Landscape photography – how does one decide what to create?
Have you ever wondered how the mind of an artist works? Why did they decide on that subject and those colors? How about a little peek into my creative process?
My main passion is landscape photography. I spend my days observing the world around me and even when I don’t have my camera I am thinking about the image I could make. I especially love watching the sky change color on my morning bus ride. The light the earth and sun produce amazes me and observing helps me become a better photographer.
Creating an image takes a lot of time and patience. It starts with picking a location. For me, this is usually where I am traveling to. I spend sometime before I leave deciding what I want to see. I look for interesting places and I try to find someplace unique, that not a lot of people may photograph.
Once I get to my selected location, I look around a bit. I also move around looking for the best angle and if there are other people there how I can leave them out of my shot. It’s much easier to leave them out then take them out in Photoshop. I also imagine the scene if I got it from a different angle, can I stand on a rock or bench? What if I crouch down? I also take note of where the sun and shade are, where can I get the best light?
Then I take several photos.
But not too many.
I take at least 2 or 3 of each position and I try to get 2 or 3 different locations so I end up with four to nine images of each location. I like to have options. I used to take way more but I try to be as efficient as possible because going through 400 images after a trip can be time-consuming.
I used to shoot film. It’s what I learned on back in the dark ages. When I got back into photography and bought a DSLR, I went nuts. I can take as many photos as I want! I am not limited to 24 or 36! And if they don’t turn out? Who cares! But then I ended up with 100s and 1000s of images. Most of them mediocre because I wasn’t shooting as intentionally as I used to with film. My biggest piece of advice for budding photographers?
Shoot with intention. And patience.
Honestly, I pretend I am still shooting film and I put some thought behind what I capture. Landscape photography allows for you to be patient. The mountains aren’t going to run away like kids or wildlife will do. The elements are fairly stable and give you the time to really think, look, listen, and feel for your image to appear.
Once home, I move all images from my laptop to my desktop and import them into Lightroom. I have tried Bridge but I much prefer Lightroom for organizing and editing my images. I recommend it but if you find something that fits your vision better, go for it! I do a quick once through and delete any images that are just not right. Sometimes I accidentally take a photo while putting my camera away or I missed my focus on one. Not every photo is a winner!
Once I have what I feel are the best images, I look through them a few times before I start editing. I want to get a feel for the images. To me, RAW files are like a mound of clay. I get to mold and sculpt a beautiful landscape from it! I am a huge film nerd and use mostly Mastin Lab presets as a starting point. I have all of them so I select the one that looks right for the scene and start making my personal adjustments. Right now, I tend to adjust the shadows because I love bringing out the blacks.
As far as black and white images, I shoot some images with a conversion in mind. Black and white film was what I first learned on and hope to someday go to all black and white, a la Ansel Adams. So I look for some images that would make good monochromatic images. Others I see in post and I do a test as black and white. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Once I have everything edited, I go through and rank them either 1, 3 or 5 stars. 1 is images that I will use to share with my friends and family as my vacation photos. 3 stars are I might use, I might not. And 5 stars? Those are the cream of the crop. The final products and what you see in my shop!
Once they are rated, I register all the images I use for my shop with the Copyright office. Once I register I post them for you to purchase!
Some artists like to share their images with others and get opinions/constructive criticism on their images. Others like to go it alone and use their own discretion to pick and improve. It’s really a personal preference. I tend to go alone unless I need a second opinion. I have a few trusted friends and artists that I will ask versus the general public or a Facebook group. With art, it is very subjective and some people aren’t as good at constructive critiscm as they are criticism.
To find your process, find your inspiration and passion. Start shooting, editing, and trying different things. I didn’t know what I was doing when I first started but over time I have found what I love and how I love to bring images to life. It is an ever-evolving concept. Your style will change as you learn and grow.
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