mode, ISO as low as possible, Shutter speed camera chooses itself for best results but sometimes I put EV to +1/3 or -1/3, depends on light and clouds. I focus the point of interest and then I rotate focus-mode selector from AF to M(button lies on left side on Nikon's cameras) Warning!: Each manufacturer of cameras and lenses has own restriction about rotating AF to M mode! read instruction before using a camera!". The focus now is locked. VR is OFF, because the camera is on tripod. Then I test a shot with remote controls. If it's everything good, then I go belay and while belaying I shoot.

#2 Use a telephoto zoom lens for taking pics from below. In this case I usually find a plant , or flowers which fill the frame. The shots are more interesting.