People often ask me if the colours in my landscape photography have been enhanced in some way. My answer is always the same - I tell people that if they stop the next time they are outside at sunrise or sunset and take the time to stop and watch the landscape, they will see amazing colours too....Read More
White Rocks Beach in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is full of potential for landscape photography. One particular challenge, however, is finding a simple foreground amongst the varied rock structures and types scattered along the beach. My strategy on this cloudy evening was to find something interesting amongst the rocks which would be able to become a focal point of a landscape photograph.
The little rock pool ringed with seaweed was a suitable candidate and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to simply the scene within which it lay. By positioning a wide angle lens close the ground I was able to capture the rock pool and the line of the rocks and cliffs leading into the distance.
My landscape photography goals for 2016.Read More
2015 has been a reasonably good year for my landscape photography. I have broadened my horizons with several trips to Cyprus, reformed old landscape photography friendships and enjoyed the beautiful scenery around me as much as ever.Read More
On a recent trip to Ballintoy the sky was a landscape photographer's dream - full of colour and interesting clouds. I was really pleased with a number of colour photographs I captured and I talk about them a bit below.
However, as I looked through my photographs in Adobe Lightroom this composition caught my eye. I really loved the movement in the waves and the patterns in the clouds. I don't often consider producing black and white landscape photographs as the colour of sunset and sunrise are so spectacular and visually appealing. There was something about this image, perhaps the simple shapes and dark rocks, that made me think it suited the style very well.
I post to several landscape photography internet forums and groups. The feedback I received on this landscape photograph was good, but there was quite a bit of debate about the white pebble lying on the beach! I purposely composed the landscape photograph to include the pebble - I feel it filled up the negative space and anchored the image. Many people, approximately 2/3, felt that the pebble distracted from the rest of the image. Feel free to contact me with your own opinion!
Here are some of my colour landscape photographs from that evening:
Portglenone Forest in County Antrim is famous amongst Northern Ireland landscape photographers for its annual bluebell displays. Northern Ireland has very little ancient woodland so people flock from all over to this spot! The displays vary in quality from year to year and the window within which to photograph them is very narrow indeed.
This year I visited a little too late - many of the blueballs had been trampled on which was very frustrating. The overall quality of the display wasn't as good as in previous years.
I did however, capture the landscape photograph above which I was very happy with. I used my Canon 70-300mm L lens at its maximum focal length to isolate the bluebells growing around this ancient tree trunk. The wind was rustling through the trees, moving the leaves and branches gently during this long exposure.
I hope to return to the same place next year and witness a better bluebell display. Where do all you other landscape photographers out there photograph them?
Alex Nail, a very talented landscape photographer from England, recently posted an interesting article about landscape photography manipulation. His article was prompted by an article he had read on 500px.com. Essentially, Alex feels that image manipulation including brightness, saturation and contrast adjustments are acceptable, but when one physically alters the landscape by, for example, adding a different sky to an image, one has gone too far. Ignacio Palacios, the landscape photographer to whom Alex refers, is much more accepting of physical alterations to the landscape, including creating composites, changing the shapes of mountains in Photoshop and so on.
My own take on this debate is that changes to brightness, contrast and saturation are wholly acceptable. In fact, a camera can't capture an image as the human eye sees it. Some photographers proudly declare "I don't edit my images." However, taking this approach is somewhat of a false economy as, even when you shoot in digital RAW format, some other entity such as Adobe or Canon chooses how to display the pixels your camera sensor captured on screen. By taking control of brightness, saturation and contrast, you as the landscape photographer are choosing how that sensor data is displayed.
When one starts adding other skies to a landscape photograph, adding trees, stretching mountains to make them taller, I feel that the transition from landscape photographer to digital artist has taken place. Several images of average quality could be combined by a skilled digital artist into an interesting landscape image. However, in my opinion this requires far less skill than the pure landscape photographer who takes the time to compose the image carefully, wait for the amazing light and so on. I class myself as a landscape photographer, not a digital artist and I am against compositing and making physical changes. My own limit would be removing a bird that had flown into frame or removing a piece of rubbish that had been left in the landscape (assuming I couldn't remove it in the field). If you look at the example below you will see a before and after of my typical landscape photography post-processing. I'm sure you will agree that I did all the hard work with the camera, not the computer.
The viewpoint at Magheracross, which lies between Portrush and Bushmills, affords the landscape photographer with one of the best views of the Northern Ireland. I drive past this viewpoint several times a week and never see the same scene twice. However, there are two constants, namely the strong wind (which is to be expected when standing at this altitude on the rugged Atlantic coast), and the powerful waves pounding those interesting rock structures into existence.
These little pink flowers grow along the top of the cliffs and must be very hardy indeed. I intentionally included them in my composition as I don't feel that an image entirely dominated by greens and blues quite works. I'm not an expert on colour theory but I must have listened accidently for a few minutes in school art class and know that on the colour wheel, opposite colours tend to compliment each other. As you can see below, green and pink work particularly well.
I am often asked by non-photographers, and less experienced photographers, 'did you Photoshop that?' The truth is that the best landscape photographs require little post-processing work. In this case I burnt the corner of the landscape photograph to push the viewers eye towards the drama in the center of the frame. The most important thing any landscape photographer can do is obtain a balanced, sharp, well composed image in the camera. For this landscape photograph I used a Lee 1.2 soft-edge graduated neutral density filter to control the brightness of the sky, and an exposure of just over a second to try and show how windy it was.
I hope you enjoy this and all my other Northern Ireland landscape photography.
A beautiful sunset gave way to this moonrise over Rathlin Island, County Antrim Northern Ireland.Read More