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How To Create Panoramic Memories Like Lois Conner

Find out more about capturing amazing landscape and panoramic photos in this quick tutorial.

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Whenever you see a platinotype landscape picture with intense tonal ranges, you instantly think of Lois Conner.

The landscape photography mogul is a self-proclaimed obsessive observer of landscapes and has etched her own identity over the course of her photographic career. So much so that a certain type of landscape photo intuitively connects the two.

Her work that – besides primarily being of platinum print – has another quality to it; that of a panoramic ratio. She’s known to favor banquet (ultra large format wooden bellows) cameras and produce pictures in the 7 X 17 inches format.

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Image by Lois Conner 

And her techniques work beautifully well. Whether it’s her observation, her perception or the translation of a certain landscape, she somehow weaves magic into her images with every click.

If you’d like to emulate her style, there are certain general landscape photography tips and some specific ones, too, to keep in mind.

Here, we take a look at how to create and edit your landscape pictures to take them to the league of the big boys (or in Lois’s case, big girls).

 

Gear up with the right kit

This is number one on your list. In fact, the type of camera you choose determines the level of photography prowess you can achieve.

Whether it’s landscape, street or any branch of photography unless you invest in a good camera with all the correct accessories, your work might not stand out.

A good camera is one investment worth its weight in gold.

Nikon camera

For superior landscape photography, not just the type of camera but what quality and type of lens you choose, matters. For example, the Canon EOS 5DS R is a good pick and a good upgrade on both Canon 5D MarkIII and Nikon D810

And pay close attention to the lenses too. Do you want wide-angle shots with fisheye lenses - the kind that would get you Lois Conner-esque shots? Or do you want to go for images replicating the human eye perspective, for which a 50 mm lens would suffice?

Also, it’s always recommended to have a tripod around. Unlike street photography, landscape photography is planned, you do have an idea of the type of picture you want to take and although a tripod could be heavy to lug around, the crisp clear pictures you'll achieve make up for it.

 

Study the techniques

Whether you admire the works of Ansel Adams (you definitely should if you’re a landscape photography enthusiast) or that of Sandra Senn, you have to learn the basic techniques.

It’s true when some people say photography is a gut instinct; you just know a photo to be the one when you take it. But it’s also true that skills and techniques back up the best images.

So take some time to understand how your camera settings work for landscape photography, what time of the day is best for a certain type of image, and how to get landscape post-processing right. 

Ansel Adams

Image by Ansel Adams

Photo editing is the other 50% of a great shot. Some people might say a good photo doesn’t require any Photoshop editing. If that were true, would Ansel Adams spend hours in the darkroom?

The number one reason why post-click editing is required is because even the best camera fails to capture the diverse range of colours and light that a human eye can see.

Plus factor in the flaws that sometimes a photo has, the only way to rectify that is through editing. If you’re just starting off, here’s a comprehensive guide on the basics and more advanced landscape techniques, definitely a must-read for anyone serious about landscape photography. 

 

Introduce a focal point

Though all photos need a focal point, a landscape photograph without a specific one can end up looking bland and rather empty. Focal points give the reader a place to concentrate on, it could be anything form a contrast to something that lends support to the picture.

But, that’s not always true. And a caveat – a rather popular one – is the Rhein II, Andreas Gursky’s landscape photo of sludgy grass broken by strips of river. But technically speaking, the focal point could be that wide river bed in between or it could be the sky too.

Andreas Gursky

Image by Andreas Gursky

Creating a sense of depth is of paramount importance in landscape photography when you don’t have one particular subject for the audience to focus on. One way to do that is to focus on the foreground.

 

Make weather your friend

One thing that drastically alters the appearance of a landscape is weather, besides natural lighting of course. Have you ever noticed how a patch of land, the river, the sky changes during summer, winter or monsoon? How trees change colours and the grass transcends through several shades of green and ochre?

Sean Ramsey

Image courtesy Sean Ramsey

The weather can change the same landscape to something remarkably different, and you should take advantage of it. Depending on your vision for a certain image, you can use the weather to make it come out how you envisioned.

In fact, most photographers make the mistake of thinking it’s only worth photographing a bright sunny day. A lot of photographers create sheer magic by working with cloudy or even stormy weather. Like some of the great pictures that you would find in this e-book.  

 

Master Lightroom

So we already established that both lighting and weather can change the face of your landscape images. But even then your photo might not come out how you want it to.

Photowoah

Image courtesy of https://www.slrlounge.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/hdr-landscape-before-after-small.jpg

So you start the post-processing phase. Some of the key elements of this phase are fixing distortion, adjusting white balance, clarity, increasing sharpness, including Actions, and removing sensor dust. You can learn about these individually or get all the detail about everything Lightroom related in this amazing video tutorial.

 

Learn to create dreamscapes

Dreamscapes are landscape images that have a divine dream-like touch to them. These are not difficult to create but to reach that point where it takes the viewers breath away, you have to put in a lot of work.

dreamscape From painting the sky as something straight out of Narnia to manipulating lighting, dreamscapes are complex. 

Like Bridget Riley said:

“For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces.”
 

While it’s primarily about the visual flow and how you factor in lighting in your favor, get all the details and insights on this here.

Landscape photography does take time to master and if you are serious about this Lois Conner and almost every other popular photographer out there would advise to keep learning and to keep experimenting.

Remember, it’s a life-long learning process. The more technical and practical knowledge you have, the better your pictures will be.

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Comments


Niknut Plus
12 3.3k 82 United Kingdom
11 Apr 2016 8:46PM
Quote"Gear up with the right kit

This is number one on your list. In fact, the type of camera you choose determines the level of photography prowess you can achieve.

Whether itís landscape, street or any branch of photography unless you invest in a good camera with all the correct accessories, your work might not stand out.
A good camera is one investment worth its weight in gold. Quote.

GrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrin !!!!!!!!

RobboB Plus
15 133 1 United Kingdom
25 Apr 2016 9:51AM
Would have liked to have learned more about panoramas Sad
4 May 2016 7:38PM
Oh dear......

I have a few issues with this article, but the main one without a doubt goes to....

Quote' Gear up with the right kit

This is number one on your list. In fact, the type of camera you choose determines the level of photography prowess you can achieve.' End Quote

You can't tell people that- because its rubbish and lies!! The smallest DSLR with the most basic kit lens can achieve amazing results! Don' put people off by telling them they cant do it if they haven't got the most expensive kit on the market!

To get great landscape panoramic images, use whatever camera you have!! Always use a tripod, even a cheap one will help, it will help slow you down and allow you to think about your composition and settings. Your lens doesn't have to be wide angle! Put your camera in portrait on you tripod, (gives you more pixes in the height of your pano) level it up, and then shoot a sequence of shots, turning the camera a few degrees each time, making sure your images overlap by about 2/3rds of the image. In lightroom or Adobe raw, you can create a panoramic by merging the images, and it does a really great job as long as you don't have an image with lots of crossing branches (think mangrove forest and you have its worst nightmare) and be sure to shoot raw, shoot in manual (always for landscapes if you can!) and make sure your exposure for each shot is the same!!!!

Its a more in depth process than this comment for sure, but these are some of the things I do every time I want to shoot a landscape pano, regardless of the camera I have on me at the time. I can make a very printable image 4 feet high and 20 feet across on my Epson large format printer with a Canon Eos 100D, so if you haven't got a big full frame pro camera, don't fret-shoot with what you have and enjoy it!!

Epicuros 14 11 Greece
5 May 2016 6:44AM
I use a Manfrotto panoramic head mounted on a tripod, for better aacuracy, but I have shot panoramas while hand holding and turning the camera. Here is one pano I made this way. Of coourse I use stitching software (Panorama factory). I prefer to shoot Raw but this is irrelevant if no major processing is requiired. One other point: By using 50mm lens (or equivelent in smaller sensor camera) thus avoiding distrotions usually associated with wide angle lenses. Manual exposure is also necessary. I shot the attached photo with a hand held Panasonic Lumix FZ 28 camera
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