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Anecdotes from a landscape photographer

Anecdotes from a landscape photographer - In the second of our weekly series of beginners's landscape articles, Martin Pettinger looks at how trying a different approach can improve your images.

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In the second of our weekly series of beginners's landscape articles, Martin Pettinger looks at how trying a different approach can improve your images.

'I Yady Yag' is short for something I learnt on a business training course. 'If You do what you’ve Always Done You’ll get what you’ve Always Got!'

Often I am challenged about the colours of my landscape photographs.

Have you adjusted this in Photoshop?” asked Nell (We’ll call her Nell for the purposes of this story)

Yes and No” I reply and go on to explain how I have adjusted the shadow areas and increased contrast in the sky but done very little to the colour. I.e. the colour is as seen but the photograph was taken whilst most folk were tucked up in bed!

At a slide competition I overheard Bill and Ben ?(again fictitious names)? state “That’s been photoshopped” each time a dramatic colour landscape has been projected and yet I felt they were often wrong. At a later date I take Bill out to do some photography. It’s getting late and the sun has set.  

I’ve enjoyed this evening but it’s a bit late for me, can we go out earlier next time say round about tea-time” asks Bill.

“Sorry Bill but I don’t do tea-time - I always photograph before breakfast and after tea!"

It’s a fact that it is difficult to take great landscapes in the middle of the day. It is possible and sometimes bright light is great for black and whites, whilst in the depths of winter the sun is relatively low during the middle of the day.

The attached photographs were taken 25 minutes before sun-rise the earliest I have taken landscape photographs and it certainly isn’t what I’ve always got!

Return of the pink feet, taken with a Canon 10D with a Canon 24mm lens. The exposure was f/22 at 30sec on ISO200. A Circular polariser and a 3-stop neutral density graduated filter were attached.

322 Seconds Later, taken with a Canon D30 with a Sigma 18-50mm lens. The exposure was f/16 at 0.6sec on ISO100.
But if your looking for amazing colours and amazing atmosphere you’ll often find it at an amazingly unsocial hour. Now I have seen some of Bill’s landscapes, many taken when the sun is high and the light is flat. Flat light equals flat landscapes and if you always photograph in flat light you’ll get flat landscapes – “I Yady Yag!” Bill doesn’t like late nights or early starts and that’s fine, each to their own. But before you question the validity of a landscape please consider the following story:

One of the first photography talks I attended was by a landscape photographer and he told a story about a fabulous photograph of a stone circle he’d taken on a remote Scottish Isle and how the validity of this photograph had been challenged. “I’ve visited and photographed these stones for 25 years” said old Hank (I think you get the idea now) and I’ve never seen colour like that.

Probably because you’ve never visited the stones when I have” replied the landscape photographer.
Well you’ve been lucky” says Hank.
Have you ever visited them at 3am in July” asks the landscape photographer whereupon Hank looks dumbstruck. “Sounds like you’ve been lying in for the last 25 years” finishes the landscape photographer.

So before you think a landscape has been created in Photoshop think about when it could have been taken.
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