LANDSCAPE FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY

Every landscape has its special soul, its own story to tell, its memories to keep. Landscapes photographs are rare perfections of light, colour, and composition, offering the viewer a glimpse of a moment of beauty beautifully presented. This collection of landscape photography and wall art encourages an emotional response from the viewer based on the silent exchange between viewer and scene and is destined to evoke memories and experiences of the great outdoors...

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Landscape Photography used in an Interior

 

THE ART OF LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY (Article by Martin Osner)

Out of all the genres, landscape photography remains the most popular to both photographers as well as collectors, and yet for the photographer, it is one of the most difficult to master. 

So why is this discipline so popular? 
Well, I think it has a lot to do with our love for the outdoors again for both the photographer as well as the viewer. Travelling, exploring and enjoying nature is the main attraction. For the artist capturing a great photograph of the landscape is the main prize. A photograph serves as a wonderful way of preserving memories and sharing places, experiences and adventures with others. For the collector, it is more than likely the recollection to a memory that attracts the interest. 

So what makes it so difficult when it comes to photographing a landscape? 
Well, I think it boils down to one simple fact. What the human eye sees combined with what we experience in reality, is very different from what the camera and lens can record. Seasoned landscape photographers will testify to this. 

Human eyesight is three-dimensional combined with peripheral vision and in comparison the photographic process records in two dimensions on a linear axis which is very different from one another. Once you take away depth and the emotional experience which includes expectations, sound and smell, you are left with a two dimensional, flattened interpretation of the scene. The camera does not capture exactly what we are seeing let alone experience. 

Colour, contrast, depth, exposure, lens compression and distortion all play a role in altering the scene. The photographic process is different from the human eye and we need to embrace this instead of fighting against it. "I photograph because I like to see what the scene will look like once photographed". Sounds strange, but it's true. One also has to come to terms with the fact that not every scene can be photographed well and I have often had to put my camera down and simply enjoy the experience without taking a picture, even though the scene I am looking at is incredible! 

This happened to me just a few years ago on a trip to the Richtersveld in the Northern Cape and again in the Cederberg a few months later. In both locations, I was overwhelmed by the landscape, parts of the Richtersveld felt like it was on another planet and some of the locations in the Cederberg the mountains felt prehistoric! 

Yet both proved to be unsuccessful trips yielding very little to show photographically. Translating the splendour of the landscape at these locations on the day proved virtually impossible for me, mainly because of uncomplimentary lighting conditions and bland uncomplimentary skies. 

The quality, direction and colour of light are, without doubt, the catalyst in this genre of photography. Light can transform an average scene into a sublime impression and the angle and quality of light play a significant role. Back, side and front lighting all create a different effect. Backlighting amplifies contrast and introduces mood, side lighting increases texture, and front lighting flattens texture and contrast which can be used to achieve simplicity. For every scene, there would be an ideal lighting condition, sometimes even more than one, depending on the photographer's vision and intention.
 
Keep in mind that great lighting will very often reveal itself from behind a curtain of unusual weather and atmospheric conditions. Storms, clouds, dust, pollution, smoke, moisture, mist, fog, etc. all play a role in creating beautiful light. It taunts and teasers as it comes and goes. 

Blue clear skies and harsh uninterrupted sunlight are not welcoming conditions for shooting, enjoying an ice-cold beer or a chilled glass of wine, yes, but not for landscape photography. That is why most serious landscape photographers only work during the golden hours. From pre-dawn to just after sunrise and a few hours before sunset until last light. 

 

To be a successful landscape photographer not only do you need to be a proficient technician combined with an artistic inclination, but it also helps to be an undercover meteorologist. Back in the day before technology, it was said that only two types of people were allowed to predict weather, fools and out of towners. Well with today's applied science, satellite imagery and weather apps one can get a pretty good idea of the weather forecast. At least this gives an insight of what to expect, and yes, the rest I agree, is up to good fortune, technique and perfect timing.

You see, a photograph should never have to be explained to attain the viewer interest, only enjoyed. Great photography evokes the viewer's, emotion and stimulates discussion and debate on its own. Yet when one's landscape photography skills are jaded, a lot of explaining is needed to justify the reason for taking the picture.

I have found that there is such a lot of "emotional attachment" connected to landscape photography. Allow me to explain. Because we were there in the moment, and because we experienced the scene at the time, the photograph holds special value to us. The picture serves as a reminder and because of these emotions, we tend to look past the errors and lack of dynamic interest. That is why we are often bewildered when others don't enjoy it for what it is. Anyone who has had their landscape photographs judged for competition purposes will know exactly what I am talking about. 

Because of this emotional attachment, I try not to evaluate or make in-depth selections on my work for at least six months after photographing them. Granted I will have an initial quick look through, delete what needs to be deleted and then I will store the remainder away on a hard drive and forget about them. The longer the better. Sometimes I have to laugh when I view the files after the emotion and expectations have subsided, and then usually delete frame after frame wondering what on earth I was expecting to achieve at the time. Then only the best will be processed.

Still dealing with the reason why landscape photography is challenging, another point I would like to bring up is around quality. After spending the time to scout a location, find the perfect composition and wait for the light, there should be no excuse for technical error. Yes, you guessed it, no shooting in a compressed format like Jpeg, no editing of pixels to try and squeeze out an acceptable result, no excessive cropping to make up for the lack of poor or lazy compositional errors and no excuse for insufficient depth or lack of sharpness.

This is where a lot of photographers come short. Proficient landscape photography requires confident equipment handling and proper file developing. Note, I said developing, not editing! Developing is working with the RAW file data, editing is working with pixels, like in Photoshop. This genre of photography requires careful, non-destructive developing, using RAW processing software like ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) 

Landscape photographs need to be printed and displayed large. It's only when printed and displayed that the photograph comes alive. So here's a word of warning, the print is the ultimate policeman guarding the photographic process. Every mistake throughout the entire process will show up for the world to see, and the larger the print the more obvious the error will become. If you expose incorrectly, you likely to see noise or banding, if you don't use the optimum aperture you will see aberrations on the outer parts of the print and poor depth. Should you not manage contrast correctly your dominant shadows and/or brighter highlights will lack detail. If you over sharpen, you will see a thin white line around sharp edges. If you don't clean dirt spots they will stick out like a pimple. And oh yes, worth a mention...in this world of wall art, there is no place for phone photography.