Three days of blah weather…

We’ve had a few days of blah weather around Edmonton and still I am busy with photography. Not shooting but processing.

I don’t spend much time outdoors taking pictures because for me, there are only a couple of hours maximum of great light. Forget what you read in the magazines or online about being able to shoot any time of the day. You can’t. Or rather you can’t and expect to get anything worthy of keeping.

Landscape photography for me is not about photographing pretty places. If that were so, I’d be hoofing it every week to Banff and Jasper. Lake Louise in Banff is one of the most beautiful places in the world but for the life of me, I can’t remember any “great” photos of it. It’s easy to confuse photographs of beautiful places with beautiful photographs of places.

Nope, no photography for me today. It’s heavily overcast with intermittent drizzling. The light today is great for portraits and closeup shots of nature, neither of which I like to do. If that’s your thing, know that my terrible light will be your beautiful light.

Even though I won’t be taking photos, I will be involved in photography. I shoot very quickly. Here’s my way of maximizing the little amount of time when the light is great.

I really don’t compose very much with my camera. That is, I don’t have my camera to my eye constantly looking around and seeing what looks good in the viewfinder. In fact, I hardly ever see what I have shot until I get home.

I’ve gotten used to the focal lengths that I use. That is, I visualize in my mind what the scene looks like. It all happens very quickly.

My camera is always set to bracket exposures. If I am shooting into the sun and the sun happens to be in a corner, I bracket one stop more to under expose. For depth of field, I usually have the camera set to f11 or f16. That covers ninety percent of what I do.

If I want something very close to the lens to be in focus along with the horizon, the camera will be set at f22. If the focus is extreme, then I’ll do a series of brackets focused close and then far. When I get home I can then combine the near and far brackets for increased depth. It really works well.

So, I see what I like, I plop the camera down, it’s always mounted on a tripod. I point the camera in the direction of my subject. Quickly frame it in the viewfinder. Expose my five bracketed shots and I’m done. Next! You can see how if I chose to use filters, I would get slowed down considerably. There are the rare times that I wish that I had a graduated neutral density filter but for me, it’s just not worth lugging anything extra around that I don’t use or need. Some photographers swear by their filters. I swear at them. LOL They only get in the way of my creative process. If you think that those expensive filters are absolutely necessary, check out my website. Of the few hundred photos posted there, maybe less than a dozen were shot with filters. That was when I was LEARNING that the endorsements by so called professionals was complete BS. I found that in many instances I wished that I had shot the scene without filters because once you introduce that color or darkness, it’s almost impossible to get rid of. Bottom line, DON’T TRUST PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO TELL YOU HOW IMPORTANT THEIR EQUIPMENT IS! It’s ninety percent you and ten percent equipment. If you can’t take a good landscape with what you have, more equipment isn’t going to change that.

It all happens under a minute. If there is a breeze blowing and I see grasses or leaves moving, I will sometimes shoot the scene again and pic the frames with the least or no movement to use when I am home.

The photo above is an example of shooting under a minute. From where I stopped my vehicle here, I spent three or four minutes, took a few different views and drove a few hundred meters down the road and captured something completely different.

That was a good morning. I was out for an hour and a half and came home with at least a dozen keepers. Those would be scenes that are completely different one from the next. You’d never guess that they were all taken within minutes of each other or possibly within a kilometer or two.

So for days like today where there isn’t any shooting going on there are lots of images to look at, edit and either delete or process. That’s another part of the process, editing and deleting.

If after four or five views of a series of bracketed images if they don’t appeal to me, I DELETE THEM. Why keep photos that you consider only half as good as the others? I want viewers to see only what I consider my best images.

Another good reason for being a ruthless editor is hard drive space. Since I switched camera systems a couple of months ago, this new camera gobbles up space. Remember I usually bracket five exposures. Sometimes I keep three, sometimes five. I just browsed a folder where my photos are. The RAW file size averages 40 megs. So for each scene that I shoot, one photo can add up to 200 megs of space. Then when I process that and save it as a 16 bit TIFF, the file size balloons to over 200 megs. You can see how space gets quickly used up if you’re not careful.

Luckily one and two terrabyte drives aren’t very expensive. LOL

Enough writing for today, it’s off with the dog for five miles of walking before the drizzle turns to a down pour.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on August 14, 2012.

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