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Landscape Photography

Landscape photography could fall into the category of “artsy-fartsy” with relative ease. After all, landscape photography is full of “rolling” hills, “whistful” mountains, “picturesque” landforms silhouetted against a “whimsical” sky, and so on. But landscape photography is a great discipline where composition is of utmost importance for making a great photograph.

To begin with, there is little about digital landscape photography that you will find different from conventional landscape photography, except that if you use one of the latest model "prosumer" digital cameras, you're likely to find yourself carrying a lot less weight in your bag. In fact, you might not need more carrying capacity than large pockets in your jacket or vest. I do recommend a tripod, but you can get by with a lightweight one at that. The steadier you are with any camera, the sharper your images will be, and this is an even more critical with a digital camera, often operating at slower shutter speeds than you may be accustomed to using a conventional camera. Cameras like the Olympus C-2000Z afford you the opportunity of using accessory lenses for close up, wide-angle and telephoto work. The only filter I'd recommend using is a polarizer (remember that auto focus lenses require a circular polarizer) to help eliminate glare from water, glass and even leaf surfaces as well as to darken skies. A lens shade is also a desirable accessory, but you can always shade the lens from sunlight with a hat, if you're prone to wear one. Do be sure to put some lens cleaning tissue in your pocket; dust is always a problem and a clean lens is always preferred. Film isn't an issue since you will simply carry disks on which to store your images. You'll probably be traveling so light you'll wonder what you may have forgotten to pack.

With the likely exception of high noon on a clear sunny summer day, there isn't a wrong time to make landscape images. And, even though you've probably always been told that the best times are early morning an late afternoon when shadows are longer and more dramatic, I can think of many instances when conditions were perfectly delightful at 10 a.m. and 3p.m., however, every site has its exceptions and rules.

Every change of weather brings opportunities. Clouds cast exciting shadows, sunlight sparkles through leaves directly overhead, fog and rain alternately obscure and reveal mysterious elements of an otherwise common scene. Furthermore, when the time isn't right for photographing a grand vista, it often is perfect for making images of intricate details and tiny flowers.

On your next outing, take a little time to make yourself think about how you are reacting to your subjects. Talk to yourself out loud (if no one's around to give you strange looks) and tell yourself about the things you're seeing. Have some fun playing with different perceptions of objects.

Look at the negative spaces as well as the positive ones. The positive ones are the spaces where objects are while the negative spaces are the places where they are not--like shadows and sky and water. You may not feel like you're in a rut, but all of us have familiar perceptions and patterns of behavior. Try to break away from these; it could help you discover your own special way of seeing.