There must be a million and one of these kinds of photos. A trail going through a forest makes for a simple yet perfect composition. Is it a cliche in the photo world? Yea, but if you don’t have the image in your files why not take it? There are those photos that we’ve all seen in magazines and social media and those are the ones we enjoy seeing.
The year has gone by fast yet again and already the fall storms seem to be rolling through the valley. Nights in the forties are already starting to become normal which for August is pretty abnormal. Last night we had one heck of a storm blow through, very much like the ones we would have in the spring. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near a good spot to stop for it but it reminded me of this encounter in a previous year.
Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I haven’t done much aerial photography in my life but the view from above can sure be pretty at times. From the ground, everything always seems so big and open but from above everything seems so perfectly placed. Either way, working with landscapes is the same. The way the light carries you through an image then back out is extremely important in your composition. The way the earth moves needs to correlate with the light. Flying in a Travel Air 5000 with the Nikon D5 and 24-70 AF-S, it wasn’t hard to sit back and enjoy the scenery.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Yep, that’s about the size of Bozeman right now. While we usually get a cold snap every January, this February has been just one long cold month. It’s hard to get out and do stuff in this kind of weather, for even the nicest of days are often the coldest. Thankfully there is always something to do behind the scenes when it comes to photography.
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