Renowned landscape photographer and educator Jay Patel shared with us 4 crucial ways to start improving your landscape photography. In 2001, Patel bought his first DSLR. With the mindset that nice cameras take nice photos, Patel headed out to Olympic National Park ready to take the landscape photography world by storm. His results, as he describes it, were less than stellar:
Patel was determined to improve his skills, and spent countless hours, months, and years learning from the industry’s best landscape photographers. But with all of that learning, he realized that 4 crucial components to improving your landscape photos were more basic than anyone would think.
I have learned to look at landscape photography as a workflow that starts when you are planning your trip and ends when you finish processing the image. Here are a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way…
- Research and Planning: My first trip to Olympic National Park (in 2001) was taken at the wrong time – during the dry season. Now when I travel, I research the location so I know exactly what to expect.
- Know Your Equipment: Not only did I not know how to use my equipment, but I was also missing key accessories such as filters, a remote release, and an extra memory card. After my first trip to Olympic, I spent the next few years trying to master how to properly use my equipment. This is crucial to being able to capture conditions that can change quickly. I also invested in new lenses, essential filters, and other accessories that transformed my photography.
- Creativity and Light: When I first started shooting, I had no idea the impact that light and creativity would have on the colors in my photos. Over the years, I’ve learned how to use creativity to make the most of the available light. Most importantly, I learned how to research and look for the proper light.
- Post Processing: To be honest, back in 2001 I had no idea how to use a RAW converter other than how to play with the sliders. Now I analyze my photos and know exactly which sliders to use to create the effect that I want. Post processing skills will come in time. With practice and education from photographers you look up to, your editing will become cleaner, and you will edit much faster. Don’t be discouraged if your final photos don’t look like some other photographers. Keep learning, and most important, keep practicing.
It took me several years to master each and every part of photography from planning to post-processing.
Years later, after Patel had focused on improving these 4 key points, he returned to Olympic National Park, and the same locations looked like a different world than when he had visited years before:
Landscape photography is a key component when I am telling visual stories about my travels. I, like most, was really, REALLY bad. Take this image from beautiful Costa Rica. HDR, Saturation +100, AND Orton Effect. What could go wrong?
Well, years and years later, after learning from the industry’s finest landscape photographers and concentrating on the 4 key points that Patel mentions above, and I feel my landscape photography has drastically improved.
To make up for my horrendous photo of Gilligan’s Island on acid, here is 4 awe-inspiring images from from Patel.
You can see more from Jay and Varina Patel on their website Visual Wilderness.
Landscape photographer and educator Jay Patel and his company Visual Wilderness are offering a limited time sale of over $500 worth of landscape photography tutorials from award winning fine art photographers such as Sean Bagshaw, Ian Plant, Colby Brown, Joshua Cripps and many others. Click on this link or the banner below to capitalize on this insane deal. This is only running for a limited time and will end on June 9th. *Bonus* Share this post with the hashtag #InFocusDeals for a chance to win a Sony a6000!