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Oct 02, 2019
As the old adage says, "a picture speaks more than a thousand words." The world around us is a spectacular place filled with snow-capped mountains, beautiful old barns, grassy plains, and water everywhere! Visualization of these spectacular scenes and the light that falls on them is important in order to evoke an emotional response from the viewer.
Landscape photography is like writing a good book with light. When the viewer reads your "book of light" and becomes immersed in the pages of the scene that you captured, they also want to delight in the natural world. Landscape photography is more than just technique, it's about the art of seeing and the language of nature. In order to write a best seller for the viewer, one must understand how to read nature and listen to her song. If you capture the essence of nature, through the art of seeing, your viewer will be enveloped and their heart will be filled with wanderlust.
"Nature's artistic passage from autumn to winter will fill your soul."~Robbie George
Our Mother Earth is an ever changing terrain painted with compelling light, and as a landscape photographer, you need to be prepared with your technique on how to capture these dynamic moments. Technique and the art of seeing in landscape photography go hand in hand. If you don't have valuable technique then your ability to see the art of the scene will suffer.
Practicing good technique as a landscape photographer is important in order to achieve good results. As famous photographer Edward Weston once explained: "A good photographer perfects his technique for the same reason a pianist practices-that through complete mastery of his chosen tool he may better express what he has to say." He also knew that technique wasn't everything, because if you are not personally moved by the scene, as the photographer, then there is no reason to take the picture.
The best landscape photographs have an emotional impact and will evoke a feeling from the deep waters of the heart and mind from the viewer. Practicing good technique will help you express what you have to say in your "book of light".
"Sit a Mother Nature's table and sip gently from the marrow of her soul."~Robbie George
Taking great nature pictures requires patience, persistence, and planning. You need to pick the right time of day, the best vantage point, and choose the right season or weather conditions. Writing a good "book with light" requires good vision and imagination in order to capture the right light for the pages of your book. If you don't have good light it will be hard to read those pages.
As a landscape photographer, you need to immerse yourself in nature. You need to learn how to read nature. You can't write a good "book of light" if you don't know how to read first. Reading Mother Nature cultivates a deeper connection with your surroundings and this deeper connection will be reflected in the images that you capture. Forming a deeper bond with nature has the potential to open your eyes to the art of seeing.
Visualization is one of the most important concepts in photography. If you know how to read Mother Nature then visualizing the final outcome of your photograph becomes much easier. If your nature neurons are firing on all cylinders then the art of visualization will also fall into place. There is always much more to see out there than you might think at first glance.
For example, as flowers react to the angle of light and the sun makes its way across the sky, whole fields change colors. The world around us is morphing and the landscape is shape shifting. Shadows, colors, and patterns are constantly changing with a promise to return in new clothes another day. There is only one certainty in landscape photography, you will get just one opportunity to experience each scene exactly the way it is. It will be different if you return in five minutes of five months.
"The wilderness imposes a profound stillness on the river of your soul."~Robbie George
In landscape photography it helps to understand color palettes in nature. Different colors evoke a different emotional response. For example, blues and purples are cool and calm, while bright red conveys excitement, energy and love. Yellow usually conveys a sense of happiness. A lush green landscape scene will often convey a sense of peace and gives the viewer a "feel" for nature.
The range of colors in your landscape photograph will help guide the story your photo tells. If you are reading nature and paying attention to the color pallet presented in front of you, you can visualize what emotional response you may get when you hit the shutter button.
This can be very subtle to the viewer as well as the photographer, but nonetheless you should pay attention to the colors around you. Remember that landscape photography is about communication and if you don't know what to say in your "book of light" then maybe wait a few minutes for the colors and hues to change. Like I said before, there is only one certainty in landscape photography; you will get just one opportunity to experience the scene exactly the way it is so make your choice wisely.
"Listen to the whisper of the sea and a mysterious serenity of beauty will fill your soul."~Robbie George
Natural light has some interesting effects, which we can use to understand the landscape around us better. Quite a lot of sunlight gets diffracted and bounced around by the atmosphere before reaching the ground after an indirect journey. This diffracted light coming from the sky is called air-light and can produce some interesting landscapes. Shadows produced by the combination of sunlight and air-light can produce colors within the shadows. It can even shape shift the landscape around you.
Have you ever looked at a shadow on the snow during a sunny day? If you look closely you will see a tint of blue in the shadow. This is created by the diffracted air-light and the blue tint is from the blue sky above. Hence the diffracted light on its indirect journey has colored the shadow blue on the snow. In landscape photography you can pick up this diffracted light in the shadows of your images. This can be subtle, but if you are reading the book of nature you will be able to spot this when photographing your landscapes.
The color and temperature of light changes throughout the day. For example, during the so called "blue hour" the sun is well below the horizon and the atmosphere is only able to scatter short-wave blue light. It is the same concept as I discussed above with the "Air-Light." This diffracted blue light gets sent back to earth making the landscape and sky look blue. The longer red wavelengths that the sun normally produce pass through the atmosphere and into space when it's this far below the horizon. Like the "golden hour" the "blue hour" is another favorite time of day for any serious landscape photographer.
As a landscape photographer you need to learn how to read this light and adjust your camera settings in order to capture it properly. The first priority of any landscape photographer is to determine what kind of light you're dealing with. The right light can evoke that deep emotional response you want from your viewer. Having the correct exposure will help tell your "light" story much more clearly.
With that said, a correct exposure is the combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. If you have this recipe correct you will be able to achieve a true storytelling exposure that will fit nicely into your "book of light".
The human eye is able to detect subtle changes in color better than any camera's digital sensor. The digital sensor adjusts to the temperature of light that reaches it. Make sure that your camera settings are correct in order to capture this true storytelling light.
"As the candle of dawn lights up a new day, blessings and new beginnings are on the horizon."~Robbie George
Mother Nature has a spiritual presence that must be honored. As a landscape photographer, tapping into this spiritual presence through imagery has an uncompromising purity of insight and expression. Nature is the ultimate poet of spirit and bearer of spiritual wisdom. She has an honest and indigenous soul that expresses herself through beauty, purity, vibrance, peace, clarity, and enchantment. She is lush, crisp, delightful, earthy, vivid, heavenly and wild. However, her dark side can be brutal, scary and cruel at times too. Honor her presence and she will honor you.
Listening to Mother Nature is akin to listening to music, where the sheer power of the sound can move a person to tears. The voice of Mother Nature lives in the rocks, rivers, forests, and mountains. She whispers in the trees and thunders in the broad canopy of the heavens above. The rhythm, cadence and sound of nature can weave a hypnotic spell in the deep waters of your soul. Her grandeur of beauty is always there, communicating inside and outside of your perceptions. Let her magnetic and powerful music seep into the depths of your imagination.
As a nature photographer it's not possible to reproduce the exact work of the greatest artist herself, Mother Nature. As I like to say "Nature is the Mother of all art." Her beauty is always fresh and living without boundaries or limitations. Capturing her essence with your camera has its limitations just as much as our culture, languages, and traditions have limitations too. As an Indian guide to Tom Wilson once said, "White man's pictures all fade, but the Indian's memories last forever." (1882) Nature's memory lasts forever too, so enjoy what you experience out there!
In order to capture her grandeur of beauty one needs to understand that nature's language is symbolic, she communicates back to us in a unique way, with natural symbols. Her ancient secrets and lessons are hidden and in order to discover the truth, one must understand her spiritual and symbolic clues. Her language is softly spoken. We all need to remember to slow down and listen to her song because it can move you to tears.
"The hidden spark of a dream sleeps in a forest of celestial luminance."~Robbie George
I didn't write this blog and just talk about the technique of landscape photography. You can find plenty of articles on the web discussing this subject. I want to give you something more, to express how important it is to pay attention to the wisdom of Mother Nature. If you are reading the book of Mother Nature, you will come to understand the geometric fractal patterns that exist all around you.
The aroma of flowers and the rustling of trees and wind will fill your senses. The clouds in the sky will create art that will always be painted with a new color or brush. The sound vibrations all around you will whisper to your soul. The color pallets in nature will evoke an emotional response from the deep waters of your mind. The shadows and patterns on the landscape will constantly change and never be the same again. When you are immersed in this sensory extravaganza, called Mother Nature, your creativity, mood, imagination and productivity will soar. This in turn will be reflected back in your landscape photography. Now get out there and write a good "book of light" because Mother Nature speaks more than a thousand words!
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