My Angle

This is where I ramble on about the way I like to do things. Everyone has their own methods, but there are a few things here that may be useful to people starting out in landscape photography.

MY ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT

A good pair of neoprene-lined wellies for standing in water, especially in cold weather - something I seem to do quite a lot of.

A backpack-style camera bag for when I need both hands free for climbing or negotiating rough terrain. I use a Tamrac Velocity 10x sling bag. I love this bag because it's top-loading and you can carry two large SLR cameras with lenses attached, one of which is a large zoom lens. This is something that many camera bag manufacturers seem unable to provide. It has room for a couple of extra lenses and a flashgun if needed, and has a large front pocket for spare batteries, filters, memory cards, maps and cake. Being able to access your equipment without taking off the bag is very useful when there is nowhere to put the bag down.

A sturdy tripod is very useful, but I often carry a monopod instead for convenience.

Oh, and the cameras. I have two digital camera bodies. I'm not going to go into the relative virtues of my cameras. There are a lot of exceptional cameras out there these days - it's all a matter of personal choice. When looking for a camera, just look at the reviews for the best you can afford. Try www.trustedreviews.com. Handle the camera if you can before you buy as you need to be happy with the feel of it and with the feel of the controls.

Lenses: My main lenses are a 28-300mm zoom and a 17-40mm wide angle zoom.

TAKING PICTURES

I shoot pictures in RAW format. This does take up more space on the camera and on the computer, but the advantage is that all the information captured by the camera sensor is recorded with no compression of the image or automatic processing by the camera. The main advantage of RAW is that any alterations made to a RAW file can be undone, even after you have saved and closed it. It's like having a digital negative.

I like to bracket my exposures; it's useful for combining them later on the computer to bring out detail in the sky or shadows for instance.

PROCESSING IMAGES ON THE COMPUTER

I mainly use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Camera RAW (for adjusting settings on the RAW file, eg exposure, white balance and a lot more, prior to opening the image in Photoshop.

There are more good image processing softwares available such as Adobe Photoshop Elements (nice friendly user interface), Paintshop Pro and Serif Photo Plus, and Gimp, which is a free, very powerful one. Whatever you use, there are 100s of great tutorials on the web.

I'll be adding techniques to this page periodically, but I'll kick off with an effect I use from time to time:

The Orton Effect

Originally developed by the photographer Michael Orton, it produces a soft dreamy effect - a blurry and slightly saturated photo that still looks sharp. Here's a good tutorial.

Sharpening photos in Photoshop

This is how to avoid the colour haloes on edges that usually occur when sharpening. In Photoshop, go to Image mode >> Lab Colour. Go to the Channels palette (If it isn't showing, go to the Window menu and tick 'Channels'). Click on the 'Lightness' channel. This changes your photo to black and white. Don't panic. You will apply the sharpness to this channel to avoid the colour halo effect. Go to Filter >> Sharpen >> Unsharp Mask. Experiment, but the setting to use are variable from Amount = 150, Radius = 0.5 and Threshold = 0. The setting will depend on the photo. Once you're happy with the result, click OK and go to Image >> Mode and change the mode back to RGB.

More coming soon...

Nick

Smartphones – The new photographers' best friend?

A little while ago, after much cajoling from my wife, I got myself a new smartphone.
Until that point I’d always considered them to be just a novelty - fun, but of no real use except for the obvious phone and maybe emails.
Wrong!
I would now be lost without it. I have apps that will tell me the tide times for anywhere in the country, sunset and sunrise, moonset and moonrise times and phases, location-related weather forecasts and a compass, plus many more useful things.
There is also satellite navigation to tell me how to get to my chosen location by car, as well as a 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey walking app which shows me where I am and where the footpaths are. This makes sure I never get lost when out and about, and I can find detailed topographical points of interest and features near me.
Also, if you live in the northern latitudes there is even a sun activity app that will inform you of any new solar activity and tell you when the best likelihood of the Aurora Borealis giving a good show.