A Review of ‘Success With Landscape Photography by Tom Till’

Why you should read the book?

The author, Tom Till, is a professional landscaper photographer and has over 30 years of photography experience, travelling extensively to capture the most stunning landscapes on the planet. With his wealth of experience, readers will be able to appreciate the nuances of great photography on both film and digital. The book seeks to improve one’s landscape photography skills. Throughout the book, various photography tips are included by Tom to keep the reader intrigued and motivated to learn more. Unsurprisingly, various brilliant landscape photos fill the book and this can certainly attract the attention of even non-professionals.

Who is this book meant for?

As the book is fairly technical in nature, it is more suited to intermediate/advanced users in landscape photography and those planning to make a living from it. For those without a DSLR or an advanced film camera, the majority of the book will not be very relevant. Beginners might find some areas of the book like taking care of equipment, basic camera settings, photo composition, light effects useful. People who own point-and-shoot compacts may be interested in aperture, ISO, shuttle speed settings etc. Even in everyday photography, lighting matters a great deal. Cloud formations, time of day, direction of photography etc can all have a profound effect on the brightness/contrast of the photos. The book is very general and not prescriptive in nature.

What is the book like?

The book is structured in an orderly fashion, with the first few chapters dealing with equipment (types of lens, cameras, and settings), techniques (exposures, depth of focus etc), lighting and composition. The next half of the book delves into the practical aspect of photography. For instance, it covers life in the field and where are some of the amazing places on Earth. Finally, the later chapters cover issues like photo processing and development. The concluding chapters describe what a full-time landscape photographer’s life will be like.

What can I learn from the book?

Certainly, readers can pick up many valuable insights. Some of the tips include how to maintain the camera equipment, editing your work, settings to use when out in the field and for the different environments. However, to get the most of the book, readers are encouraged to experiment them with the various settings on their professional camera. A major take-away from the book is the importance of being patient on the field in order for the natural lighting and conditions to be in your favor. In addition, the author emphasizes on the value of practice and being self-critical in order to improve. Conditions might be harsh during landscape photography shoots, and wannabes ought to be both physically fit and well-clothed for different weather elements and hike extensively to find an ideal spot.

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Success With Landscape Photography by Tom Till

I (Tom Till) was seeking a good spot for photography alongside Norway fjord. Soon, I realized that a vantage point on a cliff provided me with the best view. I have been in photography for over 30 years and it has took me to many exotic places. This book seeks to improve your landscape photography skills. Landscape photography requires luck and the longer the time you spend on the field, the better your chances will be. Earth can indeed a very beautiful place.

Equipment for the Landscape Photographer. Some cameras can keep both the foreground and background in extremely sharp focus. There will always be a market for film photography. However, digital photography has kept pace in terms of development. Most landscape photographer carry a bulky 4*5 camera. A good tripod and graduated neutral density filters are key too. Weigh the pros and cons between film and digital cameras (example DSLR). Digital 35mm is also a good option to consider. For large prints, the 4*5 camera is the way to go. Compacts are good for first timers who do not care about technology. DSLRs 35mm are great for capturing fleeting moments. You can’t change the lens on a compact as well. A high FPS is not necessary and an SLR (film or digital) will do the trick. Nikon AF lens can work with both digital and analogue cameras. Mega pixels matter in landscape photography. People should consider the medium-format cameras. For lightning, I use a 6*7 camera, with 400 ISO and leave the shuttle open for a few minutes, while trying as close to the lightning as possible. For panoramic shots, use a 6*17. Some people can stitch different photos together to create a panoramic shot. 4*5 cameras provide incredible clarity. It is the pinnacle of landscape photography. The aim is to make the photo as realistic as possible. The back tilt is one of the strategies. For hand held shooting, I recommend the wide-angles over longer lenses. For 35mm users, try to get ED, zoom lenses, lenses with stabilization control, lenses with broad focal-length range. Wide angle lenses are popular for landscape photography. It is important to find a good backdrop as the foreground. Normal lenses are 50mm for 35mm, 90mm for 6*7 and 210mm for 4*5. Telephoto lens tend to compress distance. For these, try to use a high megapixel 35mm camera. Zoom lenses are multiple focal-length lenses and is useful. You can even get telephoto, wide angle and normal views in one lens. If you are not going to use a tripod, use a stabilizing lens. Use aircompressors etc to clean off dust. Use neutral GNDs. Filters are a big part of landscape photography. The GND is supposed to block bright areas of the scene. Filters can be approximated in the lightroom. Use at least a three stop filter. Use a blue polarizer to accentuate blue. Use warm filters if you want colour filters. Try polarizing filters too as they will bring out sky colours and shiny, colourful subjects. Spend on a tripod. Wear state of the art clothing to protect you from the cold, if necessary. Look out for weather forecasts etc.

Techniques for Landscape. You must get up early to work. You need good lighting even though you have the right technique. It’s about marrying craft and technology. Constant practice and shooting is the key to success. Fleeting moments can be captured that way. It is important to learn how aperture works. A small aperture (big number) seeks to create sharp focus from near to far. A smaller aperture lets less light in and must be compensated by a longer shuttle speed to get the right exposure. SLRs have great light metering systems. Many professionals bracket their exposures. Histograms can determine whether your light exposure is accurate. A graph skewed to the left indicates underexposure while a one skewed to the right indicates overexposure. Try to use RAW images where possible. High f-stops are needed to get the best depth of field. Find the right point of focus to get the best depth of field. For shots requiring little depth of field, autofocus is fine. Aperture is lot more important than shuttle speed in landscape photography. A lower ISO is ideal in landscape photography

Light is the Main Ingredient. Light is extremely important for landscape photography. You must understand the qualities of natural light. The best lighting is side lighting. The best photos can be taken just after sunrise and just before sunset. Clouds can be used as subjects too. A cloudy day provides better opportunities. Learn to study cloud movements. Buttermilk clouds are perfect. If you want light but there is none, wait for it. In a forest, cloud cover is good as sunlight will enter in many areas and spoil the photo. Fog, trees and sunlight can create a pleasant, mysterious combination. Use rainbows to elevate a great scene. Use a polarizing filter to brighten the rainbow.

Composition for Landscape. Fill the frame with pattern all along. Use the rule of thirds. Sometimes, shadows will affect your work. Lead-in lines help provide better perspective on photos. An example of lead-in lines would be sand dunes. Find a great near/far combo for maximum field of depth photography. Shoot frames within frames. Use people to create a sense of scale in the photograph. White clouds are distracting because people’s attention will be drawn to them. Look for diagonal lines or S-curves as they are pleasing to the eye.

In the Field. You have to love nature to thrive at landscape photography. Check the weather forecast before leaving your home. Some places require local guides. Lookout for photo guidebooks as well. You may sometimes have to return to the same place much later to get a great shot. Use a GPD so you won’t get lost.

Earth’s Amazing Landscapes. The coast are a great area for landscape photography. The sun can be part of the composition too. Waterfalls make great subjects. So do mountains, rivers, autumn leaves etc. Lakes can provide a source of photography. Deserts are also a great place to work. Be careful of sand in your camera lens. Clean your equipment and make sure that it does not come into contact with sea water. Get a water resistant backpack for jungle photography and remember to slap on repellent. Mountains are amazing for photography as well. You can hire llamas to lug your camera equipment. You may need a 4-wheel drive for snow photography. It may be very slippery and dangerous. Fogged lens are a problem. Autumn photography is very popular among professionals. Floral landscapes are also very attractive. For historical sites and landscapes, you need to negotiate with the ranger there.

Landscape in the Digital Darkroom. Analogue to digital workflow: Image Created à Image Developed à Inage Edited à Image Cleaned à Image Editorialized à Film Mounted, Labelled, Filed à Metadata and Keywords Added à Image Added to DSL à Image added to Archival Library at Highest Resolution à Image Added to Backup discs. You can get colorimeters for your printers. Adobe Lightroom is a great tool to use. People have said that the purity of landscape photography is in jeopardy because of digital technology. Lightroom has the ability to process many images at once. Lightroom can save photos that are over and under-exposed. The fill light control can work wonders. There are also brightness and contrast sliders. You can also edit the white balance and vibrance and saturation. There are also sliders to reduce noise. Sharpening images is also possible. However, an out-of-focus image cannot be saved. Photoshop allows you to stitch photos and create panoramas. HDR can address problems when there are a huge range of light values in one image. Using the grayscale function can create black and white photos.

The Next Steps. There are many peripheral benefits of being a professional photographer. Examples include an improvement in mental and physical well-being. Work to please yourself and hope that your work will be accepted by others. Learn marketing and computing/business classes. Join a professional group. Find a mentor. Keep practicing. Have fun along the way. You can consider self-publishing as well. However this is risky if you can’t sell the book. Focus on a particular area for your book. If you are lucky, you may be asked to do assignments outdoor. Starting a gallery is one option but the rental is likely to be expensive. You can diversify your business by teaching workshops, guide other photographers, sell your computer skills etc. Some of the photography equipment might be deductible for tax purposes if you are a professional. You will also need to set up a blog or website to market yourself. Not many people are landscape photographers because of the fact that it is time consuming and has high initial costs. You need to learn to face rejection.

The Art of Landscape Photography. Look at the work of masters and study them. Understand the history of the industry. Your photos should be able to tell stories. Photography allows spontaneity and this is very important. Always try and shoot things from a different angle and not simply copy others. Do not keep going to the same places. You must also be willing to embrace hiccups in your journey. You must be aggressive and hungry to learn during photography workshops. Don’t simply go through the motion in courses.

The Life of a Landscape Photographer. Being physically fit is necessary for the job. You must also get up early. The bulk of the job involves hiking. You might even have to camp at one location to get the best shot. It is important to respect the rules of the place and not to litter etc. Keep abreast of the latest technology in the industry.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever, and a photograph of that beauty is an important reminder to others of what we hope to leave for our children. Best of luck for photography – and be there. – Tom Till

success with landscape photography