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05-30-2019, 12:54 PM - 2 Likes   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
...it's not the scenery that makes a shot stand out from the others, it;s the lighting/ seasonal colouring / cloud structure etc etc
This is so true...and a lesson that I had to learn the hard way. I used to LOVE the landscape photography in Arizona Highways magazine. I used to think, "If I could just go to some of those places, I could take great landscapes, too!" As luck would have it, a friend got a job in Arizona and invited some of us to come visit him. I just knew this was my big chance! I got out to Arizona, got up at dawn, packed up all my gear, and headed out to the Saguaro National Park, which was the setting for a number of the shots I'd admired in the magazine. But when I got out on location, it wasn't anything like I had expected. I said to myself, "What the heck...this is a desert!" That's when the lightbulb went off. Aha...it wasn't so much the location as it was how the photographer was showing it! I thought, "If they can make a desert look lovely, surely I can do that with the landscapes back home." After that day, I like to say I became like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she said, "The next time I go looking for my heart's desire, I won't look any farther than my own backyard." And that's what I do these days. Sandy gave you a lot of great advice. By pre-scouting an area, you're better able to take advantage of great lighting or weather conditions because you don't have to scramble around looking for something to shoot. One last thought...when it's handy, have you considered using your bike as your tripod? Maybe you could use some kind of clamp to mount your camera to the handlebars or center column of your bike, in lieu of using an actual tripod.

05-30-2019, 01:28 PM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
One last thought...when it's handy, have you considered using your bike as your tripod? Maybe you could use some kind of clamp to mount your camera to the handlebars or center column of your bike, in lieu of using an actual tripod.
Brilliant idea! I need to start thinking how to attach the tripod head to handle bar. There must be usable clamp in bike accessories that can be modified for the use.
05-30-2019, 03:06 PM - 2 Likes   #33
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Boring landscapes happen because there is no discernable point of interest to draw the eye. My opinion, and take it for what it's worth to you, is the wide angle lens is the landscape photographer's worst enemy.
We see a vista in front of us, and see all sorts of interesting stuff. We see the waving grass in the foreground, and it makes us smile, The babbling brook just past the grassy meadow burbles pleasingly, and soothes us, and the row of trees pasted in front of an azure sky brings a Thomas Kinkade serenity to the entire scene.
So we slap on the wide angle and take a picture hoping to capture that feeling.
And we find that the grass is blurry, not wavy.
We can't hear the babbling brook in our picture, and the trees in the distance lack detail, and frankly are boring under a pasty, almost blown out slightly blue sky.
So, what to do?
I say put your telephoto lens on and find some detail in the scene that speaks to you and take a picture of it. Ignore the dross that surrounds it, that stuff is doing nothing for you. It's a chimera, demons sent to ruin your photography by distracting you from what you should be looking at.

I'm a pretty hardcore landscape shooter. The vast majority of my work is done with lenses in the 50-105 mm range (I use a K1). When I was shooting 6x7, I used the 105 and 135s the most, and with large format, the 210 followed by the 150. APS-C I found myself using the 35, 43 and 77 the most.
I have pretty much every focal length from 17mm fisheye to 600mm telephoto, but fully 95% of my images are shot with the 50, 77 or 85 and 100mm lenses.

Anyway, next time you go out, leave your wide angles at home where their siren song cannot tempt you into ruination, and try shooting with longer lenses instead.

You just might improve your keeper rate. Or, you might find what works for me doesn't work for you, but you might still learn a few things.

Here's an exercise for you. We all get the occasional keeper. Even a monkey will write a sonnet if given enough time.
Take your keepers and put them in a folder as they happen, but don't look at them for a year.
They aren't going to teach you anything other than possibly a formula to take nice pictures, which will get tired pretty quickly.
Think Thomas Kinkade again.....

Take your failures and look at them with an eye to figuring out why they fail.
Some will be easy, they will be the ones that are out of focus, badly exposed, or any number of other technical reasons.
Learn what went wrong technically and stop making those technical errors.
That's the easy part, but right away your photography will improve to a certain extent.
However, a sharp image of a fuzzy concept is what we are dealing with here, which brings us to the hard part:

Look at the images that are technically acceptable but are still blah, and figure out why they are boring.
And then, stop doing that.

If you did part one correctly, you might find you can take fewer pictures, which makes culling the winners easier.

If you do part two correctly, you will start to develop your own vision, your own style, and you will become like me: an award winning photographer who had some local renown at one time who now happily shares his wisdom with anyone who will read his incoherent ramblings.

Oh yes, at the end of that year, line your keepers up in chronological order and smile, you will be a better photographer now than you were 12 months ago, and you will have a very good reason to be proud of yourself.

Last edited by Wheatfield; 05-30-2019 at 05:11 PM.
05-30-2019, 05:26 PM - 3 Likes   #34
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Yeah, I agree with Wheatfield in that wides and ultrawides have to be used real carefully in landscape photography … if you really value what's in the distance, these will push it right back and make it smaller compared to what's nearby. You can actually diminish what is beautiful.

This is at 135mm, taken by a 70-200 f2.8 zoom, handheld snapshot after walking from my car:



05-30-2019, 08:00 PM   #35
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Yeah, I agree with Wheatfield in that wides and ultrawides have to be used real carefully in landscape photography … if you really value what's in the distance, these will push it right back and make it smaller compared to what's nearby. You can actually diminish what is beautiful.

This is at 135mm, taken by a 70-200 f2.8 zoom, handheld snapshot after walking from my car:
You could have slapped a 28mm on and walked half a kilometer to that tree. You would have filled the frame, but you would have been shooting with the camera pointing up, you would have lost the foreground, which wouldn't have been that big a deal, it's pretty meh, but you would also have pushed that very nicely layered and textured background so far away that it may as well have been on another continent.
Instead, you took fewer steps, the tree is a lovely center of attention (I would have cloned out the post, but I'm not a purist, I want pretty pictures) and the background is to die for.
Nicely done and illustrates my point beautifully.
05-30-2019, 10:06 PM   #36
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Good landscape photography requires competent technique and the ability to see photographically. Great landscape photography requires seeing photographically in your own way.
05-30-2019, 10:58 PM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
You could have slapped a 28mm on and walked half a kilometer to that tree. You would have filled the frame, but you would have been shooting with the camera pointing up, you would have lost the foreground, which wouldn't have been that big a deal, it's pretty meh, but you would also have pushed that very nicely layered and textured background so far away that it may as well have been on another continent.
Instead, you took fewer steps, the tree is a lovely center of attention (I would have cloned out the post, but I'm not a purist, I want pretty pictures) and the background is to die for.
Nicely done and illustrates my point beautifully.
Yeah, for architecture it's really important to get the verticals vertical, so a tilt shift lens can be needed when wide and close. Pointing up to 'fit something in' rather than be back shooting parallel can be counterproductive.

And I'm happy to clone anything out, even replace whole skies, no one's paying me to be a photojournalist!
05-31-2019, 12:19 AM   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by civiletti Quote
Good landscape photography requires competent technique and the ability to see photographically. Great landscape photography requires seeing photographically in your own way.
I think that's my problem: I'm recording an image, rather than creating a photograph. I'm letting the environment provide the vision - rather than my using the landscape as an element in my vision. In other words, so far, I've been recording the environment, rather than creating art - which sounds a little pompous, but I can't think of any better way of putting it!



QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Boring landscapes happen because there is no discernable point of interest to draw the eye. My opinion, and take it for what it's worth to you, is the wide angle lens is the landscape photographer's worst enemy.
We see a vista in front of us, and see all sorts of interesting stuff. We see the waving grass in the foreground, and it makes us smile, The babbling brook just past the grassy meadow burbles pleasingly, and soothes us, and the row of trees pasted in front of an azure sky brings a Thomas Kinkade serenity to the entire scene.
So we slap on the wide angle and take a picture hoping to capture that feeling.
And we find that the grass is blurry, not wavy.
We can't hear the babbling brook in our picture, and the trees in the distance lack detail, and frankly are boring under a pasty, almost blown out slightly blue sky.
So, what to do?
I say put your telephoto lens on and find some detail in the scene that speaks to you and take a picture of it. Ignore the dross that surrounds it, that stuff is doing nothing for you. It's a chimera, demons sent to ruin your photography by distracting you from what you should be looking at.

I'm a pretty hardcore landscape shooter. The vast majority of my work is done with lenses in the 50-105 mm range (I use a K1). When I was shooting 6x7, I used the 105 and 135s the most, and with large format, the 210 followed by the 150. APS-C I found myself using the 35, 43 and 77 the most.
I have pretty much every focal length from 17mm fisheye to 600mm telephoto, but fully 95% of my images are shot with the 50, 77 or 85 and 100mm lenses.

Anyway, next time you go out, leave your wide angles at home where their siren song cannot tempt you into ruination, and try shooting with longer lenses instead.

You just might improve your keeper rate. Or, you might find what works for me doesn't work for you, but you might still learn a few things.

Here's an exercise for you. We all get the occasional keeper. Even a monkey will write a sonnet if given enough time.
Take your keepers and put them in a folder as they happen, but don't look at them for a year.
They aren't going to teach you anything other than possibly a formula to take nice pictures, which will get tired pretty quickly.
Think Thomas Kinkade again.....

Take your failures and look at them with an eye to figuring out why they fail.
Some will be easy, they will be the ones that are out of focus, badly exposed, or any number of other technical reasons.
Learn what went wrong technically and stop making those technical errors.
That's the easy part, but right away your photography will improve to a certain extent.
However, a sharp image of a fuzzy concept is what we are dealing with here, which brings us to the hard part:

Look at the images that are technically acceptable but are still blah, and figure out why they are boring.
And then, stop doing that.

If you did part one correctly, you might find you can take fewer pictures, which makes culling the winners easier.

If you do part two correctly, you will start to develop your own vision, your own style, and you will become like me: an award winning photographer who had some local renown at one time who now happily shares his wisdom with anyone who will read his incoherent ramblings.

Oh yes, at the end of that year, line your keepers up in chronological order and smile, you will be a better photographer now than you were 12 months ago, and you will have a very good reason to be proud of yourself.
TONS of good advise there - I'm going to save a copy of that post for future reference! I was actually reading up on that exact subject on the digitalphotographyschool website yesterday as well - I certainly understand the technicalities of it - now I just need to put it into practice!

I have a

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Yeah, I agree with Wheatfield in that wides and ultrawides have to be used real carefully in landscape photography … if you really value what's in the distance, these will push it right back and make it smaller compared to what's nearby. You can actually diminish what is beautiful.

This is at 135mm, taken by a 70-200 f2.8 zoom, handheld snapshot after walking from my car:
Gorgeous - very good supplement to what @Wheatfield was saying - to wit: "illustrates [their] point beautifully."

I'm going to analyse all the images in this post before my next landscape photography attempt - lots of things I like in them that I want to try and understand a little better!


QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
You could have slapped a 28mm on and walked half a kilometer to that tree. You would have filled the frame, but you would have been shooting with the camera pointing up, you would have lost the foreground, which wouldn't have been that big a deal, it's pretty meh, but you would also have pushed that very nicely layered and textured background so far away that it may as well have been on another continent.
Instead, you took fewer steps, the tree is a lovely center of attention (I would have cloned out the post, but I'm not a purist, I want pretty pictures) and the background is to die for.
Nicely done and illustrates my point beautifully.
I'm afraid I am a purist... I'd have gone out with a saw and removed that post.

I only do analogue post-processing.

05-31-2019, 06:55 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
I think that's my problem: I'm recording an image, rather than creating a photograph. I'm letting the environment provide the vision - rather than my using the landscape as an element in my vision. In other words, so far, I've been recording the environment, rather than creating art - which sounds a little pompous, but I can't think of any better way of putting it!
Don’t try to record the entire environment, just the important stuff in it. Using Clacker’s image as an example, shooting from the same position with a wider lens would have diminished the importance of the tree in the image, even though the perspective would have been identical, and the layered background would have been pushed into a blurry mess.
By using a longer lens he has given us a point of interest in the tree. By staying back and using a longer lens, he has maintained the relationship between the point of interest and the background, but has limited the amount of it to keep things interesting.
He didn’t try to capture the entire environment, he pared it down to what was interesting.
This is what I was alluding to in my previous post. Look at your failures, they will teach you how to succeed. Look at why they fail. Invariably, you will find that they fail because there is more boring junk in them than interesting stuff. The boring stuff that adds nothing to the image overwhelms whatever point of interest might be in the image.
In Clacker’s image, the foreground is pretty boring, but there isn’t much of it and the eye finds the tree and the background pretty quickly. The grass isn’t adding much visual interest but it is a solid foundation for the rest of the image, the image has a definite point of interest, and the background is well textured. He also waited until had good light. He has chosen a time of day when the light was particularly friendly with the scene, and that is why that image works as well as it does.
05-31-2019, 05:18 PM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
I think that's my problem: I'm recording an image, rather than creating a photograph
QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
I'm afraid I am a purist... I'd have gone out with a saw and removed that post.

I only do analogue post-processing.
if you want to progress from recording an image to creating a photograph, use the tools at your disposal. I don't mean carry a saw , I mean learn to use photo editing software.

As someone else on this forum recently commented : "I am not a Xerox copier I am a photographer" (or something along those lines). If you want accuracy use Google street view.
05-31-2019, 06:51 PM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
I think that's my problem: I'm recording an image, rather than creating a photograph. I'm letting the environment provide the vision - rather than my using the landscape as an element in my vision. In other words, so far, I've been recording the environment, rather than creating art - which sounds a little pompous, but I can't think of any better way of putting it!
I was quite disappointed with my landscape work for a few years. The process takes time with mere humans. It's helpful to shoot when the sun is low, as that increases modeling and atmospherics.
06-01-2019, 04:54 AM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
We see a vista in front of us, and see all sorts of interesting stuff.
50mm on FF is the only FL that produce a photograph as you see it. Wide angle is the most difficult to shoot with unless you walk while keeping an eye in the viewfinder but that can cause safety issues.
06-02-2019, 10:31 AM - 1 Like   #43
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cprobertson1,
A ton of great insight already. Here are a few things.

You will eventually develop your own style. Don't feel yours have to look like others. But they can't be gargoyles either. I use 18mm to 300mm for landscapes depending on what relationship I am after. Understand that longer focal lengths compress the relative depth and make flatter looking images. That stream and mountain are not a mile from each other, more like 5 miles.

Photographers Ephemeris. On bad weather days and after dark you can scout, think, plan for a spot to shoot.

All kinds of rules. Break a few.

Look at diagonals for leading edges to perceive depth or lead the eye.

Read about Depth of Field and Hyperfocus. A long time ago I heard a ditty that went .."f8 is great, and f5.6 & f11 maybe heaven, but f16 can be keen".

Under exposed can be recovered in PP, but blow outs from overexposure are usually lost.

Polarising filters and neutral density filters. Read up.

As has been said many times...LIGHT. Work the edges of the light to get shadows, angles, depth, etc. Use it to make a somewhat boring feature pop out and save the shot. Some shots are bland at any time.

Go back to your field in the morning or evening, work to get an angle on those trees, use a polarizing filter to pop the sky, maybe lay on your belly to get a different perspective, and remember to feel what you see, then shoot it.

Keep looking, shooting, evaluating, reading, and develop a style that is yours.

JB
06-02-2019, 01:35 PM - 2 Likes   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
TL;DR -- I would like to try my hand at some landscape photography. I have tried in the past, but let's face it, I'm not good at it. I'm barely mediocre, and I'd like to improve!




The problem is that my images just aren't interesting - sure, I can go for a walk and say "hey, that looks nice!" and grab a shot of it - but it later on when I come to look at it, it just lacks something. Even when I settle down around a specific location and try to capture something, unless there is something really obvious, chances are my scene will lack an interesting focal point.



Any tips would be appreciated!
I read this post when it originally appeared on the forum. I didn't have time to respond then but I can see that you have gotten some great advise from forum members, Wheatfields, Clackers, Pschlute and others.

I understand where you are coming from. Landscape photography always seems as though it should be easy and natural.... find a area of natural interest...point a camera, click, review and.... voila! No, it clearly is not easy for so many of the reasons offered by those that answered your thread before me.

After graduate school, I left my field and went back for a degree in photography and have worked as a photographer for 40 years. Even with studies and a head full of photography knowledge I have struggled and still struggle to make decent landscapes. Techniques have to be learned and practiced in the field, and as Dartmoor Dave stated... plenty of self (constructive) criticism.

My interest in landscapes started a few years back when I knew I would be retiring and looking for something to keep myself occupied. My skill set involved scientific and industrial photography which don't really translate to landscape work. I had excellent kit, but much of todays landscape imaging requires post production skills that eluded me (beyond the basics of PS, because life gets in the way) and still does. I think that it is fair to say that that skill set (PP) is necessary in addition to just going out there and shooting even as your camera skills evolve.

The most interesting thing that I have read on this thread, Is one that I agree with. Don't get fooled into thinking that wide angle lenses make for great landscapes. They have there place, but I don't often use them except if I know I am going to be in tight conditions... ravines, slot canyons, deep woods etc. Usually I just take a 31mm, 43mm (on cropped frame camera) or greater focal length and shoot multiple images and stitch them to get the perspective that an ultrawide will not provide. Clacker's image of the tree was an excellent example that used focal length perspective to separate the tree from the background.

Now back to your quote at the top that I made bold. I was out hiking with my wife two days ago. I was trying my DFA 28-45 outdoors for the first time (I knew I would be in a ravine) and when I was setting up and using the iphone as a light meter, I recalled your above statements from the initial thread and did a snapshot of the scene I was composing. I uploaded the iPhone image here and the actual image I took on the Z. The point here is that the iPhone snapshot doesn't convey the feeling or mood that I was experiencing creekside.I would have been disappointed if I looked at it at home and it was the only image I had. So, don't use your camera for snapshots unless that is what you specifically want. Take your time, learn to see and compose what you want as a final outcome. I am not a landscape photographer by any means but my rendition is closer to the mood and the ambience I felt in the glen.











There are no really easy ways to get great landscape images. The more you delve into it the more layers of the “onion” you will keep revealing. So many factors determine the satisfactory outcome of an image. These include weather, lighting, time of year, choice of gear, location demands, camera skill sets, photography knowledge skill sets, and post production and copious quantities of patience . Each of these factors could be subdivided ad infinitum. So just enjoy the process and the knowledge gained.

So, with the wealth of advice that the forum members have given, just get out there and keep composing and shooting. It is a lengthy journey and it begins with the first step.

Last edited by SCGushue; 06-03-2019 at 07:15 AM. Reason: Typo
06-13-2019, 03:03 AM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCGushue Quote
So, with the wealth of advice that the forum members have given, just get out there and keep composing and shooting. It is a lengthy journey and it begins with the first step.
Sounds like a plan!

Thanks for all the tips, folks! I'll hopefully start posting up images soon. I'm just back from holiday though, so I have some to process from that as well (though I didn't get as many chances as I thought I might!).

There is literally tonnes of advice on this thread, I'm going to distill it down soon into a number of bulletpoints and post it back up here too
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