landscape photogrpahy

4 Lessons Landscape Photography has Taught me that Make me a better Everyday Photographer

I have loved the Canadian Rocky Mountains since I was a little girl. As a child, I remember my sisters and I impatiently waiting for our father to arrive home from work while our mother hurried around packing up our motorhome in anticipation for another family adventure into the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I recall feelings of excitement as I buckled my seatbelt with my sisters beside me and my sheltie pup, Cindy, at my feet. There was a thrill in the air as we headed off towards the sunset and “my mountains”. Some of my happiest childhood memories are from these mountain trips. It’s been many years since I was a child but my connection to the Rockies has only grown stronger as the years have gone by. Now it’s my turn to take my own children into “my mountains” to create cherished moments and beautiful memories.  

As a mother my passion for photography was initially being fed by my desire to photograph every single moment of my sweet little children’s lives. However, in 2015 my desire for personal photography development branched off into me exploring landscape photography and I haven’t looked back since. This genre is truly a perfect fit for me. My love of nature and all things outdoors, my passion for spending time in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and my love of photography has melded together and made me into the landscape photographer I am today. I’m about as passionate a landscape photographer as they come and as my priorities to my family allow.

Photography has given me so many amazing gifts. There’s nothing more thrilling then watching the morning sky fill with beautiful warm coloured light while listening to the good morning songs of the mountain birds or watching the sun fight stormy clouds during a dramatic sunset over mountain peaks while breathing in the scent of fresh rain or standing in silent awe beneath a sky twinkling with stars that shine so brightly it’s as if they were touchable…it takes my breath away, every, single, time. The giving doesn’t end there though. The friendships I have made, the laughter so fierce that your belly hurts and your eyes well with tears, the connections, the moments, the memories…all priceless and all because of landscape photography. There’s also applicable gifts that landscape photography has given me which make me a better everyday photographer. Those are what I want to share with you in more detail. 

ISO 100, 21mm, 14f, 1.6sec

ISO 100, 21mm, 14f, 1.6sec

1. Light is key  

One of my favourite all time photography quotes is from George Eastman who stated, ”Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” 

Landscape photography has taught me how to embrace, admire, love and above all know light. As a landscape photographer my relationship with light found an all new level of respect. I cannot manipulate light when I’m out immersed in landscape. I must embrace and accept light for how she shows up. I’ve come to learn that all types of light are beautiful and that knowing how to work with any given light is truly the key to photography. There’s power and beauty in all types of light. 

ISO 100, 24mm, 13f, 20sec

ISO 100, 24mm, 13f, 20sec

2. Composition matters

One of the first lessons a new photographer, of any genre, learns is that composition matters. Then, usually, the rule of thirds is mentioned but composition is so much more than that. Landscape photography has taught how to thoughtfully consider the elements present within my scene and to use them in a way that helps tell a story in a meaningful, visually pleasing and creative way. 

These lessons have impacted my everyday photography. When I capture my children as opposed to just snapping away I try to always compose very thoughtfully. I’ve also become more comfortable with embracing creativity and it was landscape photography that opened my eyes to this possibility.  

ISO 400, 16mm, 11f, 25sec

ISO 400, 16mm, 11f, 25sec

3. Post processing matters 

I find that there are two type of photographers…those that loathe post processing and those that adore it. I’m in the latter category. I think that there is an incredible amount of post processing freedom within the digital manipulation of a landscape image. I’ve embraced those freedoms and thoroughly enjoy creating an artistic image. 

The freedom I have found within processing landscape images has most certainly translated over into my everyday images. I enjoy manipulating and creating something beautiful.

ISO 100, 17mm, 14f, 3sec

ISO 100, 17mm, 14f, 3sec

4. Embrace your own creative self and infuse you into your images

When I was a new photographer learning all the things I could possibly learn I remember feeling anxious whenever someone talked about photography style. Did I have one? Or didn’t I? What if I didn’t? I needed one! When would my style develop? How would I know that I’d found my style? What if I never found my style? Ha! Well these days I’m much more relaxed about such things. Why? Well because I’ve learned, but sometimes still have to try hard, to let go of what I think others will think about my images and instead embrace my own creative self and infuse that into my images. Landscape photography has taught me that no two photographers will ever capture the same scene in the same way. The differences might be subtle, in some cases, but will never be identical. Landscape photography has taught me that as a photographer I need to trust in myself and then capture my images in a way that no one else can ever replicate. I need to always capture what I love, from my own heart, and in my own unique way. 

ISO 1000, 16mm, 10f, 3sec

ISO 1000, 16mm, 10f, 3sec

I’m absolutely delighted to be able to co-facilitate: Enchantment in the Rockies with Kristen Ryan of Kristen Ryan Photography coming this November 6-10, 2019. This retreat has been created for women and will be held in my beloved Canadian Rocky Mountains. Priority registration opens up tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24, 2019 for those subscribed to my website. I look forward to meeting the ladies who attend. I’m thrilled to be able to have the incredible opportunity to connect, learn and grow with each of you as women photographers.

8 Mistakes I Made as a New Photographer

When I first began my photography journey I made a lot of mistakes.  That’s okay, really! I truly think a person learns from making mistakes. A person can also learn from information and so I’ve gathered together some of the mistakes I made as a new photographer to give you a little food for thought.

1. Shooting at slow shutter speeds

This is probably the biggest mistake I made when I jumped from shooting in auto to manual mode. I didn’t quite understand the importance of a fast enough shutter speed.  Shutter speed controls motion in your images so it’s really important to ensure that you maintain a fast enough shutter speed to freeze not only the motion of your subject but your own movement as you capture your image. Rule of thumb when it comes to shutter speed is, try to keep that shutter speed above 1/160 if your subject is very still, like asleep still. Personally, I do not like to set my shutter speed below 1/200 and prefer 1/250 if I have a still subject. Now when it comes to a moving subject I like to keep my shutter speed at least 1/800.  I prefer to go higher if I can.

Now having said that playing around with shutter speed can be extremely fun and will introduce creativity into your images. You can try panning and other creative slow shutter techniques, like long exposure, as a means to feed your creativity.

Here are two examples of shutter speed. In the first image, the shutter speed was fast enough to freeze her motion and the movement in the drapery. In the second image, the shutter speed was slow which blurred the movement in the water and clouds in the sky. A tripod is a necessary tool when capturing long exposure landscape images.

ISO 640, Freelensed with a 50mm 1.4, 1/2000ss

ISO 640, Freelensed with a 50mm 1.4, 1/2000ss

ISO 100, 35mm, 13f, 127sec

ISO 100, 35mm, 13f, 127sec

2. Using a wide open aperture

I remember purchasing my first pro lens.  I saved my pennies and bought a Nikkor 50mm 1.4. I was really excited that I could now open up my aperture to 1.4 and so I did that. At the time I did not understand the relationship between aperture and depth of field.  Aperture significantly effects depth of field.  Depth of field is what is in focus or how big your slice of focus will be.  Another factor that impacts depth of field is how close you are to your subject and your focal length.  I’d open up my aperture to 1.4 and then I’d shoot a close up of my subject. I didn’t understand why my subject was not fully in focus and why only one eye or half the face was. I understand now that a large aperture (f1.4) will have a small area of focus and a small aperture (f22) will have a large area of focus.

Now shooting wide open has a purpose and is a wonderful creative technique to use when you want a small slice of focus to bring visual attention to only a part of your image.

ISO 400, 50mm, 1.4f. 1/800

ISO 400, 50mm, 1.4f. 1/800

3. Thinking that a high ISO would ruin my images

One of the reasons I was shooting at an aperture of 1.4, when I first started, was because I was concerned that a higher ISO would ruin my images. Yes, it is true that a higher ISO will add some noise, or a grainy texture, into your images however noise is always preferred over an out of focus or blurry image due to a poor choice in aperture or shutter speed.  There are noise reduction options in post processing that can really help reduce noise. I often shoot at ISO 2000 or even higher in low light in order to ensure I make good choices about my exposure triangle.  

ISO 5000, 35mm, f4, 25sec

ISO 5000, 35mm, f4, 25sec

4. Not understanding the relationship between light and mood

I had a big moment of learning when it was brought to my attention that there is a significant relationship between light and mood. I’ve always been fascinated by light but it was a long way into my photography journey before I understood that light impacts mood. Brightly lit images are more likely to evoke happy and energetic moods while low light is more likely to evoke peaceful or tension filled moods. It’s not only important to find and use good light within your images but it’s also important to think about the mood within the light.  A smiling happy child might seem out of place in a low and minimal light situation.    

ISO 800, 50mm, 1.6f, 1/500ss

ISO 800, 50mm, 1.6f, 1/500ss

5. Using actions or presets without tweaking

Actions and presets can be incredibly useful in post processing.  They can help a photographer cohesively edit a series of images, maintain a style and speed up workflow. However, very often actions are not one click and will likely need some tweaking. It is best to learn what an action or preset will do to your SOOC (straight out of camera) image before using it. It is also best to tweak most actions and presets.

ISO 640, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/400ss

ISO 640, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/400ss

6. Wishing for more gear

Gear does not make a photographer. It is the photographer that captures the image. Don’t get caught up in thinking that a different camera or a different lens will make you a better photographer.  Practise and learning the technical side of your camera is more valuable than any new gear.

A fun creative exercise to try here is to use a different lens then you’d normally choose in a situation and see what you can come up with!

ISO 500, 200mm, 3.5f, 1/1250ss

ISO 500, 200mm, 3.5f, 1/1250ss

7. Being afraid to ask for feedback

Putting yourself out there is really hard.  I understand this. However, asking for critique will help you learn and grow as a photographer.  Take the advice or leave it.  It’s up to you. Being open to the opinion of another photographer can certainly help you see differently.

ISO 500, 200mm, 4f, 1/640ss

ISO 500, 200mm, 4f, 1/640ss

8. Comparing

Theodore Roosevelt was absolutely right when he said, “Comparison Is the Thief of Joy". Comparing inhibits you from infusing yourself and your own unique artistic vision into an image. It’s impossible to create an image just like that of someone else. In the end you’ll only be doing yourself harm if you compare. Capture what you love in your own unique and beautiful way.  

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all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019