A great photograph can invoke feelings and stir the emotions in a way that few other things can. To produce such a photograph takes planning and time. So many people see a great scene, whip out their camera and take the shot. Later when they are home reviewing that picture they realize it didn't not capture any of the inspiration they felt.
They first key to capturing a great photo is taking your time to setup the scene. Try to get it from a perspective that is not head height. Step way from the scenic view area and look for a new place to take the photo from. Also don't forget to use your LCD to review the photo before you walk away.
Once you have a technically sound photo it must them be process and adjusted to really become what you saw in person. My photography really started to shine once I finally found my grove post processing. I shoot all of my photos in raw format. Below is example of what I get out of the camera and what it looks like after 15 to 20 minutes of post processing work.
You can see the before picture on the left is very dull and has no life. It is the same photo but the life is just not there. The photo on the right is what the scene looked like in real life. Post process can certainly be over done, but it is essential to making a great photo.
This questions is asked time and time again and answers very from post to post. The factual answer to this question is yes, people can make a living with landscape photography. The larger question is can "you" as an individual make a living at landscape photography.
The facts are that anyone with a few hours and digital camera can take a landscape photograph. The shear volume of people taking photos ensures that at least some quality photographs will be produced. Based on a estimation from an article on Infographic there were 1 trillion photos taken in 2015.
If you assume that .001% of those photographs are top shelf stunning work it would be 2,739,726
masterpieces taken every day around the world. If 10% of those are landscape photos that could mean 273,972 hit the market every day. Your photo would only be 1 of those 300,000 photos.
The question you have to ask yourself is "Am I good enough at producing quality work every time I hit the road to put food on my table?" Better yet "Do I have a history of selling enough work that if did it as my full time job I could make a living?"
Take this example, you have 100 photos that bring in $150.00 per year. You have collected those photos over the last 5 years. If you calculate the time used to take each photo at 2 hours. This could include travel time, color adjustments etc. You have used 200 hours of time to create 100 photos. Now you want do this as a full time job. If you calculate your photos per year based on a normal work year. 242 days at 8 hours a day is 1,936 hours divided by 2 is 968 news photos a year.
So each year you add 968 photos to your collection. Based on your historical performance each photo will earn you $1.50 per year. Lets map that out for the next 5 years.
In order make a living on landscape photography you must make either a significant amount per sale or a large number of sales. Both are difficult to do. I would never discourage anyone from attempting to make a living at landscape photography, but be prepared for the long road to success.
I must admit I sure do love the way a polarizing filter makes the sky and clouds look. It does a great job of blocking the reflections on leaves, rocks, etc. A good polarizing filter can make your photo look great with little additional work on your part.
Now for the downside of polarizing filters. If you use a wide format lens or intend to shoot any sort of HDR or exposure set to combine you may want to not use a polarizing filter. Using a polarizing filter for shots and then combining them later can show significant color banding. On wide format lenses one side of the shot may be much darker than the other side. i
I love to use a polarizing filter when I can, just be sure to review your images before you leave the field. You don' want to be disappointed when you get home.
This is an interesting question that I ask myself every time I am 8 miles back in the woods carrying my tripod. While there are many people of will most certainly disagree with this statement, use a tripod. Every time I choose to be adventurous and not use a tripod I get the greatest perspectives and love the freedom to frame the shot how to I choose, but I never like the finished product.
If I shoot HDR or if I have low light conditions the far away objects are not clear and I am unhappy with the sharpness unless I use a tripod. There are few things more dis-heartening then to have the perfect shot on the LCD but after you process it, it goes in the recycle bin.
High ISO shots are hard to keep the noise down in and lowering the aperture to increase your shutter speed will cause you depth of field to be too shallow. There are many who will disagree with the choice to use a tripod, it really is a personal choice.
They say digital removes the need to have a tripod. I have been shooting digital for 15 years and only started using a tripod consistently for the last two years. My photography it better for it.
The most frequently given tip for landscape photography is lighting. Most landscape photographers avoid shooting between the hours of about 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. You can still get some amazing shots during those hours of the day but it not as easy.
The best example I have of lighting having an impact on a scene are the two photographs below. They are both beautiful shots of almost the same subject. The first picture was taken about 8:00 p.m. and the second about 8:30 p.m.
The second picture has much more drama and mood to is than the first. Some people like picture one better than picture two. Personal choice will determine what you want your photography to say about you.
If you have every been disappointed with your photography you are not alone. Even the greatest photographers often miss capturing a scene. I have had streaks where every time I click the shutter button I have a gem. I have also gone for weeks and weeks shooting the most flat dull images.
When get so frustrated with the garbage coming out of my camera I want to give the whole thing up, I force my self to stop and remember why I do this in the first place. Photographing nature is one of my favorite things.
Being able to capture the emotion of a setting and share that with others is what really grounds me. When I am stressed about producing bad photography it most of the time is because I am trying too hard to take a picture that will sell.
I do this because I love it. If some day it pays the bills then I could truly make a living doing what I love, not many people can say that.