Light and Shadows make for Good Landscapes

Heavy darks and blacks have always fascinated me with landscapes. In most photographs, there is a balance between the two creating contrast but sometimes there is an overwhelming amount of one or the other which can make for some interesting photos. High mountain lakes often offer these types of occasions because of the way the light either comes up or down behind the mountains. The result is a spotlight in one area or another. Using a longer lens like the 70-200 VRII along with the D5, I was able to isolate this section of pine trees. In post, I used a couple of split graduated filters, along with the shadow slider in ACR to enhance that dark shadow background. Simple tricks for some good results.

 

Long Lens Landscapes

A long lens can be a very useful tool when it comes to landscapes. You can use a long lens to isolate key areas where the light is creating the most drama and keep unwanted or undesirable elements out of your photographs. For instance, the foreground in this image was very bright and didn’t add to the story. By using the D5 and 70-200 VRII, I was able to keep that element along with narrowing the background, so that the light and shadows become more visually powerful. Wide angles work well in a lot of landscapes but don’t be afraid to go tight and pull out small chunks from the overall scene.

A Little Black and White Action

It’s been a while since I’ve done any black and white shooting but on this occasion it just made sense. This Cottonwood tree was the only thing blocking out the sun which normally shooting into the sun doesn’t do much for backgrounds but in a black and white it makes for a clean background. The rest of this was just a little finishing in Adobe Camera Raw.

Images captured with Nikon D5, 85 f/1.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Always Find the Silver Lining

Storms are fun to chase because you never quite know what you’ll find at the end of them. A lot of time you end up with a whole lot of nothing but you had a fun drive. Then again you find those rare moments where the skies open up and let down something amazing. This was a quick click with the D750, 18-35 f3.5 on Lexar UDMA Digital Film on a recent trip through western Montana. One of the great things about the transition from Spring into Summer are all the chances at these storms.

 

Not Quite There Yet

It’s soooo close but we just aren’t quite into that spring landscape phase yet. I really look forward to this time of year because we are starting to get warm days which result in dramatic skies while still having snow on the mountain tops. It can lead to some beautiful afternoon landscape photo sessions. Most commonly these occur in April and even May depending on the snowpack and temps. Right now is a good time to be scouting those locales so you know where to go come this spring. This was up in the Crazy Mountains several years ago and I can’t wait to go back this year.

 

Lots of Snow to Play With

Some people see lots of snow as a burden or a pain in the butt, but to us photographers who enjoy winter landscapes, there is nothing better than a fresh blanket of powder. The challenge with landscapes is always trying to come up with something new and different, especially if you frequent the same spot over and over again. Well snow makes an instant change to any landscape that can yield some amazing results. One of my favorite ways to utilize these great waves of snow is to not only convert to black and white but to find a single black point to focus on.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 200-400 VR, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Natural Spotlight

Nature does some pretty amazing things when we just stop and look to see whats going on. I always bring my camera with me when I go out fishing because I never know what will pop up. This particular evening nature brought out one of the best things for landscape photography, a spotlight. Spotlights and vignettes are great resources for landscapes because they focus the viewers eyes on what you want them to see and they ignore the rest. While often I use ACR to enhance such light, sometimes in nature it’s just there and you don’t have to do anything more then just point and click.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Having Fun in the Crazies

There is always something amazing about skies that are so powerful that they make the earth seem small. The Crazy Mountains are not as famous as the Bridgers or Gallatin Mountains but are still plenty impressive. I always loved days like this where you can capture the mountains that are so far away but still seem so clear. This was taken with the D5 and 24-70 AF-S and then finished in Adobe Camera Raw. What really makes the drama pop in something like this is focusing on the mountains and with a more shallow depth of field making everything feel smaller and further away. Then with the help of Dehaze the contrast just pops out.

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