I love looking at landscape photography, and I enjoy taking them too, though I am by no means a landscape photographer. That disconnect needed to be overcome, so I started experimenting.
My work as a photographer is primarily focused on commercial images and portraiture. I revel in the preparation, mood boards, the shoot itself, and the culling process. But one area of a complete shoot workflow that I really do love is the post-processing. It's where I get to see my ideas come together and to create the finished product. Since I first started photography, editing has been a key part of my time as a photographer, as I had a background in Photoshop before I picked up my first camera. But then comes landscapes.
Whether I shoot macro, portraits, adverts, cars, newborn, animals, sports, or whatever else finds itself in front of my camera through either my paid photography work or my reviewing of equipment, there's one constant: landscape images are the only genre I almost never edit. I'm not talking about composites of skies or complex Photoshop work; I mean I don't even adjust the raw files in Lightroom most of the time. I love taking the shots, but I can't ever bring myself to do anything more than that. There is some bizarre cognitive dissonance between my love of taking all types of photographs and my complete disinterest in working on landscape images.
At this point, I am sitting on tens of thousands of landscape images from all over the world and not just tourist locations. I've been to Iceland and Norway in the last two years, both of which are near the top of the charts of desirable destinations for landscape photographers. I look at the work of photographers like our own Mads Iverson in awe and yearn to shoot the locations, and in some cases, I have. I just never seem to edit them.
So, I knew it was time for a change. I had to bridge the gap between my desire to shoot the landscape and my complete indifference towards editing them. I would guess I edit one in every 100 landscapes I take, and those are rookie numbers. Here are some of the ways that have helped me with this bizarre problem.
The first issue I had was that I didn't think I could create a single image with the requisite impact for me to actually like it. On the rare occasion I took an image I thought was strong enough to be standalone, I would edit it, but ordinarily, I would categorize it as too close to average and never look at it again. One workaround I found for the disparity between my desired caliber of shot and the inputted raw file was to look for an extra criterion: synergy. I would assess images to see if they would fit into a set with other images I wasn't going to edit. Shots that might be average or a little mundane can become far more powerful when they are part of a set shot and edited in the same way. Suddenly, when I was out with my camera looking to take landscapes or cityscapes, I began trying to find multiple angles and perspectives of similar scenes to put together in a set. This motivated me to edit the set once the files were on my computer.
Aim for Print
It's criminal how little I print my work. It's not because I don't want to print my work, either. Whenever I do, I'm elated and proud of it, but the prints are seldom for me; they're usually for clients or family. A few times, however, I decided to take a specific shot that was intended for print. The above image is one of those instances. My girlfriend's family and I go to Devon every year for a holiday, and it has become a special place for us. Nevertheless, I wasn't taking any images I'd do anything with. So, last year, I decided one of my goals for the trip was to create an image with the intention of printing it and hanging it on the wall. The above image is a panoramic of Lee Bay in Devon. By creating the intention of print, I overcome some of my unreasonable expectations for landscape images. It's not a bad image — I do like it — but the blend of sentimentality and the intention to print it meant I at the very least edited it and enjoyed the work, as opposed to the file sitting on hard drives and the cloud for eternity labeled "not good enough."
I have a confession with a previous misconception of Luminar: I thought it was for photographers who didn't really know how to edit images. That is, anything they wanted to do to their files, they didn't know how. Then, I learned that it could also be powerful for people who want to do lots of specific tasks, as it streamlines your workflow and automates lots. My problem wasn't really any of the above, so I wasn't sure it'd have value to me. Then I tried it. By using it, I learned my biggest problem: I didn't know what to do with the files most of the time. When I shoot commercials or portraiture, I know exactly what I'm setting out to achieve when I pick up my camera. When I'm shooting landscape, I'm never really sure what I'm aiming for; capturing the scene rarely cuts the mustard anymore. What Luminar did was start showing me directions I could take my image with its presets and dedicated landscape tools, and inspiration would often strike once the seed was planted. Though sometimes, the seed stage is just bypassed, and Luminar take the raw file most of the way to the finished image.
Do You Suffer From This Problem?
Do you take landscapes only to let them fester and never complete the process? What have you done to get past it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.