Since the cool temps of this past spring have finally ended, the heat of summer has brought many great days of cloud filled skies. As I have talked many times before about and will continue to talk about, puffy clouds are always a great element in landscape photography. You really just can’t go wrong with them no matter which way you compose. Minimal landmass and lots of sky is one way I learned a long time ago that works great with landscapes and puffy clouds.
Image captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Old buildings are certainly common here in Montana but every time I find one I start getting excited. They just make great photo subjects. Each one has its own character and usually has some nice space around it. Add in a little bit of interesting light and boom, there’s a photo. I took this with the D5 and 70-200VRII, didn’t need much in ACR, just brought out what was already there. The one big thing about old buildings is be sure to remove, whether during composing or in post, anything modern looking. It kind of takes the viewer away from the scene having modern stuff in the frame.
The thrill of the chase, the camera in the lap and the light on the horizon. Sometimes it can be really rewarding being a photographer. While I have never considered myself a landscape photographer, just a photographer, I do enjoy getting those images that show off the world around me. How do I go about doing that?
Really simple. I sit inside and watch the weather until I figure out what it’s going to do. A storm went through the other night and after spending quite a bit of time watching, I could see that there was an opening out to the west and clouds to the east so the sky was going to pop. After that it was just finding a good spot. I went out with the D5 and 70-200 VRII getting some close ups of the light hitting the beautiful Montana landscape. Pretty simple click with a little bit of finishing in ACR.
Scale in a photograph can be measured in multiple forms. It can add drama and sense of placement for everything in the photograph. It can also make it confusing as to whats what. In a world where everything man makes becomes bigger and bigger, it’s easy to loose sight of the fact that the world is still bigger. Using the D5 and 70-200 VRII, the landscape and houses along the Madison River compress into one view but the scale is still there.
This is a lesson I learned a long time ago from my Dad and it has to do a lot with the rule of thirds. Is it always necessary when you’re composing? Spring puffies are a great example in my mind because they fill the sky and add so much character that they could practically fill the frame by themselves. In that instance do you even need the land? Two thirds of this photo are filled with clouds which breaks the rule but it is also makes it more compelling then the alternative. Rules are important as a basic guideline when you start. Some are carved in stone due to the physics of light that they encompass. Others can be bent. It’s our job to figure out which are which.
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.