Best Ways To Take Photos of Rock Art

Are you looking to take your photography skills up a notch? If so, why not try your hand at capturing photos of rock art? This type of photography can be both challenging and rewarding, and it’s a great way to get outdoors and explore new areas. Plus, who doesn’t love taking photos of beautiful artwork?

Rock art consists of images created by people on natural stone surfaces. It is a universal phenomenon that has continued throughout human history. The motivations for creating rock art vary between cultures, but they can be grouped into three main categories: aesthetic, religious/ spiritual, and informational.

Aesthetic rock art is created for the simple pleasure of making a beautiful image. Religious/ spiritual rock art often depicts scenes or ideas that are important to the creators’ religion or belief system. Informational rock art communicates information about the world around us, such as the location of water sources, hunting grounds, or enemy territory.

Capturing photos of rock art can be difficult, as many images are located in hard-to-reach places. It is important to take the best photo possible, as these images are often fragile and can be easily damaged. Here are some tips to help you take the best photo of rock art:

  • Use a tripod: This will help you keep the camera steady and avoid blurriness.
  • Use a low ISO: A high ISO will result in grainy photos.
  • Choose an aperture between f/8 and f/11: This will help ensure that both the foreground and background are in focus.
  • Take multiple shots: This will increase your chances of getting a great photo!

What is rock art?

Rock art is a form of prehistoric art created on natural stone surfaces. It is one of the most universal and longest-lived art forms known to humanity. Prehistoric rock art can be found on every continent, with notable examples from Africa, Australia, Europe, Russia and the Americas.

The history of rock art

Rock art is created by pecking, carving, or incising images into rock surfaces. It is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of human expression, often serving as a record of cultural beliefs or prehistoric narratives. Althoughrock art dates back to the Lower Paleolithic period, it is most commonly associated with the art of hunter-gatherer societies and early agrarian cultures. The function of rock art varies between cultures and regions, with some sites serving primarily religious or spiritual purposes while others were used for more mundane record-keeping purposes. In many cases, the images themselves are the only clue we have to the meaning and function of prehistoric rock art.

Some of the earliest known examples of rock art were created during the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe (approximately 40,000-10,000 BCE). These include The Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,500 BCE), a small ivory figurine discovered in a German cave which depicts a woman with exaggerated breasts and genitalia; and the Lion Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel (38,000-33,500 BCE), a carved figurine depicting a human body with the head of a lion. Both artifacts are believed to have had shamanistic or magical purposes.

The Chauvet Cave in France contains some of the oldest and best-preserved examples of rock art in the world, dating back to 32,000 BCE. The cave is decorated with over 600 images of animals, including bison, mammoths, lions, bears, and rhinoceroses. These depictions are so realistic that they have led some experts to believe that the artists must have observed their subjects firsthand.

During the Mesolithic period (10,000-8000 BCE), people began domesticating plants and animals and started to settle in permanent villages. Rock art from this period often depicts scenes of hunting or animal husbandry as well as shamanistic rituals. A famous example is Çatalhöyük in Turkey (7500-5700 BCE), where archaeologists have found murals depicting animals being sacrificed to swarms of vultures.

The Neolithic Revolution (8000-5000 BCE) brought about drastic changes in human society as people began to farm instead of hunt and gather food. Rock art from this period typically shows scenes related to agricultural practices such as plowing or harvesting crops. One famous example is Stonehenge in England (2500 BCE), where huge monoliths were arranged in a circular pattern thought to represent the movements of the sun and moon.

The Bronze Age (5000-1200 BCE) saw further advancements in metallurgy as people began using bronze tools and weapons. Rock art from this period often depicts scenes related to warfare or other aspects of life such as burial customs

The different types of rock art

There are three main types of rock art- petroglyphs, which are carved into the rock; pictographs, which are painted onto the rock; and geoglyphs, which are lines or patterns drawn on the ground. Each type has its own unique challenges when it comes to photography, but with a little preparation and know-how, you can get some great shots.


Petroglyphs are probably the most difficult type of rock art to photograph, as they often require a lot of patience and a steady hand. The best time to photograph petroglyphs is in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky and casts long shadows. This will help to bring out the carvings and make them more visible.

To get a good shot of a petroglyph, you will need to use a tripod and a long shutter speed. Set your camera up on the tripod and position it so that the petroglyph is in the center of the frame. Then, use a long shutter speed (1/30th of a second or longer) to make sure that your image is sharp. Finally, take several shots from different angles to make sure that you have captured all of the details.


Pictographs are usually easier to photograph than petroglyphs, as they don’t require such a long shutter speed. However, they can be tricky to get in focus, as they are often painted onto uneven surfaces. The best time to photograph pictographs is during the middle of the day, when the sun is high in the sky and casts strong shadows. This will help to bring out the colors and make them more visible.

To get a good shot of a pictograph, start by setting your camera up on a tripod. Then, use a medium shutter speed (1/60th of a second or longer) to make sure that your image is sharp. Next, take several shots from different angles to make sure that you have captured all of the details. Finally, use photoshop or another editing program to enhance the colors if necessary.


Geoglyphs are typically easier to photograph than either petroglyphs or pictographs, as they are usually located on open plains with few obstacles in the way. The best time of day to photograph geoglyphs is early morning or late afternoon, when shadows are longest and contrast is highest. This will help bring out all of the details in your images.

To get started photographing geoglyphs, set your camera up on a tripod and frame your shot so that the geoglyphFill in explodes outward fromthe center focus point Then select an aperture around f/11 t0 ensure maximum depth o field Use ISO 100 film speed for consistent results no matter what lighting conditions you encounter finally take multiple exposures from different angles

The benefits of taking photos of rock art

There are many reasons why somebody might take a photo of a piece of rock art. It might be to document the art for future generations, to share it with friends or family, or simply to capture a moment in time. Whatever the reason, there are some things you can do to make sure you take the best photo possible.

Here are some tips:

  1. Choose the right time of day: The light changes throughout the day, so depending on the effect you want to achieve, you will need to choose the right time of day to take your photo. For example, if you want to capture the natural colors of the rock art, then mid-day sun is best. If you want to create a more atmospheric photo, then early morning or evening sun may be better.
  2. Consider the background: The background of your photo can enhance or detract from the overall effect. Make sure there are no distracting elements in the background that will take away from the beauty of the rock art.
  3. Get close: Don’t be afraid to get close to the rock art when taking your photo. This will help you fill the frame and create a more impactful image.
  4. Experiment with shutter speed: Slower shutter speeds will allow more light into your camera and can help create a sense of movement in your photo. Faster shutter speeds will freeze any movement, which can be helpful if you want to avoid blurriness. Experiment with different shutter speeds to see what effect you can achieve.

The best time to take photos of rock art

The best time to take a photo of rock art is during the golden hour, which is the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise. The sunlight during these times is softer and more warm, which makes for great photos!


We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to capture photos of rock art! By following the tips and tricks in this article, you should be able to take photos that accurately represent the art and that you’ll be proud to show off. Remember to take your time, be patient, and have fun!