It's been 14 months since I bought my Canon 5D MK III, a big step up from my old 30D (which still sits in my closet). I've learnt a lot along the way, bought some new gear and seen plenty of beaches along the Darwin coastline. The following are some of the key things that I have learnt about landscape photography during that time.
Patience is pivitol
Initially I would go out and take as many photos as I could before the sunset, well ok not that many, but usually half a dozen or so over the course of an hour. Now I'm happy if I come back with just one photo per outing. I've found that taking my time, finding the right composition and waiting for the right light will result in one epic photo, versus a few "good" photos with my initial approach. I'll now sit around for half an hour taking a dozen photos of the one composition so that I can walk away with the absolute best possible shot that could have been taken that day. It's quality over quantity in my books.
Light is everything
Like I mentioned in the previous point, waiting for that one moment where the light of the setting sun is at its most brilliant will elevate your photo beyond the ordinary and turn it into something remarkable.
Filters filters filters
Neutral density filters in both soft and hard versions are a landscape photographers best friend. They are essential for balancing the bright sky versus the darker ocean/land. Whilst you can take multiple exposures and merge them later in Photoshop, getting it right in camera makes you a better photographer and saves you heaps of time in post-processing.
Everyday is a good day
Some days are better than others and the wet season is more dramatic than the dry, but the Northern Territory has a beautiful and inspiring landscape with photographic opportunities everywhere waiting to be shot. Yes I've had plenty of days where the elements didn't go my way and I walked away without any keepers, but with every outing I learn something new.
If your latest photo isn't better than your last in some way, then you're not trying hard enough. Everytime I go out, even if its a 20 minute quickie down by Nightcliff beach, I aim to better myself and broaden my photography horizons.
Use the right gear
Your number one photography tool is your own skill and your "seeing eye" but having the right gear helps of course - a quality tripod, cable/wireless remote control, wide angle lens, filters and an digital SLR camera.
Only keep your best shots
I wrote another blog about this topic, but to briefly summarise - only keep your best photos. I take plenty of bad pictures, but only the great ones ever get to see the light of day. This serves two purposes:
- Being critical at your own works makes you better - spot your mistakes and know why some photos worked better than others (light, composition etc).
- You have the appearance of being better to those who are viewing your work.
So there you have it - the past 14 months have been an amazing photographic journey. I really enjoy pushing myself creatively and technically to produce the best images that I can.