Why I like to shoot landscapes as quickly as I can

It’s probably a personality trait rather than something that I consciously do. I tend to get stuff done as fast as I possibly can.

That applies to almost everything. You won’t catch me sitting by my camera on a tripod waiting for the perfect light to happen. I can’t stay still. It’s like I’ve got ants in my pants.

Maybe I miss that magical moment while I’m flitting about like a hummingbird? Maybe not.

I don’t believe that you need to be or can be outdoors all day shooting landscapes. There is a very small window when the weather and the light combine to give me the look that I strive for. When the sun is rising or setting and the light is quickly changing, my head is on a swivel looking in every direction, not just towards the sun. There are usually shots in every direction that I look. I’m only limited by how much time I have before the light is gone.

My routine is pretty simple. The camera is always on a tripod with a cable shutter release. Aperture priority is always used. I focus the camera, usually a third into the scene, stop the lens down, I have to do it manually with the camera body lens combination that I use, fire away five brackets, pick the camera up, look in another direction and repeat. A sunrise or sunset usually yields a half dozen completely different looks.

Because I’m not really in love with my photographs, I don’t fawn over them longingly, I tend to forget about the other three or for shots that I didn’t process from an outing. My mind is always on the NEXT photo not the ones that I’ve taken.

The picture at the top of this post is one that I had long since forgotten about. I’ve been going back through old images today looking for more to post on my website and use for stock and this sunset over a wheat field caught my eye. It might have taken half a minute to shoot and then on to the next shot. This is one of the small reasons that I prefer not to use any kind of special effects filtration. That kind of stuff only slows me down and gets in the way of the creative process. There’s nothing really that I can’t do in a few minutes in Photoshop that a filter can do and I think that I can do it better than a filter. To beat a dead horse, again, go over the the Singh-Ray blog where they have “featured” photographers praising the wonderful landscapes that filters allow them to take. Look closely and you’ll see over darkened skies, skies that look unnaturally colored, etc. They really should be more selective about who they showcase because their filters end up looking bad. I’d never want the skies that I see on that website. I’m not singling them out, ALL special effects filters have a really limited use in landscape photography. The use of filters is usually to make a bad situation better but it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.

Well, enough time sitting here writing, off to run the dog. LOL

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on March 27, 2012.

19 Responses to “Why I like to shoot landscapes as quickly as I can”

  1. Word Press “Versatile Blogger” Award Nomination

    This is an official announcement that I’ve nominating you for the “Versatile Blogger” award.

    As a recent recipient of the award, one of the three award rules I must comply with is to: “Nominate 15 bloggers I read, enjoy, inspired by, and making sure you notify them of their place on this list.”

    What is this Word Press award? I had to do a little digging since this was all new to me and I only started my first ever blog in January 2012. “It is a way to introduce bloggers to each other and to promote quality blogs that the awardees and their readers might not be discovered otherwise.”

    You can read more about the award and my responses to the three required rules at my website: http://rickdiffleyphotography.com

    Thank you for your blog and inspiration!!

    ~ Rick Diffley ~

  2. Great topic of post for my venture out in the morning, after finding your blog a few months back I slowly read every post on your blog, whilst on night shifts at work and was inspired by your down to earth, chilled attitude and openness to your work flows…..

    I’ve only really photographed school/pre school children and families as a part time business and so after tonight’s shift at 06.00 I’ll be going straight to the nature reserve near to where I live to take my first landscape images (ever!)

    My body is on the back seat attached to my manfroto tripod and cable release in my pocket (£3 from ebay) and looking forward to it….

    My aim is to get as best composition as possible and try to make something mundane and ordinary, look reasonably interesting, and turning it to photo realistic hdr

    Thanks for making me get off my ass and use my camera…hopefully photography will become a hobby again rather than work

  3. @ Rick, thank you, I think. God forbid that I ever become popular because if you read this blog regularly, I say and do everything that I can to avoid that. LOL I’ve probably made more enemies in the photo business than I know.

    Congrats to you on the award!


  4. @ Shane, first my apologies for keeping you from your bed while you’re chasing the sun and the clouds. LOL

    I too use those cheapy cable releases, I usually buy a half a dozen of them and use em up in the course of a year. Some last longer than others.

    About the shooting, expect to be disappointed. That’s par for the course. Look at your photography over the long term. You’ll find that over the course of weeks, months and years there will be a noticeable improvement as you go along. It’s something that should continue for as long as you shoot. I know that my tastes keep changing in pictures and how I shoot evolves. Never stand still and you’ll continue to improve.

    Good luck on the shoot!

  5. Amazing image! Whether you sat around for hours or did this in a few minutes, in my opinion you captured the perfect moment. And thanks for sharing your technique. :)

  6. @ SKEdazzles, thank you. No secrets here. :)

  7. Hi Dan! I’ve been using a wireless remote control shutter release (bought on eBay for ~$4). The good news is that it’s small, and can be used from 10-15 feet away, and there’s no cable to get tangled. also handy for taking pictures without appearing that you’re taking pictures. the bad news is that it’s small, and thus even easier to misplace. but it works for me :)

  8. @ Steve, it might work for you but I’d end up losing it in the snow or tall grass. I use a piece of bonsai wire to wrap the shutter release on the camera body neck strap and I’m good to go. I lost one on the average of every half dozen trips out until I did that. LOL

  9. Another great poast and of course lighting is everything as ever !

  10. Well, I finished work at 6 and went straight out to beat the sunrise at 06.47….it went ok, I didn’t realise how cold my fingers would get lugging the tripod around a lake and muddied my work trousers getting some low angle shots….Id have been stuffed without the cable release, thanks for the tips….i just need to tweak the hdrs and practice
    Here are 3 images that I shot

  11. @ Shane, that low light is nice isn’t it? I posted something ages ago about dressing for early morning shoots. In the summer time the ground is always wet or dew covered and getting wet means being cold. I have a pair of rain pants that I wear along with waterproof hiking boots that I use for morning shoots. Why hiking boots too? If you wear runners, sneakers, dress shoes, etc, they either absorb water and get drenched or they’re low enough that water gets onto your socks and wet again.

    Imagine doing this when it’s -30Celsius and sliding filters or using the adjustments on a tilt/shift lens. It’s almost impossible. I think less is more with landscape photography. The less you have to get in between you and your previsualization the better your photos will be. Congrats on the early trip!

  12. @ Hellen, thank you. It really is more the light than the land.

  13. HI Dan! As usual, a straight-to-the-point post…rather like your self-described shooting style! After a long rainy winter here in B.C., I’m still finding myself frustrated by the lack of early-morning sun because of all these damn mountains around, lol! I long for a flat open plain like the wonderful image you’ve presented here. Oh, to see an actual horizon! I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m still “focussing” on wildlife photography rather than landscapes. But I always appreciate good ‘scape images, and you’ve got bundles of them! And lots of down-to-earth tips to go with them. Thanks again for sharing your outlook, without any bs!

  14. Hi Peggy. Where you live determines how and what you shoot. Because things here are very flat and at times very barren, the way I frame, visualize, etc. is different than if I lived in the mountains or a rainforest. It’s only a guess but if I lived in the forest, I think that most of my shots would be verticals or looking up or even focusing on the vegetation which around here is very sparse. There’s no one right way to do anything, photography included. I only know what works for me by trial and error.

    Enjoy the rain. :)

  15. @Dan/@Shane… another thing i would recommend is a pair of rubber kneecaps; you know, what carpet-layers and other construction people were. helps when crouching low to the ground

  16. ..and fingerless gloves. gotta get that complete geek thing working for ya! :)

  17. I think I look pretty good in my foam knee pads and orange knitted fingerless gloves… NOT !!! … but no sore knees or frozen hands !! I recommend having a “little HOTTIE hand warmer” in your pocket too

  18. Beautiful photograph! I love the intensity in the colours and the composition!

    I normally shoot landscapes the way you do, especially when the light is very good. However, there are times where I have a particular composition in my mind but for it to work, it requires the right kind of light and weather conditions. When that happens, yes, I do wait until the correct conditions happen. Having said that, I only do this about 5% of the time I go out shooting. One of the beautiful things of photography is that it can be very spontaneous and very rewarding.

  19. @ Redxibi, thank you. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

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