Capturing Alpine Light

Capturing Alpine Light: Learn how to capture the best light on alpine peaks.


Sunrise in the mountains is always magical to witness and pre-dawn pink alpenglow bathing high peaks has to be some of the most beautiful light to capture. The dawn air is clearer than any other time of day, offering crisp views and vivid colours. As the sun then breaks the horizon, it casts a wonderful low and warm light across the landscape, offering some of the best lighting of the day.
Mt Cook

Day Time

Dat time is not best for capturing views of snow covered alpine peaks. Especially the middle of a bright summer's day when the light is very harsh, as the sun is high in the sky, making everything very flat. Shooting in the morning/afternoon will offer a more interesting light.
Mt Cook


Sunsets offer a softer light than sunrise, as the sky is full of wind-borne particles from the day. This thicker atmosphere at dusk can tend to dull the colours, leading to more washed-out sunsets. On the other hand, lots of dust can have the effect of scattering light across a greater region of the sky, creating a larger drape of colours.
Mt Cook Photography Workshop

After Dark

After dark the mountains can retain a very subtle light long after the sun has actually set. Once every last bit of the light of the day has slowly faded away, night opens up a whole new world of star filled skies. The light of a full moon on a clear night can also light up snowy peaks enough to capture the mountains in a whole different light.

Capture sunrise and sunset in the mountians on our 4-day Mt Cook Landscape Masterclass workshop or our  Weekend Tongariro Landscape Workshop

About the Author
Richard Young is a full-time landscape and wildlife photographer based in Wellington. He has been guiding groups of photographers in New Zealand since 2010 and founded New Zealand Photography Workshops in 2013.

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