The photography and the mountain

In 1856, Nadar, a French photographer, writer, draftsman, and aeronaut, described photography as "a marvelous discovery, a science which attracted the greatest minds, an art which excited the shrewdest thinkers, and yet could be practiced by any fool."

How much and how little has changed in these 150 years. It is a fortune that nowadays anyone can "practice" photography; how boring it would be if it was reserved for only a few.

Both the mountain and photography have grown in popularity enormously in recent years, never before they have been as popular as they are today. We hike and climb, we cycle and run: up, down and around the mountain. Thanks to modern technology, we can retain everything in pictures and share our impressions with others via various social networks in a very short time. Visible to everyone, anytime - even on the other side of the world.

However, photography was not always as easy and spontaneous as it is today, in the past, mountain photography in particular was very complex. When the 20-year-old Vittorio Sella (1859-1943), alpinist and pioneer of mountain photography, exposed his first panoramic image of the Monte Rosa from Monte Mars, he had to climb a good half a dozen times before he found the large and heavy plate camera, the tripod and the various utensils he needed to create the picture ready for use on site. He climbed a few more times until the lighting conditions were what he wanted for the shot.

In comparison, the work of mountain photographers is much easier today, with the exception of the light factor. Sometimes you find the conditions you want the first time, sometimes the days aren't what you hoped for; not much has changed in this regard. The more precisely you know what you want to capture in the picture, the more intensively you prepare for a situation, the better and faster you can react to the unforeseen and thus create room for improvisation.

I am firmly convinced that images are like ideas: They arise in the mind, some are implemented very quickly, others less so, many never. Some are realized almost by themselves, others require a lot of patience, some even great physical effort. The latter are usually the images that the photographers remember best, since the physical exertion is always rewarded with mental euphoria.

A double reward, so to speak: a beautiful picture and the fulfilling satisfaction that one feels after a long hike. This is exactly what fascinates me personally about mountain photography.

Georg Tappeiner

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