Landscape Photography is tough. Selecting the best landscape images from 2013 is even more difficult. Anyone would think landscape photography would be simple, after all nothing is moving, there is plenty of flexibility concerning aperture and shutter speed, and time to set up. It’s not like trying to catch that single magic moment of the big play in a three hour long sports event.
But you do have to carry your gear to the location, often miles from the nearest facilities. In any kind of wilderness situation you also have to carry food and water and perhaps shelter. The payoff is worth it. For me it’s the Zen like moment when you feel the primal sense of being connected to the world. There is also some value in the sweat. I guess it’s the idea that doing something challenging has value in itself, and makes your efforts more worthwhile. With some skill and a bit of luck you might capture a small part of it to share with others. Count that as an additional reward.
So here are a few of my favorites for 2013. I regard these as getting through kindergarten in the art of landscape photography. Next year I hope to be more ambitious, maybe I can get through middle school.
High Shoals Falls in Summer. This is a great location in South Mountains State Park, North Carolina. The falls are only about a mile from the parking lot, along a trail that is somewhat steep and slightly strenuous, but with a great payoff. There is a viewing platform but the better shots are from the rocks close to the platform. Use extreme care, a slip and the first stopping point is 40 feet below on jagged rocks.
A view of Basin Creek from the trail. This is about 2 miles down stream from Caudill Cabin. Early morning light, just after the sun is above the ridge line. You have to start this hike about an hour before sunrise. The lesson learned here is that all landscapes don’t have to be shot with a wide angle lens. This scene was captured at 50mm.
An early morning shot along the Catawba River just outside of Rock Hill South Carolina. There was a lesson for me in this shot. The natural tendency is to shoot the morning sun, but in this shot the sunrise is over my right shoulder and slightly behind me. The less obvious shot might be the better way to go.
Sometimes simple is good. It’s often said that landscapes are all about light. I got this shot just a few miles from my house on a foggy winter morning. One of those shots that just composed itself.
This image was not an easy one to capture. As you can see it’s steep and to get the scene the only option was to get close. So it was shot at 12mm on a crop sensor camera. The only camera position that worked was atop a pile of rocks that were slippery with moss and damp. Had to do some contortions with the tripod to find a stable position so I could get a 1 second exposure. It was all worth it since this was a magic place, no wind and very quiet. The only noise being the rushing water. Could have stayed there all day.
So that’s the landscape category. Maybe the thing to do with my end of year review is just pick a single image from each category. Or maybe if one category reveals more images I like, that tells me where effort should be spent in 2014. Then again, too much decision making can give you a headache.