How To Make Great Landscape Photos Part i

lenticular cloud formation sunset clyde central otago new zealand rocks

Sunset Cloud Formation - Clyde, Central Otago, New Zealand

So how do you make great landscape photos? Unfortunately you don’t.

My (unofficial) mantra is as follows: nature photographers don’t make great photos – nature does.

Not everyone would agree with this, I know, but in my experience every single one of my best images has relied on nature providing me with a wonderful photographic opportunity.

As the famous Woody Allen quote goes “80% of success is turning up”

My job is to turn up on the day and not bugger up a fantastic photographic opportunity.

As a photographer, It is my responsibility to pack my gear, set the alarm clock (especially for sunsets if I get to sneak in an afternoon kip in the car) and at all times ensure that my caffeine delivery programme is operational.

That’s about it – from there on in it’s a mind game really; find the right spot, figure out a composition – test shoot it, realise it was crap : panic : find alternative spot : rinse and repeat until done.

The pressure really comes on when nature puts on a show – that’s when you find out how good you are.  A good nature photographer has to read the signs, pre-visualise shots and then be willing toss all of those pre-conceptions out the window when things change.

Review, reassess, respond – rinse and repeat. 

No, it’s not very zen like – but I find it thrilling.

Sunset Lenticular Clouds Above Clyde, Central Otago New Zealand

Lenticular Clouds Above Clyde, Central Otago New Zealand

The two shots on this post were taken on the same evening – I had been watching the cloud formations all day from home and figured there was a chance of some sunset goodness.

Over a period of an hour I made at some really pleasing compositions. I had never shot at this location before and it was a mission – incredible light and clouds everywhere you looked but very few clean compositions.

By the end of the evening there were lens caps, filters, lens hoods and jackets spread all over the area – but somehow I came away with some very nice shots – and a night to remember!


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