Time in the field is a necessity in order to get better with your camera. The more you spend the better you will get. That is the nature of being human and the truth with all things you can get better at. However, does every photo shoot you go on need to take a lot of time? Is simply going out for say an hour, enough to make you better or just keep your skills on par with where they have always been?
I think about this often in Spring because we get great thunderstorms in the afternoons and it’s often fun to go out just for sunset to capture their beauty. Not long in the field but still time. While that simple afternoon shot often provides enough for a blog post it doesn’t do much else besides that. It is something but it doesn’t seem like much. So that’s the dilemma. How much time in the field is enough even when you come back with a result?
Never be afraid to take a landscape image when there are no clouds. Yes it can be a little less dramatic but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. I know I got the habit from my Dad to look for clouds but sometimes having just that color is all it takes. Rolling hills on a beautiful summer evening is pretty hard to pass up.
Yes this is a different post then Wednesday’s. We all have our list of shots in our heads or written down of the shots that we desperately want in our files. Whether its ones that other people have taken and we liked so much that we need them too or are something completely new that nobody has seen. Either way, we all have that list or want those shots. You could say they are “perfect” images but that’s not necessarily true. I think perfection is something else. No these are just the ones that serve a purpose and the library feels incomplete without them.
My question is, once you have one of those shots checked off of your list, what do you do then? Do you move on to the next shot on the list or do you improve upon what you already have? Do you even look at the image again or just say it’s done? I think about this often because there are places I go to shoot that I know I have gotten great results so I don’t necessarily want to go back because it might just be a waste of time since I already have that one shot. So it’s try somewhere new or don’t go out at all. I know I can’t be the only one that thinks this way. So what is the answer?
Memorial Day was this past Monday and traditionally the photograph to post is one with a flag and a gravestone. I never had one that I liked so I never posted it, until this past Monday when I finally got one. One image that I feel conveys the message I wanted to convey. But it’s only one image. That’s not enough. You can’t put out one image all the time, that’s boring. So while I am thrilled to have put a check by that image on my list, it’s not crossed off. There is always room for more.
Oh for the record, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve photographed this ranch since I got this shot.
This is a question that I think about every time I go out with the camera. It’s an important question to ask when you’re working with landscapes and dealing with a sunset or a sunrise. In those scenarios there are two things to look for, where is the light hitting and is it better then looking at the sun itself. In this example the Bridger Mountains are behind me and the light hitting the mountains wasn’t as dramatic as the sun itself going through the clouds. Looking in a 360 is a very important lesson in photography, just as knowing your surroundings is.
Photography is a great way to see how the world changes around us as time moves forward. You take a photo, wait a few years and then go back to that same spot and see the difference. I hiked up this trail many years ago just outside Bozeman and it looked the same then as it does now, just a few more buildings down below. While I went with a different camera and lens, D5 and 18-35, history repeated itself and there wasn’t much to shoot, but plenty to enjoy.
Not in Montana! This old adage is a favorite among farmers and ranchers but it certainly doesn’t seem to apply this year. With storm after storm bring record levels of water content into the mountains it’s hard to say when the snow will give way, when the temps will rise and when those posies will blossom.
These two images were taken in June a while back because like this year, those years the bloom didn’t happen until June. Now I have never been a huge macro flower person but I love landscapes that are filled with color from those flowers. Something as simple as a field of Mustard Grass can be rather amazing. Like with all my landscapes I look for clean backgrounds and clean lines. Notice there are no trails of people having walked through the flowers. Also blue sky days are great, blue sky days with puffy clouds are even better. Don’t go just for the sake of going, be picky, and find the good days. I bring this up now because with all photo subjects you need to prep ahead of time.
I have spent many years chasing sunsets partly because I’m too darn lazy to get up for sunrises. I always tell myself to but I never seem to manage it. Over the years I have managed to come up with a few good spots to go for sunset to make up for these lack of early mornings. One of the things that I have learned is that Spring sunsets can be amazing here in Bozeman.
They aren’t what you would expect. The way the weather moves through the valley often only a sliver of light is left on the mountains to the east as the clouds cover everything else in the sky. This narrow opening out west lets in just enough light to make some magic happen. It’s like that single ray of light on a dreary day to make everything better.
I had this topic come up in conversation this past week and at the end we were both having to take a look at our own photography and wondering how much it applied. So think about this for a second. The Perfect Exposure what is it, how is it captured, how will affect the final image? Exposure is how we deal with light and the absence of light in every photograph. As a photographer our job is to capture the best possible exposure in order to tell the best story. So exposure is important but can it even be perfect?
When I think of perfection what comes to mind is a perfect photograph. That long sought after image that is constantly eluding us so we chase it over and over again. But does it really even exist? If it does what do you do when you get it? Perfection is such a subjective thing that it’s a wonder we even try to make it possible. But when it comes to perfection how can you even know if there isn’t another person taking a similar photo to compare? Each photo is unique and with no way to compare then perfection will always be changing. Exposure is the same way. It’s always changing and how we capture that exposure is also changing. There is no mathematical formula that if you use in every photo you will always get perfection. Perfection isn’t the same as making things easier. Only with practice can you make things easier but never perfect. Why would you ever seek perfection I wouldn’t know but that’s for each person to decide on their own.
Steam is one of the best parts of winter landscape photography. It adds so much drama and character to the images that the landscapes can take on a whole different life form. If you don’t believe me then find a good spot in winter, take a picture and then go back in the summer and you will see the awesome difference. But how do you protect your camera gear while working in that steam?
First off this is for those that are standing in steam while also photographing it. If you’re a good distance away then your gear really isn’t in any danger. With that when you are standing next to a steam pocket remember that the external surfaces of the cameras are quite resilient. It is the internal electronics that aren’t, so don’t change lenses, or cards or batteries while standing in steam. Next carry a towel with you to gently dab off any moisture that gets on the surfaces, especially by the buttons. Lastly be careful with the front element and what I mean is that steam is hot but the air around the steam is not so if you stick that lens into the steam and it gets hot and then you quickly move somewhere else where it is cool then that difference in temperature can cause damage. Instead try covering the front element afterward and then move. Let it be a little more gradual temperature change. I highly recommend NC Filters for these kind of shoots because if you damage a filter it’s no big deal where as a front element is. Don’t be afraid of nature just be aware of what can happen and be prepared.
If there’s one movie everyone like’s to quote, it’s Forest Gump. His running scene is a favorite amongst landscape photographers because all those places are iconic areas in the United States. Of course this one spot wasn’t even in the US it was further north in the Arctic.
How you approach a scene will very much determine the outcome of your photographs. Everyone else when they saw this sunset immediately grabbed the widest lens they could and while it was worth going that route, it’s not the only route.
I grabbed the 70-300 VR for this one slice of that whole picture. An orange background and white water just popped more then anything else. Sure there’s icebergs and gulls flying around but that’s part of the story. And as Forest said, “it’s like a million little sparkles.”