I’m no Landscape Photographer

I do not particularly class myself as a landscape photographer, but wanting to try my hand at different photography genre’s I have been playing around with landscape images more recently. An inspiration for these trials comes from a good photography friend of mine Martin; in fact Martin was a big influence when I first became more serious about photography giving me tips and pointing me in certain directions if I found myself stuck. Some of his images are quite stunning including subtle colour with an almost surreal quality, captured during the time of day when light is at a premium. Martin’s images can be found here on his Flickr page.

There are a few things I have learnt from studying landscape images;

  • Even though a landscape can be a spectacular view, to highlight this it is always good to establish a point of interest in the foreground of an intended image, as this will draw the viewer up and through the frame.
  • Interesting skies be they with clouds, sunbursts or variations of colour help to fill an otherwise dead space within the frame.
  • Using filters be they graduated or ND can help smooth water and bring motion into either sky or sea/lake/stream.
  • Landscape images can work in either colour or monochrome, but the subject and shooting conditions need to be right before conversion is considered.

To put some of these learning’s in practice, last month on a particularly stormy day I headed to the beach to see what I could find; during this shoot I did use a graduated ND filter but this was to help with exposure issues between sea and sky rather than to capture fluid movement within the frame.

The first few images I took were not so great, although these were taken more to get a feel for my location and the conditions.

As I moved around the beach my images definitely improved, especially as I found some interesting rock formations to include in my foreground.

It is unfortunate that my location was not a beautiful Caribbean beach with pristine white sands and deep blue skies with fluffy white clouds; my location on this winters day was a little less loved than I was hoping for although it did help to kick-start my thinking surrounding landscape photography and more specifically about photography at the beach.

A day at the beachFrom my mornings shoot, I think this is my favourite image; why do I like it, I think that the composition works well. From the shot we are able to determine that a beach is the location and the placements of rock formations helps to break up an otherwise uninteresting foreground. The position of the island helps give an aesthetically pleasing feel to the image and there is enough detail in the sky to balance the frame. I have tweaked the colours in the image as they appeared a little dull on screen and playing around with the contrast and highlights has given the sky a more moody feel, which I like.

What would I do differently? Even though it was a bright day the frame is a little lifeless and a bit of sun would have given more contrast in the shot. Using a long exposure (this image was captured at f7.1 with a shutter speed of 1/250) would have made the image completely different, as more fluidity would have been captured creating a more gentle atmosphere.

As this was my first real try at this kind of photography I am pleased with the result, but I definitely feel more experimentation is needed. Over the summer it is my intention to play some more with filters and really get to grips with my Lee filters system .. watch this space.

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