Landscape Basics

When we hear landscapes our mind instantly goes to this scenario. A distance place that takes much trial and tribulation to get to and once we are there we are thunderstruck by the immense beauty that you couldn’t see during your day to day life. Of course the first night you’re there what else do you see but a spectacular sunset or sunrise that just takes your breath away. Ah, the majesty of mother earth.

Well, that’s all well and good and yea sunsets and sunrises are beautiful but they hardly are what landscapes are all about. They are a part of the equation don’t get me wrong but there are so many other little facets to the world we live in that are really important but are really easy to overlook. For instance, not everyone gets to live in this environment, a lot of people live in the city. Those people have to travel somewhere else and hope they get this sunset. The thing is that landscapes can be acquired in a city just like in the natural world because a city possesses its own urban landscape which is just as important to capture.

Landscapes are tricky because they always seem so easy but then you try and what you capture isn’t what you saw or what you felt. I’ve gone through this a lot and I know it can be frustrating. The thing is, Landscapes, no matter where you are, are about not just what’s in front of you but also what you are thinking and feeling when you take that photograph. You then have to take those thoughts and feelings and bring them out on the computer. Unlike Wildlife Photography where I don’t do any post-processing, landscapes get quite a bit. I want the viewer’s eye when they see that landscape to get transported right there and stay there. Each image is a destination that I want each person to go to. That’s the goal is to make sure the viewer wants to be there.

Whether it’s the halls of an English cathedral or a lonely mountain that no one but the locals knows about, each place is a destination that most people will never get to see. That’s why we have to bring these places to life. But how do you do that? Well first off let me just say that I tend not to go by the old edict of always using a wide lens. A wide lens is great for many things mainly for having more information in the image. Now depending on the elements having more foreground, like dirt, or sky, which can be bald, may not really be a good thing to have in the photograph. You have to be very specific when it comes to landscapes and determining what elements to include and which elements to leave out. For this reason, I tend to shoot a lot with a 70-200. It’s a great all-purpose lens that lets me control how much information gets captured. I also use a 24-70 a lot but then again it depends on those pesky foregrounds and backgrounds. I also have the 18-35 just in case the skies are breathtaking. Both of these images are with a wider lens but it’s important to think about the elements, especially one very important element. Light.

How do we use light to shape the land? Sometimes mother nature does that for us and we simply have to be watching. Then there are other times where we are given the blueprint but we have to put it all together. This is where the computer becomes important. I use Adobe Camera Raw for the majority of my post-processing because I’m working with raw files, which have the most amount of information and because of the flexibility with my workflow. Now if you use Lightroom the same tools are there but they are set up differently. Since I don’t use Lightroom I can’t help much with that but stay tuned for more on ACR. Back to Light. Light creates shadows. Those same shadows play an intricate role in shaping the landscape. By playing on the drama of those two elements we can tell a very powerful story of the world around us.

Like all fields of photography, there are a million opinions as far as what gear you need, what technique, where to go, and what not to do. It’s up to you to decide what to listen to. What’s important to remember is whether the image moves you. That’s why we capture images, to begin with, is to tell the story, and to be inspired. Anyone can take out their phone and capture an image of the world they reside in. Our goal is to elevate our own photography above what everyone else does. You do that by emphasizing the light.


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