How to get the perfect picture of Machu Picchu
You've probably seen the pictures: the ruins of an ancient Incan citadel, set in the heart of a majestic, verdant valley surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes of the Andes mountains.
'The Lost City of the Incas' as Machu Pichu is known, is truly an astonishing sight, and it's no surprise that it's both a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Trekking the Inca Trail (the iconic route that leads to the landmark) is a once in a lifetime experience and a bucket list favourite, and if you do embark on this journey, when you reach your destination, you'll want to make sure you capture the perfect shot.
There are many things to consider, from the equipment to the viewpoint, but don't worry, we're here to help and have put together some tips on how to get the perfect picture of Machu Picchu.
Bring the right kit
First things first, your camera. There are many options, such as, DSLR, point and shoot or even a gopro. But you can also use your mobile phone.
If you're using a camera with detachable lenses, opt for both a wide lens: (16-35mm / 20-28mm / 24-108mm) and a Zoom lens (200-300mm maximum focal length) so you can capture a range of images. You might also want to bring a polarizing lens filter which will come in handy on a bright day by reducing harsh light.
- Extra batteries
It's always worth bringing some spare batteries with you just in case. There are no charging points on the trail so make sure they're full charged. If you're using your phone, bring a powerbank.
- Extra SD cards
It's always worth bringing some spare SD cards in case yours malfunctions!
- Camera rain sleeve
If your trip is during summer (like our tour), it's unlikely to rain, but it's always worth being prepared!
Find the best viewpoint, or multiple viewpoints
The moment you arrive and first set eyes on the majestic ancient landmark, it's easy to be overwhelmed, not just due to its beauty, but, also because there are so many viewpoints to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones are best.
- The Classic
You've probably seen numerous images captured from the Guardian house, one of the most popular viewpoints thanks to its breathtaking views of both Machu Pichu and the surrounding scenery. Don't miss out on the chance to get your own! You might find there are quite a few people doing likewise, so you might need to wait a few minutes. Use this time to prep your camera. If you have a wide-angle lens now is the time to use it, as it will give you the perfect focal range to capture both the ruins and the dramatic surroundings.
- The Terraces
This viewpoint is generally quieter than the classic vantage point (meaning you'll have more space and time to get your perfect shot) and is situated just a short stroll away. Keep your wide-angle lens on for this one to capture the full spectacle.
- The Sun Gate
The 'Sun Gate' is another of the most popular Inca trail viewpoints thanks to the truly astonishing panoramic views of the landmark (which are arguably the most spectacular available). Your wide-angle lens will come in handy once again to capture the full vista, but you might also want to use your zoom lens to capture some alternative details. Unlike most, our Trek the Inca Trail tour arrives at the Sun Gate first, just as the sun is rising, so the views on offer are sure to be truly awe-inspiring.
Be patient and flexible
Patience is key in photography, particularly if you are capturing a fixed landmark. It has become popular amongst digital photographers to take images in sequence mode and then select the best ones, but in our opinion, this often only leads to a lot of poor quality pictures. Instead, take your time, and find the perfect frame and the right focus, and you'll have a better chance of capturing your perfect shot.
It's also important to be flexible. The conditions might not be perfect. The light might be harsh or changeable (e.g during sunset or twilight), and it's important to be able to adapt your camera to changes in light. If the light is particularly bright you might want to use a lens filter, or if it is constantly changing, try moving your camera or changing position slightly to capture the shot from different angles.
Get there early
If you arrive at the location early, you'll not only avoid the crowds and have more time to take your perfect shot, but, if you get there in time for sunrise you'll also witness something truly breathtaking, and hopefully, capture it as well!
Be prepared for mist
Mist is common in the Andes, and you might find that upon your arrival at the viewpoints the ancient citadel is shrouded in a haze. But don't despair, instead, adapt and use it to your advantage. When captured in the right way, mist will enhance the atmosphere and hopefully lead to some truly stunning images!
Start your adventure today!
So what are you waiting for? Seeing (and photographing) Machu Pichu is a once in a lifetime experience that is sure to leave you astonished and your head filled with memories that you'll never forget.
Join us on our 5 day Inca Trail Trek, through picturesque forests and along mountain trails, verdant plateaus and majestic valleys, to the ancient Incan citadel that will surely take your breath away.
All details are taken care of, so you can enjoy the experience to its fullest; create some unforgettable memories, and capture some truly incredible photos!