How I Shoot Landscapes and Why

landscape, processing, shooting technique, Alberta, rockies, banff, autumn, Dan jurak, foggy, morning,

I might have attention deficit disorder. I kind of joke about that sometimes because I have a lifetime of doing things really, really fast. If I don’t, I find that I am losing interest in whatever it is that I am doing.

To see me photographing landscapes someone might think that I wasn’t seriously thinking out my composition, waiting for the light to be right, etc.

They might be right but then again, I know what works for me and it sure isn’t wasting time, sitting in one place waiting for the exact conditions that I want.

Photography is a lot of trial and error. I would rather take ten separate views of the same landscape while the light is good and have the time to sit at home and edit what I like or delete what I don’t because once you have left that location it is gone. Like former NHL great Wayne Gretzky famously said, you miss one hundred percent of the shots that you don’t take. It’s like that for landscapes. If you shoot ten times and get one or two good images then that is one or two that you wouldn’t have if you waited or didn’t shoot at all.

After having taken the photos and returned home I let the pictures sit on the camera card. Once in a while I will go through them and delete the over or under exposed frames. Because I bracket everything except for my aurora or milky way photos I always have five exposures of the same scene. I find it wasteful sitting outdoors figuring out what is the perfect exposure when I can squeeze off five quick frames and worry about the exposure another day. What you don’t take you don’t have. Remember?

Then the real fun begins. The processing. After having used Photoshop since version 2.something I am still learning new ways to process. Once in a  while I pay for a tutorial from someone whose work I like only to see how they process differently than I. From that tutorial there are usually a few new things that I can pick out for myself.

Years ago I would process my favourite image when I got home and post it just as quickly. Upon reviewing the image more often than not there would be things about it that I didn’t like. Today I’ll process an image. Leave it for a day or two and refine it. Sometimes that can happen four or five times. For me anyways I need to distance myself from what I am seeing. Its the rare person who can sit down and process something once and be perfectly fine with it.

Oh yeah, one last thing. For many years everything that I posted was an HDR. Not the garish kind that you might associate with HDRs but something that looked very normal. Todays cameras with their very wide exposure latitude have made that unnecessary. For the past couple of years everything that I’ve posted has been from one RAW image.

And thats that.

Happy shooting,


~ by Dan Jurak on September 27, 2018.

2 Responses to “How I Shoot Landscapes and Why”

  1. That is interesting to read about how you approach processing. I am realizing just how little I know. When you say bracketing, do you mean a few pictures, each with a different exposure? Then you can develop the individual photo or merge them for an HDR? I am afraid of overworking my images. I see photos out there that are so over-processed, in my opinion, but others seem to like it. I have to remind myself that the objective is to please myself because there are so many ways to do things but also keep an open mind and learn from others. After going to a camera club meeting I am frankly overwhelmed.

  2. Jane, when I photograph a scene I have the camera on the tripod and shoot five identical frames but over and under exposed. I later edit out the obviously over or under exposed images. I no longer process as HDR because I find that I can better do what I want with one exposure.\
    About overworking images, I need some objectivity when processing as my brain becomes too used to what I have done so I will often leave the image and return to it a few hours or a few days later. Often it will look “wrong” and I’ll continue to work with it until I get the look that I want.
    There is an urge to seek approval in others but that speaks more to our ego and insecurities than anything. Art is a personal thing, at least for me. It’s nice to get approval but the measure of success is whether or not I like it.


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