Altered reality? Or not all landscapes are as they might seem…

photoshopped skies, icefields, winter, jasper, national park, rockies, rockys, mountains, ice, snow, cold, landscape, Dan Jurak,

Let me preface this post by saying that in no way should I or do I want to influence your artistic direction. Creating art is about following your heart. It isn’t about seeking attention or approval.

I know firsthand which of my pictures will get more attention and which can be overlooked. Back in 1971 or 1972 I started a two year photo course. Before the first semester of the course was done I had already figured out how to present my assignment and get a high mark. Me being the stubborn person that I am, I decided thereafter to say the heck with high marks, I want to photograph things the way that I want and not what the instructor would like.

Right or wrong that stubborn idea of seeing things my way never changed. I also had a second instructor nicknamed “JR” who told us that when shooting a commercial job, shoot it the way the client wants it even if it isn’t what you think is best and then shoot it your way and present them with a choice. Inevitably the client or editor would choose my version the majority of the time.

Stay true to who you are. Your art is a reflection of all that you are. You see no better nor worse than the most popular landscape photographers of the day. Your vision is just as valid.

Over the years I have spent a lot of time outdoors with a camera. Every sunrise or sunset in the mountains or the prairies isn’t a “Kodak” moment. Some are just plain prettier or more intense than others.

There are so many brilliant skies and sunsets out there that if you never set foot on the planet and were viewing all of these photos you might think that our world was perpetually foggy or bathed in golden colours.

Many and I mean MANY of the most popular landscape photographers, you know, the ones who give workshops and charge many thousands of dollars do more photoshopping to their images than you might think.

I was reminded of this a couple of years ago when I saw a photo of Bow Lake in Banff during the winter taken at the same time and only inches away from one another by the instructor and the customer.

The difference was incredible. The customer had a plain, normal, I wouldn’t look twice at the photo whereas the professional had the same sunrise photoshopped as a scene of brilliant golds and oranges bathing the clouds over Crowfoot Mountain.

So, when you get out there and don’t experience these awe inspiring scenes take heart, most of the time the world doesn’t look like that.

A few years ago I made my annual winter/autumn trip the Jasper and took a few pics of the Columbia Icefields. The mountains look great but the weather is usually horrible for photos. One moment there are clear skies and the next, clouds have blown over the ice fields from the west and the sky is completely enshrouded in grey.

Spectacular sunrises and sunsets are even more difficult to come by.


Usually when photoshopping a hand of God sky a little colour in the sky helps greatly but this time I used a photo taken late in the morning when the skies were completely daylight coloured which makes it more difficult to do a convincing switch in skies.

I spent maybe ten minutes max to rough this out.

Even with a “boring” sunrise or sunset ten minutes of effort in Photoshop would allow for a more dramatic and convincing sky.

So the next time you go out there and are disappointed that the sunrise/sunset wasn’t as dramatic as you had hoped, maybe it was but you just didn’t realize it.

Happy shooting,





~ by Dan Jurak on January 29, 2018.

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