clouds near kilimanjaro summitWalking among the clouds – Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photo: Elizaveta Popov


Kilimanjaro’s majesty is almost impossible to describe, but they always say a picture is worth a thousand words; photos of Africa’s highest peak convey the wonder and strange beauty of Kili immediately. Thomson Kilimanjaro trekkers regularly capture breathtaking images during their time on the mountain. The photographs are so impressive, we wanted to learn more about what went into them. In this ongoing series, our most avid photographers share some of the secrets behind the stunning images that make us all wonder “How’d you get that shot?”

Photographer, Elizaveta Popov joins us today.


About the Photo

What do you like about this shot?

To be honest, I was surprised when you chose this shot and I had to go back and really think about what stood out to me in this photo.

Technically I suppose its a good shot, the exposure is good, and it’s in focus. Emotionally there’s more involved. When our plane flew into Tanzania it was already dark and we couldn’t see Kili that night, so naturally we were up with the first light. Seeing it for the first time I remember thinking how much taller it is than I thought it would be. The summit reaches into the clouds and in the afternoon it is enveloped by them and you can no longer see it. On the summit day, being able to walk among the clouds that only days earlier we admired from the valley was one of the best experiences of my life. This shot captures that feeling for me.

What type of planning was involved in order to capture this image?

There wasn’t much planing involved. The photo was taken on our way back down from the summit. I hung back from the group a bit as the clouds were rolling in, and I was just lucky to be in that place at that time.

However, we started our ascent at 4/5AM instead of 12AM and reached the summit at 2PM. We were one of the last groups at the top, and it was amazing to have it all to ourselves. I think that helped in capturing this image because it wasn’t crowded and the clouds start coming in in the afternoon.

Which camera did you use, and why?

I used a Canon 5D Mark III because it’s the best camera I own. I thought about bringing a 60D instead because it’s lighter, but the 5D is a full frame, and the extra pound was worth it.

Which settings did you use? Are there any technical tips you have for photographers who are more advanced?

The settings were: ISO400, f/16, 1/1000 sec. I don’t consider myself advanced, so it’s funny giving out advice. The only tip I can think of is, it’s better to underexpose the shot than to overexpose it. It was really bright at the summit, which could overexpose and wash-out the image; I couldn’t really trust the light meter. Underexposing it just a bit helped bring out the details, layers, and dimensions of the clouds.

Which tools, during either the shooting or editing process, did you use to enhance the photo?

I used Lightroom.

What advice do you have for Kilimanjaro trekkers who want to capture the perfect shot?

Bring the best camera you have. I know Thomson discourages DSLR cameras [while trekking] — and they are heavy and bulky; the extra weight on summit day was not fun, but I would have regretted not bringing it. On this trek I brought the 5D, 2 lenses (16-35mm and 24-70mm), and a tripod. The camera gear weighed about 12 lbs. I was conscious of the weight, and because we didn’t do a safari I didn’t bring my zoom lens (70-300mm). However, the day before we started the trek we stayed the night at Ndarakwai Ranch and were lucky enough to see elephants, giraffes, and other wildlife. The zoom lens would have been great to have and what’s an extra pound or two. 😉

What’s your favorite tip to give fellow photographers?

Don’t be lazy to get the camera out. After a while it gets uncomfortable having a camera dangle off your shoulder as you hike and taking it in and out of your pack becomes annoying, especially as you start reaching higher elevation. But if you see something that catches your eye, don’t be lazy — take it out of your pack.


About Elizaveta Popov

How many years of professional photography experience do you have?

“Professional” experience in minimal, about 4-5yrs. I’ve worked as an assistant for a wedding photographer shooting a few weddings a year, and on my own mainly doing family photography.

What’s your favorite thing to photograph?


What do you think of a Kilimanjaro trek as an overall photographic opportunity? What made it special to photograph?

It has been a dream to visit Tanzania/Kilimanjaro; it was incredible to photograph. We flew in a day early before the trek and took a cab into Arusha. It was amazing to see the people, the markets and to feel the energy of the city.

Where can we find your work?

You can find my work here:



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