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Landscape Photography: Where, how, when and why - part 1 of 1 2 3 4

by Paul Gallagher Published

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When seriously involved in landscape photography (as I regard myself ), there is more to it than meets the eye than the final image. In fact my process, or the 'ritual' that I follow to date, is born of a thousand variations and decisions about what I aim to achieve. To stand an outside chance of coming home with an image that I would consider worthy of hanging in a gallery, or printing in a publication, I cannot rely on good luck or chance. This has involved me in having to heed lessons learned and constantly adjust what I do prior to, and during, the photographic process.

Furthermore as you move through the film formats, the larger the format, the larger the camera, the less film you are likely to expose. I remember when I would head out for a day with a small bag with one 35mm camera, three supplementary lenses and 10 rolls of film. I would shoot all images that I perceived to be worthy of collection, process the films and make the selection process at a later date. Now, shooting almost entirely in 5x4, this is not an option for both time and financial reasons.

Secondly I wanted to remove the "hit and miss" aspect of landscape photography that left me in the early days with limited numbers of strong images and some, which I thought were definites, that I had lost to the demon of chance. In short, I wanted to take control of what I was doing and be in charge of the process from start to finish.

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My first port of call before a photographic excursion is to decide where to go and what type of image I feel the need to photograph. This could be rivers, mountains and glens, beaches or woodland. Generally I am familiar with many of the regions I photograph, but I still feel compelled to consult an OS map and seek from the information displayed what may offer a good general starting point.

I have also found that the more this practice is utilised, the better I get. Maps show me the gradient of the land, which is important when carrying large-format equipment, they tell me where the greatest expanse of sandy beach is and where the cliffs are, largest mountains and deepest valleys and most importantly the paths and roads that lead you there. Another essential use for the trusty OS map is locating just where you are (also with a compass) and, although it sounds ridiculous, being able to name the landscape you are photographing. One thing I have learned many times is that when I get wrapped up in a landscape shoot and I become enveloped in what I am doing it is very easy to return to the computer after scanning the negatives and not be sure where you where when you pressed the cable release.


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Updated 18/07/2022 16:31:50 Last Modified: Monday, 18 July 2022