Friday Foto Talk: How to Shoot Landscapes   23 comments

The classic view of Vista House and the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon in the light of a passing storm.

The classic view of Vista House and the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon in the light of a passing storm.

It’s been awhile since I  participated in the WordPress weekly challenge.  This week it’s on something near and dear to my heart: Landscapes.  Check out everybody’s contributions: WPC – Landscape.  I love nearly every kind of photograph – travel, people, wildlife, macro – well, maybe not so much product photography, haha!  But landscapes are where I live.  It’s my favorite because of my background.  As a kid I remember being both inspired by and curious about landscapes.

A winter ev ening in the rain along Eagle Creek, Oregon.

A damp winter’s evening comes on along Eagle Creek, Oregon.

From the beginning I was fascinated by the world outdoors.  The fact that very small patches of ground can be viewed in very much the same way as the grandest scene, and that the closer you looked the more you saw, was an important childhood discovery.  So before I even picked up a camera, to me landscapes have come in all sizes.  As an adult I became a geologist and landscapes took on yet another layer of meaning and I got to see such an amazing variety of them.

From last week in the Palouse wheat farming region of eastern Washington.

From last week in the Palouse wheat farming region of eastern Washington.

Narada Falls, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington in sepia tone.

Narada Falls, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington in sepia tone.

Setting out to write a how-to on landscape photography in one short blog post might seem crazy.  But I feel strongly that the right approach to landscape photography (and really photography in general) is not complicated.  Everything else flows from that and can be learned on your own or in the company of others with similar levels of experience.

Recent sunset along southern California's Pacific coast.

Recent sunset along southern California’s Pacific coast.

Of course you will learn plenty in your journey as a photographer and I’m not saying that classes, books and videos aren’t useful.  But when someone asks me about the key (or secret) to composing good landscape photographs, I always give the same kind of answer, which appears here in an expanded form (it’s usually more succinct).

#1:  Hone your observational skills.  Look around, look behind you, look down, look up, focus close, medium and far away.  Stop and just look at something.  Occasionally get down on your knees or belly and look at it that way.

#2:  Shoot natural.  What does that mean?  It means not following rules of composition or trying to arrange things just so.  Instead, clear your mind of the junk and give your eye-mind connection a chance to take control.  Train your camera on what is interesting or cool in some way to you.  And shoot it in a way that looks good to you.

Examine the frame from corner to corner and also look at it as a whole.  Then readjust if necessary to include or exclude something, or to put your subject and other major elements in positions that look better to your eye.

A cascade on Left Fork of North Creek, Zion National Park, Utah.

A cascade on Left Fork of North Creek, Zion National Park, Utah.

#3:  Ignore the noise.  I don’t believe there is any value in allowing to enter your mind either other images you’ve seen or what you believe others want to see in a picture.  Those sorts of things influence you of course; you can’t help it.  But as mentioned above, the shooting process should be about what you think looks cool.

As simple as the above is, it takes time and effort to put into practice, especially to do it consistently.  It’s about developing a mindset, a zone that you go into when you pick up the camera and start shooting.  Just don’t get discouraged.  Just as you’re not in a great mood every day, you won’t be dialed in every time you shoot.  But it’s definitely a goal worth striving for every time out.

The red sands of the Namib Desert, southern Africa.

The red sands of the Namib Desert, southern Africa.

Recently while looking for a spot for sunrise in Washington state, I was surprised to come upon this lovely waterfall.

Recently while looking for a spot for sunrise in Washington state, I was surprised to come upon this lovely waterfall.

That’s it.  Well that and getting out to shoot as often as possible.  And being willing to get up early in the morning.  And staying out through dinnertime when the light is good.  Photography is just like anything in life:  the more you put into it the more you get out of it.  Have a wonderful weekend and happy shooting!

The other evening in northern Washington's Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, a mated pair of trumpeter swans drifts off into the sunset.

The other evening in northern Washington’s Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, a mated pair of trumpeter swans drifts off into the sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

23 responses to “Friday Foto Talk: How to Shoot Landscapes

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Really like your images and your rules. I have my own set of rules and will adjust them a bit after reading you fine piece. Marko’s rules
    1. Go when and where the pics are
    2. Sit quietly and take in the area before you shoot
    3. Check all of your camera settings
    4. Take lots of pics while varying your position and that of the camera
    5. Look at your pics (especially the ones that you don’ t like) and do over if necessary.

    • Thanks Marko! I didn’t want to write about rules, only variables to mix and match. But I like your process, especially the taking it all in part. It’s just how I go about it. Happy shooting!

  2. Very fine photos!
    Like you I love landscapes, I love being in nature, in the beauty and wonders there – it’s like meditation for me.

  3. It’s obvious by the photos that landscapes are near and dear to your heart. Fantastic collection.

  4. Amazing photos! kudos!

  5. Really love your advices…. You are very right!!! One needs to work on it putting his/her heart in the work, not so much the mind!
    The photographs you have chosen are great… I do love the one of the Narada Fall!!!!!
    Have a great weekend!

  6. Pingback: Landscape (Lasithi Plateau Crete) | What's (in) the picture?

  7. MJF I like same kind of photography, and your explanations sounds familiar to me, cause its exactly what I do for my own paysages. I just have to go out more often. 🙂👍🏻🎉

  8. I hoped that you would treat us to some of your magnificent photos for this challenge, Michael, and you didn’t disappoint!

  9. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge-Landscape – WoollyMuses

  10. I like every one of these photos. They are simply amazing!

  11. woah! Very cool!

  12. Great all of them of course – love the desert photo.

Please don't be shy; your words are what makes my day!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: