Landscape Photography FAILS, Lessons LEARNT?

hello hello everybody ah my office space
you may have noticed that it’s changed slightly this is actually the cottage
that my partner and I have been working on for the past year or two now I mean
we call it a cottage but it’s actually a little house it’s 900 square feet and
we’re slowly getting there we have hot water now which is really great we still
don’t have a shower or a bath they’re in but they’re not hooked up yet
now because I I seem to be spending more time on Vancouver Island these days I
decided to set up a little workstation here in one of the bedrooms and so I’ve
taken this old monitor from the house and I’m using my laptop that I take on
my trips with me from for me to set up this this little workstation I’ve
decided to copy all of my photographs from home onto another set of hard
drives I think I have 60 or 70 thousand images which is a heck of a lot of
images now unfortunately it’s it’s also really depressing because I’m
looking through all of these files and it’s amazing how many of them are
actually pretty crap I should really go through them and delete a lot of
them I hate to admit it now even though I’m a professional and being a
photographer now for almost 25 years I make a lot of mistakes most of it is
because of my character my partner Karin will be the first to tell you that I’m a
bit of a scatterbrain I’m always forgetting stuff and when it comes to
photography I screw up a lot usually it’s because I’m I’m so focused on on one
aspect of photography that I might forget to do something with my camera or
whatever what does that have to do with this video well I wanted to kind of go
over some of those screw-ups with you and hopefully you will learn something
from my screw-ups I’m sure a lot of you out there
have your own stories to tell and if you do please leave them in the comments
below perhaps all of us can learn something from your mistakes as well so
what I’d like to do is show you some of the photographs that I took recently
that aren’t so good and didn’t quite work and kind of go over with you why
they didn’t work so without further delay why don’t I show you some examples
of why I screwed up okay okay you may have noticed right off the
bat I put a bunch of my successful images in just to make up for the
unsuccessful ones that I’m just about to show you try and redeem myself okay a
number of weeks ago I had a workshop on the west coast of Vancouver Island in
the port renfrew area and one of the locations that I like to take my
participants is Fairy Lake now Fairy Lake is is quite cool because
kind of to one side of the middle of the lake
there’s this old-growth stump sticking out of the lake and at the very end of
it there’s this lonely conifer just kind of sitting on top now I’ve been told
that this little tree is actually 30 years old I guess in some ways it’s
quite symbolic because we have this lonely tree surrounded by water sitting
in the middle of a lake and that’s one of the reasons why I keep going back and
photographing it over and over every time I’ve gone to photograph the tree
the conditions have always been quite different the one thing that doesn’t
change that much though is the composition it’s hard to get a different
angle on this tree now in the past it had been too hard to get down to the
lakefront because usually the water level is too high but on this occasion
the water level was quite low and a number of the participants in the
workshop decided to kind of scramble down to the lakefront there so I
followed suit and the conditions were just fantastic we had this fog rolling
in and the Sun was just starting to skim the back of the tree and the side of the
log that it’s growing out of something else that was quite exciting was from
this lower angle I was able to finally find a composition that was a little bit
different than everything else I had taken in the past so the composition
involves having the the lonely tree in the middle of the frame and then it was
framed quite nicely by these two dead snags one on each side and then at the
bottom of the frame I had these really great grasses now the only problem with
this composition was that I was using a 70 millimeter lens and because of the
angle of view of a 70 mm it’s it’s impossible to get everything
in sharp focus from foreground to background when I’m that close to the
foreground even stopped down to f/16 or f/22 it wouldn’t be all in focus so I
decided to do a bit of focus stacking now I have done a couple of videos in
the past about focus stacking and in this case it was kind of the same thing
I have my Nikon D850 which is great for focus stacking because you just go into
the menu and it does everything automatically for you all you have to do
is put the images together when you get back home now in this case I’d set up
the focus stacking but I didn’t bother to look at how it was set up and I just
pushed the OK button and it took a whole bunch of images and I did this several
times just to make sure I got the shot now unfortunately when I got home I
realized that what I hadn’t done was I hadn’t set up the the focus step width
which is the the distance between each image taken and everything in the
foreground was in sharp focus but everything in the background was out of
focus so I pretty much screwed up the whole image and really it was just
laziness on my part what I would usually do is take a couple of images and make
sure that everything is sharp on the back of the camera but in this case I
neglected to do that I just relied on the camera technology to do everything
for me so lesson learnt there doing a focus deck manually would have been very
easy in this case it would have been just a matter of taking one image of the
grasses in the foreground one of the dead snags perhaps one of the the lonely
conifer and then another one at the background and then stack those four
images but in this case I relied on my camera and well I screwed up so lesson
learnt there okay since I’m talking about screwing up
focusing I might as well talk about an embarrassing thing that happened to me
several years ago on a trip to Iceland okay no I’d never been to Iceland but I
decided to go in March because I thought it would be a good time of year to
photograph the Northern Lights and to be honest with you I haven’t done an
awful lot of night photography especially the aurora i hadn’t had much
opportunity to photograph the aurora so I traveled around the island and I saw
the Northern Lights a few times but not really good enough to photograph not
until I got down to okay I know I’m gonna screw up the pronunciation but I
think it’s called Hvitserkur now Hvitserkur in itself is a pretty impressive
rock formation but to have the aurora behind it I thought would be a
really great photograph to have and luck was in my favor of the Aurora that
evening was just spectacular it would come in waves and and what I saw on the
back of my camera I was capturing something quite special that night
however there was a couple of huge mistakes that I made that I regret to
this day first off I was checking the images on my on the back of my camera
but I wasn’t zooming in and looking at the focus and the second problem was
that I had put my lens on the infinity mark and most of you will know and if
you don’t know then you know now you should never use the infinity mark on
your lens to focus to infinity and the reason why you don’t want to do that is
because lenses expand and contract with different temperatures so what might be
infinity one day if the temperature changes then the Infinity won’t be the
same on that same lens so be really careful about that I learnt the hard
way so ideally if you are going to do some night photography your best bet
towards success is you work out what your infinity is
before you start your photography at night it’s much easier to do it in the
day now if you are trying to focus at night then a flashlight comes in really
handy and if you can shine your light on something that’s quite far away and
focus on that or I know some people can actually focus on individual stars with
their screen on the back of the camera but yeah check your focus
regularly when you’re doing night photography okay this third mistake is a doozy and
it’s one that I continually make and I know better but for whatever reason I’m
always forgetting to turn off the vibration reduction button on my lens or
is on Canon lenses I use it very rarely but occasionally I’ll use it or I might
nudge it by accident and of course as soon as you put your your camera on a
tripod and you leave the vibration reduction button on then you get what’s
called a feedback loop and so what’s happening is that the camera with the IS
system is essentially trying to detect its own vibrations and then it starts
moving around even when the rest of the camera is quite still and of course
this movement introduces motion and blurriness in your in your image so
that’s not a good thing I’m almost considering getting the superglue out
and supergluing that blasted button or getting some duct tape and
just duct taping it because I don’t know I’m always making the same mistake
so my advice even though I don’t seem to be taking my own advice is to check your
lens continually to make sure that the IS or VR is off when you’re using your
camera on a tripod okay now these last two images aren’t
really fails and there’s nothing in them that I’ve really done wrong but they
they are interesting in that they represent probably about 70 to 80
percent of the images that I have in my library the compositions are quite good
but they’re only almost s– and what i mean by that is they don’t quite work
because the light just wasn’t in my favor and i have a lot of images like
this where i’ve been waiting for the light and you just keep waiting and
waiting and every now and then you’ll you’ll take an image just just kind of
satisfy yourself but you know in the back of your mind that they’re really
not working because of one thing or another
there’s the Snowy image I really like the composition I love the lines in the
foreground and the swirling clouds but what it’s missing is a little bit of
directional light on any part of the scene and also the fact that you can’t
really see the peak doesn’t doesn’t help it at all and the second image I set up
this composition I really like the composition I got quite excited about it
but the light just wasn’t working for me and actually the group that I was with
we started heading back to the lodge and then all of a sudden that the clouds
broke so I ran back thinking that perhaps I might get some backlighting on
the fall larch but it just doesn’t work you really need some kind of I
don’t know dramatic or exciting light just to kind of give it a bit of oomph
it doesn’t necessarily have to be dramatic evening light or morning light
it’s just trying to match the light that you have with the scene that you have
and and make it work and in these two cases it doesn’t really work for me
right I hope you got something out of this video you know as a professional
and I’ve been doing this for quite a long time now obviously I want to put my
best foot forward and I’m only going to show my my best work as most
photographers are and of course over a 20-year period I’m gonna have a pretty
half decent body of work and that’s what you guys get to see now even though I’m
out a lot and I do come away with great images now and then you have to
remember I’m out an awful lot and because I’m out on an awful lot
I also screw up an awful lot and even though I might get one or two images
that I really like there’s many many more that just don’t
work out so when you do make a mistake or you take images that you’re thinking
is going to be really good and they turn out not so great don’t despair don’t
beat yourself up just try to learn from your mistakes 99% of the time it’s
either light or composition so if there’s something that you don’t like in
your photograph say to do with composition then try and correct it the
next time you come across a similar situation or if it’s the light and you
know for whatever reason it just didn’t work then you’ll know that for next time
and it all comes down to experience the more you’re out there the more you’re
shooting the more experienced you become the more proficient and eventually
you’ll start to get images that you really want or that you really like you
will still keep making mistakes but you you’ll learn to live with them alright
thank you ever so much everybody please be sure to give me a thumbs up if you
enjoyed this video and if you enjoy the content of all my other videos don’t
forget to subscribe alright until next time thanks ever so much bye now if you enjoyed this video


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