We really are inundated with amazing image, after amazing image, on our Facebook and Instagram feeds to name but just a few. It can feel overwhelming as a photographer. What can I do to improve? Why do these pictures look so damn good? During a recent discussion by email and on Facebook, this theme emerged.
On a personal level, a lot of the time a great picture is unexplainable to me. I feel like I’m in the groove and I see the mood, the outcome I want to achieve. I guess it’s easy to work in an intuitive way when the technical attributes are not a barrier. But anyway, trying to explain the unexplainable, here is some attempt at some tangibles.
A breakdown that you might be able to consider and see what aspects of your photography could be improved on.
And so the discussion went .. So why do so many pictures look so damn good online?
Firstly 99% of stunning images are flawless technically. Its second nature and these photographers don’t even need to think about things like aperture choice, ISO, what filter should they use, should I blend, etc. And that’s the key point really. The technical stuff doesn’t drain energy from the thought process because once you know it, its intuitive, its essential and irrelevant in equal measure. You need it to make great pictures but at the same time, it’s just a prerequisite.
Secondly, they also have that technical skill when it comes to post-production. Intuitive and second nature. I feel like vision is a really big part of the shooting discussion within photography but sometimes forgotten in regard to post-production as the unwavering drive to learn what more and more buttons do continues. The technical skills are important and must be learned but in my opinion, like shooting, vision in post-production is more important. Knowing what you want to achieve and then trying to figure out how to do it. Good vision and good judgment come with practice.
Thirdly, light and composition. These people have a great eye for a picture and they work on original and interesting composition in the best light. Difficult to teach this but the more pictures you look at, and the more you go shoot yourself, the better you will become. Distribution of space. How the angle of the light influences the mood of the image. See a picture as your camera sees it, as what’s achievable in post, rather than a literal interpretation of what’s in front of you.
Fourthly, think about how much time these people put in and what lengths they go to. Crazy hikes to get into some locations, waiting for days for the right light, a willingness for some hardship to get the best picture, obsession. Big hikes aside, making consistently great landscape images requires an acceptance that you might just need to return to the same place, again and again, to get it right. Get wet, get dry, get wet again and don’t stress the clothes will dry.
And so went the discussion. I think if you look inside and think about these four points they might provide some guidance on what you need to improve on as a landscape photographer. As an educator within the landscape photography community, these are the factors we focus on quite extensively.
All that said, Aidan White from Living Earth Photography summed it up well as this discussion moved to our private Facebook group:
Dedication deserves reward. What we all must remember though is that behind the online perfection that we see is the failure we don’t see. Nobody gets it right first time, and for that one perfect image there’s a hundred others not quite right. By all means admire all those images we see online that are mind blowing and inspirational, but try to avoid comparison with one’s own work and just strive to be the best you can be and enjoy the light.
Well said Aidan.
IMPROVING YOUR TECHNICAL SKILLS – We offer 2 courses to help with this that are aimed at the beginner/intermediate level. Core Skills 1 and Core Skills 2 are designed to give you the foundation skills needed to begin the process of being more creative. Head over to the workshops page even just to see our suggested list of topics to lay the right foundation.
IMPROVING YOUR POST PRODUCTION SKILLS – We are currently working on a set of educational videos that will deal with the essential skills needed for Photoshop and Lightroom. There will also be an ongoing series to help you with vision and judgment while at the same time helping with your technical skills set. Watch this space.
LIGHT/COMPOSITION AND DEDICATION – Why not take an immersive workshop over 3 – 7 days and live and breath photography with us. The focus will be on experience and getting the best shot possible enabling you to learn while also creating a great array of stunning images. We also have some short Dublin courses and Wickllow Masterclasses that are more geared towards the intermediate to adavnced levels.