Why Is Landscape Photography So Intimidating?

Landscape photography is definitely one of the most beloved genres of photography around the world, but there is no denying that it can also be intimidating to many.

For the same reasons that many photographers love landscape photography (some to the point of obsession), it can be pretty intimidating. Being fascinated by beautiful scenery and stunning locations is pretty much universal for people, but it often takes more than that to actually start shooting and take adventures to practice and learn landscape photography. Like most other genres, landscape photography is built on the same basics but the workflow has evolved significantly over the years. Landscape photography has been popularized with more complex settings, gears, and workflows, which is probably the main reason behind the intimidation.

Various workflow and settings

There is a quick generalization about landscape photography that seems to assume that all landscape photos require more complex photographic techniques. Perhaps the most common is that all landscape photos should be taken with long exposures. Some believe that all landscape photos should be taken with filters, with a tripod, etc. While these techniques are very popular among landscape photographers for the very simple reason that they are effective in achieving certain standards in image quality and visual design, they are not absolute requirements. The essence of landscape photography lies not in the way the photograph was taken but instead in the full content of the photograph.

While many landscape photographers say they enjoy it a lot because of the creative process, it doesn’t always have to be complicated especially for those who are just beginning their learning process. Suffice it to say, the best way to start your landscape photography experience is to get out there and learn as you go. Learning the correct use of exposure techniques and other methods that go beyond the basics of photography happens best on site. These techniques are problem-solving methods to achieve certain results on images. However, it is not an absolute prerequisite and should not be a reason to hold oneself back from experiencing it.

unmet expectations

Anyone with any curiosity about photography in general will likely have some expectations. Cameras have become so popular nowadays that the process may seem very simple to most people. It is all too easy to be inspired by the amazing photographers we see online and in print, and for the most part, the process and struggles behind those images are left unseen. A person may be inspired by the stunning landscape photos they see in magazines on the plane or even on Instagram enough to dig into the craft but sooner or later they will realize that the steps to get to the location, the challenges of getting to a vantage point, and the actual technical hurdles to taking the photo are not simple As the picture looks.

Weather, the natural environment, light, and dynamic range effects on a simpler camera play major roles in the huge gap between what we initially expected and the results we get. This is part of any landscape photographer’s journey and with enough practice and learning, this gap can be bridged.

other photographers

In this day and age, it is impossible for our photography journeys not to be influenced by other photographers. Various social media and photography communities have made it very easy to spread inspiration to each other, along with scattered educational materials that can be found online. This has had both positive and negative effects on how new photographers perceive the craft and decide to try a particular genre entirely.

There are a lot of amazing landscape photographers in the world and on the internet. Those people who share their talents certainly play a major role in encouraging younger and less experienced photographers to keep learning, travel and keep shooting. The amazing works these photographers share with the world inspires many people and sparks enough curiosity for many to try out this craft for themselves. On the other hand, it is undeniable that sometimes outstanding talents and their actions can be so good that it frightens a less experienced person.

On the other end of the spectrum, people commonly referred to as “gatekeepers” have a huge influence on this as well. Gatekeepers are people who seem to make an effort to shut doors to people in the photography communities and discourage less experienced photographers from trying it themselves. These people are not necessarily good photographers but they somehow abuse the provision of social media to bully other photographers. They usually impose their opinions on other people and the way they work, often dictating their own preferences in aesthetics or styles as if theirs was the only way to take landscape photos. Some take it as much as attacking photographers in different ways as their methods are lazy or undeserving just because they take a different approach. From a broader perspective, it is very likely that they influence this perception of landscape photography in harmful ways.

Specialized equipment for landscape photography

Perhaps the most common reason why landscape photography is intimidated by many is the perception that it requires a lot of expensive “specialized” equipment. While it is true that later on, many landscape photographers invest in more expensive gear and accessories that are customized to achieve better results in landscape photography, that never means that you need all of those when you get started. Perhaps the most unpopular tip about landscape photography is that you can actually shoot with any camera and lens, yes even with your tiny smartphone. This is of course again related to that point of starting to learn the basics of landscape photography. This does not mean that a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera will suffice for the more advanced requirements of outdoor photography but just as a good starting point for anyone.

Ultimately, the use of filters is the most common source of intimidation for many photographers who have not yet tried or learned landscape photography. Many photographers assume that filters are an absolute need in landscape photography and that every photograph requires the use of one. However, the truth is that one can be quite successful in landscape photography without using a single ND filter.

It is best to learn filters by understanding the indicators and effects of each filter for different lighting scenarios. Ultimately, the choice of filter to use should be determined by the effect the photographer has in mind. When a photographer is exposed to several shooting experiences, they will realize that many shooting scenarios don’t actually require any filters, and that the most important aspect of any shot needed to get the best balanced exposures and vibrant colors is timing. It is always best to be prepared with all the filters that you may need while shooting, but given proper timing and creative vision, one can certainly take amazing photos even without them.

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