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Anecdotes from a landscape photographer

Anecdotes from a landscape photographer - In the third installment in our weekly series of beginners landscape articles, Martin Pettinger takes a look at how bad workmen blame their tools.

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In the third installment in our weekly series of beginners landscape articles, Martin Pettinger takes a look at how bad workmen blame their tools.

A lot of photographers yearn for a 'better' camera and 'better' lenses but ask yourself will this equipment mean you take 'better' pictures.

I am currently on my third camera, however each upgrade has been thought through carefully (or so I’d like to think) and looking back each time I’ve upgraded I’ve done it to get different pictures not better pictures. My first upgrade was because I wanted to do long exposures at dusk of the order of 30 seconds and my first camera wasn’t capable of taking such long exposures without excessive noise.

The first upgrade was from a digital compact to a digital SLR and other reasons for the upgrade included control over depth of field. I.e. I take a lot of portraits of my children but wanted to blur the background. My second upgrade was because I wanted to do large prints of my landscapes of the order of about 24” x 16” - i.e. it didn’t help me take better pictures rather it helped with the size I could upsize them to and still retain detail.

Recently a photographer told me he wished he could upgrade as his digital compact smallest aperture was f/8. He’d seen lots of landscapes taken at f/22 and felt he couldn’t produce similar work with such depth - i.e. depth of field. Imagine his surprise when I told him that he had more depth of field than most digital SLRs. I went on to explain how the sensor size in his digital compact meant that his f/8 was equivalent in 35mm terms to about f/32! I continued to say his camera was great for landscapes as you can take landscapes handheld at fast shutter speeds plus take macros handheld that are plain impossible to achieve with a Digital SLR.

Recently a local photographer Bert approached me about doing an exhibition. He complained that he could only do A4 prints as his camera "only" had 3 megapixels unlike me with my fancy digital SLR. So I took this photographer to my local exhibition and showed him several A2 prints. He really liked what he saw and was agog when I told him I had taken them with only 3 megapixels.

Subsequently I checked Bert's camera and discovered it was set to its factory default of low quality - equivalent to about 1 megapixel - hence why his 12" by 8" prints werent printing too well.

So learn your equipment and understand what it can and cannot achieve. At the end of the day photography is 90% the photographer, 5% luck and 5% equipment. Or put it another way a bad photographer blames his camera!
The Cateran Trail, taken on an Olympus C-740UZ. The exposure was 1/125sec at f/8 on ISO100. A cicular polariser was handheld attached to the camera.

Clouds and Ripples, taken on an Olympus C-740UZ. The exposure was 1/250sec at f/8 on ISO100 with no filtration.

The example at the top, 'The Cateran Trail' was taken handheld. I was only about 3 feet from the foreground boulder yet the depth in this shot is immense and it was taken at f/8. A professional who saw this photograph assumed it had been taken at f/32 or f/45. The other example above, 'Clouds and Ripples' was taken handheld - again at f/8 and here the shutter speed has been quick enough to freeze the ripples in the water as well as get front to back sharpness.

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