Why I LOVE photographing close to home…

I love shooting landscapes close to home. I will never be one of the more popular shooters on the photo forums. Photos of barbed wire fences or fields of barley will never compare with the spectacular landscapes of the American west or the mountain parks of Canada. Eyes will always be drawn to the dramatic landscapes of the national parks before everything else and that suits me just fine.

I am blessed with not having to contend with the crowds of photographers at Lake Louise or Vermillion Lake in Banff during a morning sunrise. Where I take pictures I am the only one with a camera. I get the occasional curious glance from farmers as they suspiciously eye me driving by in their trucks. Once they see the camera, I always get a wave and a smile. I think they appreciate the beauty of the prairies the same way that I do.

Don’t get me wrong. I look forward to photographing Jasper and Banff any time I can get out there. How could you not want to photograph one of the most beautiful places on earth?

I think you judge a person’s photography by the body of their work, not by one or two spectacular photographs. The rockies will always only be a small part of my work. The prairies will always be MY PLACE.

My time in the mountains might add up to a week or a week and a half over the course of a year. That’s a tiny amount of time to become intimate and familiar with your landscape. It’s impossible to catch the subtle changes of the season when you don’t live where you shoot.

Those special times that I have been privileged to witness on the prairie don’t happen every day but because they happen in my back yard, the chance of me catching them is greater. Landscape photography is about the special times that exist only for a few minutes before becoming ordinary again.

Happy shooting,


ps. I try to keep things as simple as possible when shooting. That means a minimum of equipment. Less really is more. Again, for those who are new to this blog, no filters were used to get this color. This is how the landscape looks when the good things are happening. Using filters on landscapes is like using pliers to tie your shoe laces. You can still tie em but not as quickly or as efficiently.

This is also an HDR. This is how I think HDRs are supposed to look. They shouldn’t jump out at you and say HDR – TONE MAPPING – HIDEOUS! The only reason I use bracketed exposures and tone mapping is because I am usually shooting into the sun or into a bright horizon. Today’s digital cameras still do not have the dynamic range to capture the highlights and shadow detail in one exposure. The day I am able to get all that detail in one exposure is the day I stop using HDRs. Nuff said.

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~ by Dan Jurak on October 12, 2011.

15 Responses to “Why I LOVE photographing close to home…”

  1. Beautiful photo, and fantastic HDR. Do you rule out all filters though? Like an ND graduated filter? I applaud you for staying near what you love and shooting it (and you’re very good at doing that!). And I’m still waiting for a DSLR that has fantastic dynamic range. Come on Nikon. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the photo. Very nice.

  2. WHat an endearing post.. I loved everything you wrote..
    I too am lucky to have a view and it never gets old. Each day brings different colors… Keep shooting and posting :)

  3. @ Katie, thank you for the kind comments.

    I don’t rule out filters altogether. There are instances where they help. I have a whole slew of graduated ND and graduated color filters that I bought when I got back into photography. I read the praises on the Singh-Ray blog and bought into that nonsense. I tried them for a year and found that in some instances they actually ruined photos because they colored or unnaturally darkened things and it was impossible to get the natural look back. Now ALL of my filters sit in a box at home, unused.

    If you’re shooting seascapes that have nothing above the horizon other than clouds those filters are great. Once you start shooting in the mountains or in trees they start darkening things that I don’t want darker. What I am saying in a long winded way is that they have their place. For MY style of shooting, I don’t need them.

    I think we’re getting closer to a better dynamic range for DSLRs. Nikon? Canon? It doesn’t matter which brand. I have no loyalty to either manufacturer and I have equipment from both.


  4. @ dpixel365, Thank you. We all live near treasures. Most people don’t realize it.

  5. Completely agree. The best images are close to home, because no one takes them. Everyone goes out to Jasper or Banff…. gotta have the mountains in my shot, type of thing. I like going out on little road trips to the north of Edmonton, either west or east, but one thing I always forget to do is mark the interesting places I find on a map, so I can return. I wonder how many times I have run into, or passed you by :)

  6. @ Mac, I recognized some of the same locations that I photograph on your website. LOL

    North of Edmonton has become kind of like my back yard. I’ve been out there so many times in the past few years that I usually know where there are good trees, buildings, fences or ponds to shoot. Look for a black Toyota Rav4. That’s probably me.

  7. Beautiful photo! You’d be surprised, I don’t even us a DSLR, just a normal cybershot. The fact of the matter is that nature is absolutely gorgeous, all you gotta do Is find the perfect moment..and that’s that.

  8. @ Bearer of Light, you’re right, it’s not the equipment as much as the person using it.

  9. I like photographing close to home as well. I think there is a special connection that will show up in the photos. Yours is beautiful.

  10. @ thepetalpusher, thank you. No one can catch the daily nuances of light and weather like a local.

  11. Hi Dan
    Thanks again for display such a wonderful images.
    I really likes the ways you shows all those HDR images which totally different from what I seem from other. great works.
    So it is possible there a ebooks to show us how you process those images,


  12. @ Anada, You’re welcome. Thank you for visiting and commenting. There are probably more HDR images out there that look like “normal” images than you might think.

    About the ebooks, I’ve been thinking about doing one for a long time. Since I am a designer or will be for another few days yet, it wouldn’t be difficult to put one together. Depending upon what happens at work in the next few weeks, I might be putting one out in the near future.


  13. Dan, I couldn’t agree more with you about photographing close to home. There’s a connection to a place that we know well that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. It lets us show others the place that we love enough to live there.

    In fact, I wrote a book about it: http://craftandvision.com/books/close-to-home. If you’re interested, send me your email address and I’ll send you a copy.


  14. @ Stuart, you’re soooo right!

  15. Thanks for sharing this post with us,its really very interesting concept.good work….keep it up.

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