Landscape Photography – whatever the weather

Meeting Report

Tony WorobiecTony Worobiec made a very welcome return to Storrington CC to encourage us with the notion “Landscape Photography – whatever the weather”. How appropriate as I sit in the warm writing this watching the rain lashing down outside – but it is a bank holiday after all.

Why do we practise and enjoy landscape photography? For me the best images, be they photographs or paintings, invoke a sense of place even though there may be no precisely identifiable locations in the image. We should aim to transport our viewers to that place even though they have not been there. Much of Tony’s photography is of the North American landscape, and whilst I’ve yet to get my kicks on Route 66 I feel I already know it from pictures in a book of his. And that is the art of it.

So landscape and weather – is all weather good for photography? – is there ever any justification in settling down for an afternoon with Lightroom rather than getting out amongst it? Well I defy anyone to get much immediate pleasure from being out with the camera today but choose the right subject and the opportunities are always there. And you can be pleasantly surprised when pictures are downloaded.

Tony says the trick is to match the subject matter to the weather. So grey skies – urban and industrial landscapes – maybe monochrome. Blue skies and light fluffy clouds – rural landscapes. Rain – city streets and reflections. These were just some of Tony’s many suggestions but the key is observation and to keep a mental (or an actual) list of subjects as you see them day to day. Then when time allows and the weather is right you know where to head for in the quest for a repeat performance of the subject you originally saw.

For instance if I had to go out today in the rain where would I go? Not on the Downs for sure, no chance of the rural idyll type landscape they suit so well. I’d head to the coast – maybe Shoreham Harbour or Bosham – and arm myself with a long exposure filter, my wellies and a flask of coffee. And what would I come back with – well maybe some decent monochrome images with the luminous sea which the long exposure gives. And how do I know this? – because I was signed up to an RPS day a few weeks back when it was raining even harder than today. I was forced to go – I’d invested a tenner after all – and I came back with some images of this type with which I am well pleased.

There are always some throw-away nuggets in a lecture like this. Feel free to disregard the rule of thirds – both Wikipedia and Tony Worobiec say so – phew – how liberating! New facilities in Lightroom and extended range sensors are rendering ND grads redundant – not always but mostly – Tony’s images certainly didn’t seem to have suffered from not using them. And if you’re faced with the landscape photographer’s nightmare – a vivid blue sky – try and include something orange in the subject matter – complementary colours always work well together – and if not orange then yellow or red. Also don’t be nervous of increasing the ISO if necessary – especially with the latest cameras.

Also note that Tony rarely crops his images and aims to do the minimum in post-processing mostly restricting himself to Lightroom with only an occasional excursion into Photoshop. Given the quality of his prints that is a salutary lesson to us all.

So we had an instructive evening given in Tony’s customary, amusing style – thank you Tony. Have I been convinced to go out whatever the weather? Well it’s still raining hard – maybe a cup of tea before I reach for that tripod.