Latest posts by Mark Jansen (see all)
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Preparation, observation, persistence and patience and getting beyond the program modes are the key factors for getting your landscape photography on track! These are the 5 secrets for successful landscape photography.
Getting great photos these days seems as simple as the point and click of your smartphone, but not if you want to create successful landscape photography.
From the latest Digital SLR’s and Mirrorless cameras, everyone is shooting and posting photographs everywhere. Photography is no longer left to the professionals. Great looking imagery is just a pre-programmed green button away, or so it would seem. So many people turn to photography for one plain fact. The digital process has made it a very enjoyable and creative experience with instant results. No paper canvas or paints involved and you don’t need to even draw a straight line. With all this new found creativity, once people step beyond the simple interface of Smart Phones and move into more substantial real cameras, there seems to be lack of knowledge of the real photographic process.
Sooner or later, some come to a standstill when there is a photographic subject that those green program buttons don’t quite cover. This could be a backlit subject or they come across a depth of field focal situation that’s not working in their favor. There are an array of situations where they aren’t able to find creative solutions. The fact is, the green program buttons can only take you so far.
They soon begin to obsess on those odd array of buttons, dials, or switches (beyond the programmed green modes) with small animated illustrations on them.
I’ve been teaching photography privately for years. It’s quite common for me to offer my instructional services to working professional photographers. Many times, they have little, or no knowledge of the photographic process. The great thing about photography is that it can take you down so many different roads including sports, portraits, model and wedding photography just to name a few. But you can get into creative trouble if you don’t know the basics.
If landscape photography is something you’re passionate about pursuing, this is a subject I know well. As many of my early experiences in life have been through nature, photographing natural landscapes were a perfect fit for me. Seeing compositions in nature came simply for me. Learning the technical aspects of photography to archive solid imagery has taken years and is a continuing learning experience.
I’m asked frequently, “what’s the best way to get started in landscape photography?”.
I always suggest first spending time exploring the works of others. Coffee table books and visits to museums and art shows are a great way to begin your journey if you’re not quite sure where to start. Study their compositions carefully. Notice where the light is falling and notice how the photographer leads your eye into their compositions.
The landscape photography road has been traveled by many. This will help you greatly in learning how to see the natural landscapes around us through their eyes and may influence your own work as well.
I grew up exploring Yosemite Valley and the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, from fly fishing in my younger years to backpacking into its high peaks later on. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the photographic works of Galen Rowell and Ansel Adams. Much of my early landscape photography echoes influences of both.
Knowing how to prepare is the first step. It’s easy to want all of the “gotta have” latest technology before you take the first step. Camera options are limitless and most digital camera equipment available these last few years will do the trick in competent hands. Learn the basics of camera form and function first. As I mentioned earlier, many newcomers tend to put the cart before the horse because the programmed green modes work so well. Many don’t feel they need to know more until they have a desire to take their photography to the next creative level.
I strongly suggest a private mentor or someone you feel comfortable with so you can create successful landscape photography.
Being with someone with years of photographic experience will get you going in the right direction, without outside noise and distractions. This will help you focus on your specific needs. Listen to everything they suggest and take notes. They’ve been around the block and know what works and what doesn’t.
Landscape photography is unique and stands out from other forms of photography for this simple fact: we have zero control over our natural environment.
In studio atmospheres, we can control everything in a sealed environment. Landscape photographers must adapt to Mother Nature’s whims and follies and learn to adapt to them quickly. This takes years of experience in the outdoors where observation is key. First, you want to seek compelling compositions and wait for opportunities of sweet light to hopefully present itself. Weather and time of day are great primary foundations. Early morning and late afternoon light are always the best times. Exploring the beginning and end of stormy weather patterns have the highest probabilities for great capture as a rule. Many run indoors when things get stormy. This is the time to be out shooting. Experienced landscape photographers understand this and reap the rewards on these occasions.
We live in a world of instant gratification. The landscape photography world contains people of great patience. The process of waiting patiently for the magic light to hopefully happen goes with the territory.
True landscape photographers understand this and come back each time to the same locations over and over again for many years. They hope to capture the once in a lifetime photograph. With preparation, observation, persistence, and patients come to the great reward, successful landscape photography.
Photograph in the right place, at the right time, in the best light when you join us for one of our private or group landscape photography workshops with Jansen Photo Expeditions.
We specialize in workshops in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West.
All the best,