THERE ARE FEW subjects that motivate photographers as much as landscapes and seascapes, and there’s something very special about being in a beautiful location on the hunt for pictures that can do justice to the grandeur being encountered. Perhaps it’s something to do with the experience of being immersed in nature and having to truly explore your surroundings to achieve your end result, or maybe it’s the fact that you’re pitting your wits against the elements, and the scene in front of you can change in an instant as the light tantalisingly comes and goes, sometimes in no more than the blink of an eye.
Those who venture into this genre of photography can find the chase for great images addictive and will happily spend hours, days or even weeks in pursuit of the perfect picture. It is also a
fact that you can return to the same place over and over and still find fresh angles to explore as the seasons bring their changes and alternative times of the day reveal different facets of the landscape that you haven’t encountered before.
While the land is ever-changing, so too the sea is a living and vibrant subject, that will be constantly altering its intensity and force, sometimes whipped into a fury by a storm or maybe as sedate and as still as a mill pond, reflecting the light and adding its unique touch to the scene in front of you. To make the most of it you need to understand its many moods, and how to work its constant movement into your shots and it’s an absorbing challenge that many enjoy embracing for a lifetime.
If you’ve been following this series you’ll know the ground rules by now. We’re running Pro Academy in tandem with the excellent Nikon School and overall we’re setting a total of six testing challenges to see what you can do. You’re cordially invited to enter just one or to go the whole hog and to take part in all six.
We’re inviting you to send across your best single shot from the assignment to our expert team at Professional Photo and, if you’ve met the required standard, we’ll send you back an e-certificate to prove the fact. Successfully complete all six assignments and you’ll receive a further e-certificate to confirm that you really are an excellent all-round operator! It’s not a competition, there are no prizes to be won but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your skills have been recognised and it’s a glorious chance to dip into some fresh genres.
How to Take Part
You don’t need to be a professional photographer or a Nikon user to take part in Pro Academy, and don’t feel shy about sending in the best shot you’ve been able to achieve, even if it’s perhaps not up to the high standards of the work you can see here. It’s all about learning and rest assured we will be making allowances for newbies! Enter your photo below by clicking on the green submission box.
Challenge number Four
Landscapes and SeaScapes
WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD to seeing your very best landscape and seascape images and, as always, the brief is deliciously open and you’ve got our permission to take whatever approach happens to appeal to you. So, it could be a gentle, pastoral scene in subdued colours, or a dark and threatening vista that’s been finished in black and white to add to the drama. You might work with ND filters perhaps to tap into the ethereal touch that movement can make or you could even focus on a detail, such as a tree on the horizon, to make a point about natural shapes and patterns.
Our expert photographer this month is Nikon influencer and Z Creator Kim Grant, who has the good fortune to be based in Scotland and to be surrounded by some of the more gorgeous scenery imaginable.
Technical Tips with Neil Freeman
ONE OF THE most useful accessories that any landscape photographer can acquire is the humble Neutral Density filter. Tiny sliver of glass it might be, but by blocking out a pre-determined amount of the light reaching the sensor without influencing in any way the colour of a scene, this filter can have a huge influence on the end result, allowing the photographer to set lengthy exposure times that allow moving elements within a landscape, such as water or clouds in the sky, to blur in beautifully pictorial way.
“The first thing we teach on the Nikon School courses is that the intensity of the ND filter you need depends on the effect you’re looking for,” says Neil. “You can get strengths ranging from three to six to ten stops and even beyond, but the length of the exposure you give will make a big difference. A really long exposure creates an effect in water where it’s misty and soft, like cotton wool, but I prefer a shorter exposure so that I can achieve more texture.”
Another use for the ND is in creating lengthy exposures for street scenes where there will be lots of people and traffic. Providing everything keeps on moving constantly throughout, if you set a long enough exposure the scene will appear clear, since all the moving elements will not be registered.
Neil always recommends working with square drop-in ND filters since he often combines them with grads, and circular varieties don’t work so well together in tandem. It goes without saying that you also need to be investing in a sturdy tripod to achieve successful long exposures. “The longest exposure set by one of my colleague is one hour 45 minutes,” he says, “but my more regular exposure would be between 45 seconds and ten minutes.”
Submit your photograph here.
Learn with the Nikon School
WITH MANY OF its courses now online, training via the Nikon School really is open to everyone, with a wide range of well-priced learning available to photographers at all levels and using any brand of equipment – although Nikon users will get particular value from the content. Head to the Nikon School website to take a look at what’s on offer and to see what you could sign up for, with everything from lighting technique through to running a digital darkroom, mastering as particular piece of Nikon gear, filmmaking and even one-to-one tuition all available, along with location courses and experience days in the UK and overseas
Kim Grant Landscape & Seascape Specialist
Each month, we’ll feature a top professional from the genre we’re covering to get some idea about what they find so compelling about their chosen speciality.
As a Z Creator Kim is fully immersed in what mirrorless technology has to offer, and her regular cameras are the Nikon Z 7II and Z 6. Partnering these state-ofthe-art models is her favoured Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3, a compact yet highly specified optic that delivers complete flexibility as she zooms into and out of a scene to capture her compositions. It also really helps her to adapt to changing light conditions. Also in the gadget bag and seeing regular use is a Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 wide angle zoom that’s employed if Kim wants to emphasise foregrounds, something that happens regularly when she’s shooting seascapes or waterfalls.
GROWING UP BY the sea, Scottish based photographer Kim Grant has always felt a deep connection to the outdoors and the landscapes around her. “I was lucky enough to be brought up in a beautiful part of the world with many iconic locations close by,” she says. “However, it’s thanks to my local area that I got into photography in the first place. If you can begin local and then branch out you can learn your craft before the big adventures begin.”
Once you’ve found out how to extract the very most from your local surroundings, it’s time to take the next step. Kim has found that her search for subjects has been the motivator for her exploring some remarkable places and, over the years, she’s uncovered more about her homeland than she could ever have imagined.
“I spent my childhood holidaying in Scotland so I was aware of its beauty and diversity before I began my photographic journey,” she says. “However, photography has allowed me to stray off the beaten track and to uncover so much more. I often say Scotland is like 100 countries rolled into one, I’m constantly surprised to be discovering new places and opportunities, and it never gets boring.
“Many of my best shots have been opportunistic and have come about when I’ve turned up on location with no expectations, just to see what unfolds. However, it can be helpful to plan some things in advance. I do a lot of seascape photography where the tide is essential to getting certain images. In these cases I’ll plan my shoots around the tide times, and will also usually have a rough idea of the direction of the sun.
“Other than that, I personally like to sit back and watch the light move across the landscape and I’ll then react to whatever happens. I often go home with shots I could never have envisaged before I arrived and I enjoy that process.”
As an educator Kim advises her students to take the time to tune into their chosen location before getting their cameras out. “I’ve picked up more from learning to read the light than from taking the photographs themselves,” she says. “I like to teach people to do this too, as we can miss opportunities if we’re looking through the lens all the time.
“I also recommend people get onto location in plenty of time, especially when shooting sunsets. The best light can sometimes happen earlier than people expect and, by the time they get there for actual sunset, they’ve missed it. The same goes for afterwards. I’ve regularly seen photographers pack up as soon as the sun dips below the horizon. On some days the show is only just starting!”
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