The Best Locations for Landscape Photography
“Location, location, location,” right? When it comes to landscape photography, the location entirely defines the subject matter within the artwork. Just as an acrylic painter will choose a style or feeling for their artwork, a photographer must pick the location which best defines the style or feel they want to portray.
I could list my most successful and favourite locations, however, this would be a narrow view compared to the copious opportunities that exist around the world. I’ve traveled to many places throughout the years and still have a long list of countries I need to explore with my camera. I try to avoid ‘over photographed’ areas although there are places all photographers must visit. While I recognize that there is a reason some locations are heavily photographed, I believe that as an artist, it’s important to put your own spin on things and find new locations to capture. This was especially true for my image ‘Morning Spirit’. The goal was to capture an image that had the signature east coast, little fishing village feeling to it. The easy option would have been to roll up on the well-known Peggy’s Cove and shoot there; however, I decided to set out on the road for a week in search of an un-photographed location.
When it comes to Landscape Photography, these five categories are at the top of the list to get amazing photographs.
It’s hard to turn away from a good photograph of New York’s skyline. It’s also hard to find someone who isn’t attracted to a stunning cityscape that captures the electricity, character, and movement of metropolitan areas. I find that collectors are drawn to the shots of cities that they have a connection to. More often than not, these urban images capture the very essence of a city and give the viewer an opportunity to step right into what it is that they love about a place. Because of the incredible detail in them, I find that the viewer’s eye never stops wandering around, always finding new things to enjoy. This is especially noticeable in ‘Victorian Nights’ & ‘City of Colour’. We get people standing for long periods of time in front of these particular images, taking in all the detail and intricacies. It seems as though every time one looks at these cityscape images there is something new to be found
There is no denying that humans are deeply connected to water. Oceans bring a sense of calm and tranquility while representing many things to different people. There is an infinite number of opportunities for photographers when it comes to seascapes because you can capture a stunning shoreline with a sharp contrast of the water’s edge. The ability to use a fast shutter to your advantage to capture a wave smashing into a shoreline, or slowing it down to create a mystic aura as you see with ‘Pacific Dreaming’. The use of a 10-minute long shutter speed slows the water down and gives it a ‘fog-like’ presence around the rocks. This subject matter gives me the ability to put my artistic skill to the test and capture the image I have in my mind; this is how images like ‘Rip Curl’ and ‘Blue Crush’ came to be. One day I was sitting thinking about shooting images of waves, but not just any wave… I wanted an image of one that looked like a painting. So, I hopped a flight to Hawaii where the most vibrant and stunning waves can be found!
I’ve found great imagery throughout the prairies and seemingly never-ending landscapes throughout Canada. ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘Fields of Fire’ are images Gallery visitors are immediately drawn to because of the vibrant light, contrast, and colour immersed in the image. Some of my favourite images come from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The prairies are known for their ever-changing big skies, each jaw-dropping in their own right. When I shot ‘Pink Rain’, I spent 5 nights in the same location. Every evening I was there, the sky was vastly different from the previous night. In fact, the night before I captured the image that came to be ‘Pink Rain’ I stood through a tornado storm cell and got completely soaked with my camera. It wasn’t until the following night when the clouds happened to be breaking at the exact moment that the sun was setting that I was able to capture this image just as a rain cloud passed overhead.
If a photographer thrives in landscape imagery, waterfalls are the locations to study. One has the ability to capture the movement and power if they are framed correctly. There are surprisingly many angles one could take when shooting a particular waterfall, each carrying their own identity. Much like seascapes, the speed of the shutter directly impacts the mood that the photo has. A slower shutter speed will capture the movement in the water over a longer period of time, while a faster shutter speed will stop the water dead in its tracks. I have always gone towards longer shutter speeds in these scenarios as it tends to create images that bring a tranquil feeling into the environment they are displayed. Dozens of Gallery visitors have stood in front of some of my waterfall images (Sacred Falls, The Hidden Gem, and Stepping Stones) and commented, “It’s as though the water is moving!” With many attempts and observations with shutter speed, one can create this illusion when it comes to falling or moving water. I’ve received positive feedback from collectors regarding my vertical, panoramic waterfall images. We all have those awkward places in our homes and condos with a ‘regular’, square formatted artwork will not fit! These vertical waterfall images not only command attention but complete the space!
We’re lucky to be in a part of the world with so many mountain ranges. Photographers travel from all corners of the world to visit Western Canada to capture the grand scale of these geographical masterpieces. Because of the vast terrain photographers have at their fingertips (after a lot of hiking) there are many options when it comes to the perspective you want to take. You can avoid the hike, set up your camera gear and look upwards, creating an overpowering atmosphere. This technique is used in cinema. If cinematographers and directors choose to shoot the character from below, they’re creating a strong presence and ambiance. When shot from above, there’s an opposite effect. Shooting from the foot of a mountain will create a completely extraordinary dynamic as I saw in “The Guardian” – this particular mountain had a certain presence as it was perfectly situated in the lush, Hawaiian green forests. Because I captured it from the angle I did, the image truly resembled a “Guardian” – like figure or character. Taking the perspective from atop a mountain range will give the viewer a thoroughly different experience. One of the fastest-selling images in the Gallery, “Once in a Blue Moon”is an all encompassing mountainscape which gives the viewer a seemingly never ending horizon. Being perched on top of a mountain, the photographer can take wider angles, layer the image into sections (foreground, subject matter, and background) or do a full 360-degree shot.
The Weather Plays an Important Role in landscape photography:
After all of that, the major factor that defines when to shoot a particular location is the weather. A specific location can sometimes be redefined by the weather. Yes, location is key, however, a simple rainfall, heavy snowfall, or dense fog can transform the photograph. “Arctic Frost” only became “Arctic Frost” because of the calm winds and fresh snowfall on the row of trees in the foreground. The landscape near Moose Lake, BC offered incredible photographic opportunities for my panoramic style – if I had taken this shot during a dry, summer month, the image probably wouldn’t be worth noting.,
“Legends of the Sea” and “Solitude” are my two most popular images which generally pull people into my downtown Victoria, BC Gallery. Many have told me “Solitude” reminds them of a cold, winter day in Winnipeg – they’re surprised to find out it was shot on a mountain in West Vancouver! The same goes for “Legends of the Sea” – people are blown away when they learn that this photograph was taken in downtown Vancouver! A dense fog completely trumps the location in these two scenarios. Weather patterns can define a photograph while also transporting the viewer to another location in their own minds if they see fit. I enjoy using fog to create a very intimate scene, a mood, or simply to remove things that I feel are an eyesore in the scene in front of me.
What a Viewer Sees:
A viewer’s connection to, or familiarity with, the artwork is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to deciding whether to add it to the. Whether it’s the feeling and emotion or a memory of the specific location, familiarity routinely plays a key role. We’ve had numerous collectors take home “Sacred Falls” because they’ve spent time at the foot of that waterfall; they remember the reinvigorating feeling they experienced of the cool mist and fresh air hidden in the forest of Sombrio Beach, BC. Many people have been fortunate enough to spend time in the ‘out of this world’ islands of Hawaii. Countless times we’ve had Gallery guests stop in their tracks when approaching “Island Oasis” or “Island Dreaming”, This happens even more so with travel being put to a standstill during the last 16 months. People immediately recognize the sky, water, and beaches and immediately feel the desire to go back to Hawaii. A location can communicate with the viewer in numerous ways; aside from the viewer being familiar with a particular location – the photograph’s location could invoke a memory of a similar geographical area. “The First Flight” is a great example of how people relate to the ambiance or familiarity of a specific location. Very few people have been to Flin Flon, MB (where the photograph was taken) but they’re overwhelmed by the memory of flying float planes in the Thousand Islands or spending time flying throughout the islands of the West Coast of Canada.
Keeping the location, weather, and the viewer in mind can help your camera capture more than just a visual image – you’ll capture a moment in time, a memory, and emotions that will stick with your viewers for a long time to come. Check out this blog for more tips on how to compose a great landscape photograph.