At some point in our photo lives, we all give landscape photography a try. And when we see the results, for the most part we are disappointed. Today's photo tip will help you move your landscape photos to a new level, and give you something you can hang on your wall with pride.
Landscape photography isn't easy! It would seem that all we have to do is find a pretty location, set up our camera and voila! We start winning contests left and right.
Not going to happen. In fact, I once read a quote from one of the greatest landscape photographers of all time - Ansel Adams - who said he felt lucky if he could get one good shot A MONTH!
By the way, the negatives of some of his best known works are almost unprintable. My personal opinion of Ansel Adams is that he was a pretty good photographer, but nothing extraordinary. His genius was in the darkroom.
Did you know that he didn't use a light to expose the negative onto the photo sensitive paper? He had some sort of convoluted setup of mirrors etc., where he funneled actual sunlight down onto his negatives. If it was nighttime or heavily overcast, he couldn't print!
Then he created an actual book of how long each individual section of the negative needed to be exposed and so forth. For example... the clouds for half a second, the trees for 3 seconds the foreground for 1 second and so on. It took a LONG time to work out how to print each negative.
After all that, he wound up throwing out as many prints as he kept. His printing standards were pretty high!
I say all of this to point out that even with digital cameras giving us immediate feedback, and Photoshop giving us a LOT of opportunities to fix mistakes, we STILL have trouble getting that "WOW" factor into our landscape photos.
Here is a way to immediately move ahead to the next level...
Perhaps more than any other style of photography, landscape photos rely on the quality of light to give us that "wow".
Look through all your photo magazines, books and courses and one common element is that almost NONE of the photos were shot around noon. Take a few minutes to check it out - it's true.
When were they shot?
Photo tip... Typically the best light you are going to get is at dawn through to about an hour past dawn - and sunset through to about an hour after the sun dips below the horizon.
You may have a terrific eye for landscape photography composition, exposure and so forth - but if you don't shoot at these optimal times, you are out of luck.
If you are a budding (or even a professional) photographer and the sun is out when you wake up in the morning, you have forever missed an opportunity. It's the same with watching the 6 o'clock news on television. If the sun goes down and you are at home...
For most of us, even if you have to be at work in the morning you will usually have enough time to get out there and practice your landscape photography - and still get to the office on time.
It's the same with kids. Leave them with the sleeping spouse, roll out of bed (while it is still dark) go to your pre-selected location, shoot from dawn to about an hour past and you can still get home before most of them even wake up!
Note: you don't need to drive to some distant mountain range. Just go to a local park, or shoot a nice looking building. You are learning to work with light. Then, when you are on vacation, you will have the skills needed to get the landscape shots you've been dreaming of.
I know this photo tip is basic, but this is just the first of a series. Keep reading the daily Photo Tips articles on landscape photography and you will be build a skill set to be envied! for more information, check out the resources box!
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Dan Eitreim has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years - his data base exceeds 6000 past clients, and he says that learning photography is easy, if you know a few tried and true strategies.
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