One of the most fulfilling things about capturing a great landscape, that makes people stop and stare, and makes you feel a lot of mixed emotions, is that the shot indeed, wasn’t waiting to be captured.
One of the biggest mistakes done when attempting to shoot landscapes, is to take them for granted and think that a landscape is just there, waiting for a camera to portray them. In many years of shooting my beloved land, I still get surprised about how much effort and work; can be reduced into a supremely tasteful landscape shot.
For me Great Landscapes require to get involved with some aspects, and also to make some effort in others, here is my short list of important things that come into play when shooting landscapes:
The most fulfilling and regarding images I’ve ever took, required big sacrifices of sleep, but they are worth it. A photographer that doesn’t love to wake up early is definitely doing something wrong.
Clouds and Meteorology
Empty skies are not my favorite skies. And I have found that knowing about the different kind of clouds that pressure systems can create, and even get to know a little bit about weather prediction, have made my life easier in terms of “cloud subjects”.
Optics and Filters
Definitely not all landscapes need to be shot with a wide angle lens; I’ve seen some magnificent landscape shots with very tight crops due to telephoto or zoom lenses.
When working with landscapes, I advise people to get to know about hyper focal focusing to get the sharpest image possible. The beautiful thing here is that landscapes don’t require much of a big selection of lenses. The wide angle lens (I’m being subjective here I know) that works for you, is the best lens you’ll ever need.
One thing that really will make your landscapes look amazing, and broad the exposure possibilities, are filters, especially ND filters. You can find them in different grades, sizes and shapes. Basically they will allow you to shoot long exposures, without blowing the highlights, in very harsh natural light, they are just amazing.
Scouting and Patience
There are going to be moments in your photography, that you’ll not even going to take your camera out. This is what I like to call scouting. Scouting for a great location will give you a better comprehension about the photographic and weather needs you’ll be willing to have at the moment of the shot.
You can wait very long, for the best clouds to appear, you can wait very much longer, for the perfect light to show up. That’s why you have to be very patient, almost like fishing.
Almost all things in life have expectations, and landscape photography is not the exception. There is no such thing like great landscapes that happen thanks to a few minute drive, one quick shot, and then go. Of course, there can be exceptions, but great landscapes don’t take as little as 5 minutes to happen. This is about passion, and patience.
This is where the true magic happens. 50% of the shot is all the physical effort you’ve done to take the image itself. The other 50% is the effort you’ll be doing in front of the screen while developing your RAW files.
Ansel Adams was very well known for spending more time in the Dark Room, than taking pictures, and the guy took a lot of pictures.
His magnificent prints are the result of disciplined and passionate work in post-production of that time.