Anyone can pick a ripe fruit from a tree: part 2

In the previous article, we described the first step in preparing to take a landscape photograph. Once we have written all the necessary data in our log, we begin the second stage of our process: waiting.

A photo that required  days waiting for the best weather conditions: a swampy area near  Royan in Charente-Maritime. A photo that required days waiting for the best weather conditions: a swampy area near Royan in Charente-Maritime.

It may take a day or a week for all the weather conditions to be exactly right. Every day, we check local weather sites that have very accurate data. We only use the most accurate forecasts because we need to know exactly what the weather will be doing every hour. Finally, the day arrives. We get to the site about 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled time to put up our equipment. We install our tripods, and we each choose a different lens so that we will get different perspectives on the scene. We set up the remote trigger.

We have several different options to use in taking pictures. We can use HDR, panoramic, or just regular picture mode. Which one we choose depends on the scene, and especially the lighting. Taking photographs of landscapes requires a lot of technical skill, since the lighting changes very quickly. We have to be able to choose the right tool in a couple of seconds: for example to be able to go from a panoramic photograph to an HDR one without asking any questions. It is during these very exciting moments that we realize how important basic skills, like being able to navigate the camera quickly, are.

Once we start the photo session, we have between 15 and 45 minutes to get the pictures we need. How much time we have depends on the season. In the spring and summer, the sun rises and sets very quickly and we do not have much time. During the fall and the winter, it moves more slowly and we have more time. We vary the parameters of the camera, such as shutter speed and aperture size, to produce exactly the effect we want. We may also change the framing and composition of our shots. But we are still in the few square yards that we chose when we reconnoitered the site. We cannot change our location now. We need to take all the pictures we need now. We will not come back unless there is a technical problem. Time is of the essence right now. We have to get everything right the first time.

When the light has changed to the point where the features of the landscape no longer stand out in relief against the background, we stop. It is time to open a thermos of tea and start enjoying the beauty of the landscape. In general, during the shoot, our eyes are glued to the viewfinders. We are not focused on enjoying the beauty around us, because we are busy trying to capture it. We are completely absorbed in the work. Once we have packed our gear to leave the place, we start to enjoy the view.

The third and last step in our process takes place in the office in front of our computer. We sort, select and process the pictures that we are going to use for our project. We always use a calibrated screen, because it most faithfully portrays the exposure, lighting, and coloring of the images. The laptop that we use when we travel only serves to organize our photos. We do not correct and retouch them during a trip. This step, like the others, is crucial. We will crop the pictures if necessary, adjust the exposure, and bring out some of the colors. We adjust the details, because they are what makes the photo. We keep the mood of the original photograph but we highlight the elements that fit with our vision to always seek beautiful lights and colors.

Once the processing is complete, we have one or more pictures that are ready to be used in a book, an article, an exhibition, or simply sold online. This third step concludes the technical part of our profession. Next we have to market our pictures. But that is another topic that is beyond the scope of this article.

We have described the steps we follow to make a great landscape photo. Are they the same as the ones we use for wildlife and underwater photography? This is what we will see in the next article.

A photo that required  days waiting for the best weather conditions: a swampy area near  Royan in Charente-Maritime. A photo that required days waiting for the best weather conditions: a swampy area near Royan in Charente-Maritime.
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