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Life of a landscape photographer

Posted on: March 4, 2015 by jamie | No Comments

When I manage to hightail it out of the real world to explore the places that i have been longing to see. I spend an exorbitant amount of time researching the place I am going to photograph.

I start off with location. Next, decide upon spring, fall or summer. Research what the weather is like historically the time of year I will be going. Then spend quite a bit of time looking at other areas around my prime location to see what else there is to photograph in the vicinity, granted my definition of vicinity might be a bit skewed as I will drive 300 miles in a night to get to my next photo location. After this is all figured out next it is onto whether I will be staying in a hotel or sleeping in the car, all depending on if i will be arriving at my destination at 4 pm or 4 am. There is not a lot of sleep in landscape photography as anyone who does it on a regular basis will tell you. You have got to be at your locale an hour before the sunrises and an hour after it sets or all night if you are doing milky way shots. So all the pre-trip planning is done,  now onto what happens when I get to my spot.


After I have jumped on a plane to the destination, then driven 3 hours to the place i want to photograph I need to scout the area so I will need 3 hours before sunset to make sure I find the exact spot i want to shoot. First off “the light” I want to be a sure about where the shadows are going to fall and what is going to be lit up at sunset. For this there are a few ways to go about it.


#1 The Photographer’s Ephemeris, this is going to show me exactly that. It is a great resource for figuring out light conditions


#2 Google earth is another great resource for this.


#3 Just watching where the sun is dropping and making an educated guess what it will be hitting.


The light is more or less figured out and now is the time to take it all in. Put down the camera, clear my mind of the hours it took to get here, what the lighting conditions are going to be like, that pesky storm front I have been hearing about that can completely mess up the shot. Put it all aside and just look around , you are here, this is the place, this is magnificent!!! Don’t ever shoot just to shoot. I mean do whatever you want but if you aren’t loving your surroundings when shooting then what is the point?


One of the easier things in all of this is actually taking the picture. Don’t get me wrong I have absolutely had my share of flubbed photos, I think i have gotten everything right and then bam! the foreground is tack sharp but the background is ever so slightly out of focus. The spectacular composition I thought I had is just not that special or why didn’t I switch out the full compact flash card that I can’t format because i have to transfer the images.

So it goes like this I spent countless hours researching a dream place i wanted to photograph. The weather, the landscape and not to mention the dangerous animals and insects in the area.  Put a lot of time and money into planning the ridiculous amount of miles I am going to be flying and driving and lack of sleep I will be having. The hotels or lack there of in the area i will be visiting. Figuring out a guide that will drive me 120 miles into the middle of the desert so I can shoot this one spot. I know, this all sounds ridiculous and probably would not be any fun for many people. This is why I love it!!! I love all aspects of it, from planning to to shooting to photo shopping. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This truly is the journey of many landscape photographers.

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