Hiking and photography are both wonderful hobbies on their own but combined they can be even more fun. There’s definitely a sense of adventure and something that cures the creativity bug when strapping on some hiking boots and taking a camera on a long hike. Some of my favorite photographs were captured along a trail. These are four reasons why hiking and photography are the perfect combination of two hobbies.

1. Photography Is A Way To Get In Touch With Your Creative Side

Many people take up hiking as a way to reconnect with nature, seek peace, exercise, and find stress relief. Photography adds another element to that mental health. This added element is a way to exercise your mind via creativity. Photography for me, is a way of highlighting God’s natural creation and capturing it as a moment in time.   

2. Hiking Can Improve Your Photography Skills

Not all hikes are these marvelous wonders with breathtaking views. In fact, there are quite a few hikes void of reflective lakes or panoramic snowcapped mountains. In the case of some rather boring trails, a challenge I like to look for is to try to find some way to make the trail stand out. An example would be trying to frame a trail in the shot or working on another technical skill. 

This was photographed on the Red Ridge Trail in Torrey Pines State Reserve. This photo was taken in late summer in coastal San Diego. By summer the hills become brown. The main attraction of the trail is a small red ridge that overlooks Torrey Pines State Beach. There weren’t many opportunities in the middle of a bright day to take a stunning photograph so I challenged myself by taking some framing shots using the chaparral.

Red Ridge Trail hiking guide, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
The dirt trail leading from the paved road framed by some branches.

3. Experiencing Often Inaccessible Views  

I’ve found from the dozens of hikes that I’ve come across that some views are only accessible via certain hikes. Take this view of Half Dome for example. It’s one of the less commonly shot views of Half Dome and it was only accessible hiking the 13+ mile trek to the top of Cloud’s Rest. What I love about the shot is being able to see the spine of the dome.

Clouds Rest via Tenaya Lake
The amazing view of Half Dome from Clouds Rest.

Another thing is that sometimes no one hike can be the same. A trail hiked one day could give a different perspective on another day. Take for example this shot captured from the Four Mile Trail looking towards North Dome in Yosemite National Park. This was shot on a hike from the valley floor to Glacier Point past Union Point. There was a small thunderstorm cell that had popped up in the late afternoon in the higher elevations. The storm cell was sitting along a perfect backdrop to this portion of the trail. The chances of me coming back on another day or during the same time next year and seeing this same view are slim to none. 

Afternoon thunderstorms in the high Sierra behind North Dome and Yosemite Valley.

4. Sometimes A Cell Phone Camera Just Won’t Do

Cell phone cameras have come a long way but there are some functions that are left to be desired. The amount of data stored in a photo from a camera as opposed to a phone is just so much more. There are also certain photography techniques such as capturing motion blur from a water fall that a cell phone won’t do. Kitchen Creek Falls is one such example. If I had just wanted a simple picture of the waterfall, a cell phone camera would’ve been just fine. However, since I wanted to capture the motion effect of water, a delayed shutter speed with a camera was an obvious choice. Sometimes there’s just so much more detailed that can be captured with a camera than from a cell phone. 

Long exposure shot of Kitchen Creek Falls that’s much better suited for a camera opposed to a cell phone.

There are a lot of reasons to enjoy both hiking and photography for their own separate reasons. For me the two hobbies are perfectly intertwined to enhance each other. Are there any other reasons why hiking and photography are the perfect mix?