What are the things that hinder you from being a better landscape photographer?
Landscape photography requires so much more than just reading a book or attending a workshop. In fact, the most important and crucial lessons in landscape photography are mostly learned out in the field. Here are some common mindsets that we should all throw out the window to keep learning and enjoying the craft.
Landscape Photography Requires Spectacular Weather Conditions
Probably because as beginners, we would find and get inspiration from very iconic landscape photographs and the works of the most notable in the craft, that some landscape photographers have the notion that everything they shoot should have a fiery sunset or a brilliant night sky in the back. While there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to capture those spectacular phenomena, stumbling upon fair or even bad weather should not stop you from going out for a shoot. One reason for this is simply because you never really know what picturesque things can happen in-between even if just for a few minutes. One can think of it as part of the thrill of a landscape photographer. Every shoot is a gamble. Sometimes you capture something that you thought you would only see in your wildest dreams, sometimes you have to deal with dark and gloomy skies, but most of the time, the conditions in between can also give you good photographs to take home.
Landscape Photography Requires Iconic Locations
In relation to the point mentioned above, it can also be quite a hindrance if a photographer only chooses to shoot the picture-perfect locations. This mindset can be very limiting especially if such “perfect locations” are not anywhere near where you live. It’s quite beneficial to have a designated “playground” for you to visit frequently and practice your craft. Especially if one has very limited experience in dealing with the demands of the changing environment, it is important that you don’t impose this limitation on yourself and go out to shoot as often as you can even if your location is a seemingly boring riverbank or creek. There will definitely be some disappointing days but you should keep shooting anyway.
This point has only been made stronger by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions were raised across the globe, and even if it is still possible, the prudent choice would have to be avoiding any travel-related logistics that would expose you to a lot of possible carriers. Many landscapes and travel photographers learned to find and appreciate the nearby locations to where they live even if they weren’t as spectacular as what they are used to. At the end of the day, it’s the act of creating a visually appealing image that matters and not the iconic elements at the place.
Everything Can Be Done in Post
I personally have nothing against post-processing and believe that mastering it is as instrumental to the craft as shooting itself. However, this mindset that of absolute reliance on post-processing (and/or manipulation) can be the most careless mindset for any photographer. The truth is that not everything can be replicated by post-processing, and ultimately not everything can be remedied by manipulation. Many photography purists would even argue that too much post-processing takes away the essence of landscape photography, and I personally think that it is valid in certain circumstances. This mindset can often lead to a lot of missed opportunities to create amazing images straight out of the camera that would save you a lot of time from post-processing. More importantly, knowing how to deal with certain challenges in the field, even if it can be done easily in post, will prepare you for some of the best shoots you will do as a landscape photographer.
Post-Processing Is Cheating
The polar opposite of the previous mindset can also be very destructive. While it is safe to say that most photographers would prefer to be able to capture a perfect image without the need for any enhancement, most of the time, images would require even just a slight bit of refining and retouching. In fact, even just a minor adjustment can cause such a drastic improvement of an image, especially if that factor was such an obvious but easily correctable flaw.
It’s also important to realize that landscape photography does not require you as a photographer to document or record the exact situation of the location. The act of composing and framing an image alone can be considered manipulation since it excludes less-than-appealing elements from the frame, but what matters is that the craft has quite a low threshold for authenticity. Unless it is to be used as a form of documentation or if the image is submitted to a competition that restricts certain methods of editing, the right extent of post-processing is usually healthy for any photographer’s workflow.
Landscape Photography Requires Perfection
It’s never a bad thing to aim for perfection when shooting and creating landscape images. The central theme of landscape photography is the beauty of the place and of the environment, which is why perfection is often associated with the standards of a good landscape photograph. However, being too caught up in achieving such perfection can sometimes lead to a lot of hindrances and ultimately a lot of frustration. Keeping in mind that most shooting conditions are never perfect and adhering to this mindset can lessen the limes that you actually go out to shoot. Most of the things that will make you an outstanding landscape photographer are the things that you learn as you face the challenges of less-than-perfect conditions.
At the end of the day, the thrilling essence of doing landscape photography is in going through the entire process, from the moment of getting inspired to capture a particular image, to getting yourself in front of the scene, all the way to polishing your near-perfect image. Repeatedly going through all the steps of the process is one of the most effective ways of becoming a great landscape photographer.