I’ve wondered for a long time what it means to be an ethical landscape photographer. Sure, this field isn’t known for its wide-reaching moral dilemmas or particularly sticky situations, but the question still deserves attention. As landscape photographers, we are in a rare position to show the Earth’s most amazing places to an audience of countless people. It makes sense to me that we should do so with respect. One of the most important rules? Don’t cause harm — not in the field, and, perhaps, not even in post-production.
It might seem like one of the simplest parts of photography: leveling your horizon. Most photographers want their horizons to be straight, of course, but this isn’t an area of photography that gets too much attention. And why would it? Leveling the horizon is a very easy task — right? In practice, though, it requires more care than many people think. You can’t just rely on your camera’s “virtual horizon,” or your post-processing software’s “auto straighten” tool. Our perception of a level horizon is more complicated than that.
I more than often hear landscape photographers complaining about “bad” weather and then say it’s chugging down. Honestly, I don’t know what they’re talking about. I thrive in stormy weather. Rain, strong winds, and what can sometimes be a bit of a problem, low hanging clouds – yes it’s next to nearly impossible to keep your camera dry, it’s next to nearly impossible to keep the lens clean and it requires extra energy to keep up the spirit – but “bad” weather is not bad weather, it’s amazing. For two reasons: One, you can photograph during daytime instead of hitting odd hours during sunset or sunrise. Two: And most importantly, it can create some amazing dramatic photos with a lot of atmosphere.
Luminosity masks are one of my favourite things about editing images in Photoshop. They offer so much more power than you can get in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. Creating them, though, can often be a long winded affair. And a given set of actions to create them may not always work so well on any given image.
In this video, Photoshop wizard, Unmesh Dinda shows us a way to create luminosity masks very quickly and easily. It’s a method that also offers a lot more control over the “old way” of doing things, too. Unmesh does walk us through the old way, too, because it’s always good to know multiple methods. But it just goes to show how quickly the other process works.
For many of us in the northern hemisphere, we’re getting to that time of year when the weather isn’t so great. Sure, autumn (or “fall”, if you prefer) is here now, the leaves are changing colour, and we’re getting a great array of colour. But, we’re also getting the occasional day of rain. Or far more than just the occasional day if, like me, you’re in the UK.
Landscape photographer Simon Baxter uses days like these for location scouting. In this video, he explains how he finds new locations to explore, and the things he’s thinking about while surveying the scene. Simon also explains why does this during those bad weather days.
Like every other genre, landscape photography has plenty of challenges. In this video, photographer Toma Bonciu shares three challenges specific for landscape photography – yet we may not think about them. While we worry about the gear, places to visit and the techniques we’ll use, there are a few other very important things to think about. Toma points out to them, and these are definitely the challenges you need to overcome if we want to devote yourself to landscape photography.
Landscape photography means different things to different people. For some it’s about recording a memory of where they’ve been. For others it’s about discovery, and documenting the places they find. And then there’s those that turn up at the same location at 4am every morning for six months waiting for that perfect sunrise.
Whatever extremes to which you ultimately wish to take your landscape photography, we all start at the beginning. And in this extensive video, YouTuber Josh Katz offers a complete introduction to landscape photography for beginners. Everything from location scouting to settings guidelines to post processing tips.
When I took on photography, there were a lot of filters to consider. ND, Haze, warming, cooling, grad-ND, polarizers. Heck, I had so many filters that sometimes they needed a little bag of their own inside my photography bag. Today though, most of the filters can be mimicked with photoshop.
Landscape photographer Mark Denney makes an interesting point, he shows three of the more common filters, ND, Grad-ND and a circular polarizer and while two of those filters can be replaced with photoshop-work. Mark asks a simple question, would you rather be spending your time editing in front on a computer, or hiking and shooting behind a camera.
Has it happened to you that you come to a beautiful location just to see there are plenty of tourists/other photographers blocking your view? I’m sure it has. Travel photographer Brendan van Son faced this problem at Moraine Lake, and it left him with a question: “Are photographers ruining photography for photographers?”
Focus stacking is a popular technique for macro photographers. But did it ever occur to you to try it with landscapes? No? Nor me. But it makes a lot of sense, depending on the look you’re after. Although landscapes are often shot with ultra wide angle lenses, they can also be made at much longer focal lengths. I like to do this myself with a 70-200 f/2.8, but that means you start to see the effects of depth of field.
This video from photographer Mark Denney shows us how to use focus stacking techniques to get infinite depth of field for landscapes with any lens. Mark also goes over some shooting tips to help you get the best source material to work with, regardless of whether you use manual or auto focus.