This series of articles on photography – or web journal, or blog – documents my evolving thoughts on photography and the photographic process, primarily covering the making of landscape images. I’ve written pieces on the making of specific images, favourite locations for photography, some technology topics, and many essays, or musings, on approaches to landscape photography: how to do things, when and with whom, and sometimes ‘why’. As I say, these are evolving thoughts, and I hope to see for myself how my views change as I develop as a photographer. I typically add a new post every one or two weeks, but sometimes they’re a little more frequent, and occasionally there may be a slightly longer gap between articles.
When making photographs, I primarily look for patterns in the landscape: unusual geometry, shapes, and graphic combinations of lines and textures. My inspiration also lies in capturing and interpreting those types of light which are less familiar. Currently, I create many of my landscape images when the Sun is either below the horizon or thoroughly hidden by cloud, revealing the subtlety of colours inherent within water, rock and foliage.
Having travelled widely, and been an active mountaineer on four continents, I am now keen to use my experience of the many forms of light I’ve seen to envisage and create photographs which capture the character of those wild landscapes, and I’m using photography as a reason to revisit favourite countries and locations.
My approach is to make images which show how I see the landscape, rather than to present an authentic copy of reality in the form of a photograph.
My location and other sites
I’m based in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, in the north of England. Some of my work may be viewed in the ‘Galleries’ section of this site or on my Flickr photo stream, both of which contain images from various photographic trips in the British Isles, other parts of Europe, and South America.
If you’d like to read about my capture and post-processing work-flow, there is an interview with me as ‘featured photographer’ in issue 19 of Great British Landscapes magazine.
I have an ongoing project to photograph the relatively little-known Howgill Fells, between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District and have a page dedicated to them.
Lastly, I take protecting my digital images, in the sense of not losing them due to error or equipment failure, pretty seriously and have a page describing my digital file protection approach.
My photographic equipment
I have a fairly limited quantity of photographic equipment. I’m sure I’ll acquire more – or, I hope, merely a different selection – as I progress, but I’ve read and learnt enough about photographic kit that I believe I have a reasonably good idea on what I could do if I did have access to different, or more, equipment, and hence can judge whether I ‘need it’ or not! Since much of my photography involves walking non-trivial distances whilst carrying said kit, the twin factors of bulk and weight are relatively important to me. As it is, I can and do take most of my equipment out every time I go looking for a photograph – if I had much more, that certainly wouldn’t be the case.
As important as having the kit, however, is knowing what can and can’t be done with it. Whilst I may not be able to capture the image I want with the tools I have right now, being able to recognise that is, in itself, useful. I’ve discussed that in an article on the importance of knowing about, whilst not necessarily possessing, ‘the right kit‘.
- Nikon D800E, with Really Right Stuff right-angle tripod clamp and Foolography Unleashed geo-tagging device. I like to know, without trying, where images were taken, and being able to clamp the camera in place vertically or horizontally, without moving the tripod head, is a surprisingly valuable ability. I also, very importantly, have a remote release, plus a spare, just in case.
- Nikon 24mm PC-E
- Nikon 45mm PC-E
- Nikon 50mm 1.8G
- Nikon 70-200mm f/4
- Singh-Ray neutral density graduated, in 2 and 3 stop, and each in soft and hard step
- Singh-Ray 4 stop neutral density
- Singh-Ray 3 stop reverse neutral density graduated
- Singh-Ray polariser
- B&W 10 stop neutral density
- I have a filter holder, but mostly attach the filters by means of two pieces of elastic around the camera body: quick, convenient, and no gap between filter and lens. Rather cheap too :-)
- Gizto 1541 mountaineer. Yes, I know lots of people consider this Gitzo series as too light, but if I had a heavier tripod, which I did initially, I know I’d be less likely to make the effort to get where I want to be, so it’s a compromise. In practice, I’ve not had any problem with stability so far, even in strong winds, when I’ve occasionally hung things from the tripod to stabilise it further.
- A device for correctly measuring and setting white balance when the camera is getting it ‘wrong’. I don’t use this often, but it does sometimes come in very useful when the light is ‘odd’ in some way and I need an accurate colour rendition.
- Light meter
- I use a Sekonic L558, primarily to measure light differences between ground and sky, to determine which ND grads to use. I also use it when my tilt/shift lens is significantly shifted, as the camera’s meter is inaccurate in that circumstance. That said, I often tend to just take a shot, examine the histogram, and dial in exposure compensation accordingly….. it’s quicker and easier!
- All sorts of microfibre cloths to keep things clean and dry ‘in the field’.
The following list is in the order I use software in my work-flow.
- Nikon Transfer
- As well as moving files from the SD card to the computer, I use this to rename incoming files to the format: Mike_Green_DATE_TIME. During the rest of the work-flow, files gain suffixes to indicate at which stage they were produced, and are stored in a directory structure based on capture date and status within the work-flow.
- Faststone Image Viewer
- I use Faststone as it has very good comparison capabilities and is excellent for checking sharpness and exposure and removing unwanted files. I also use it for reviewing output during the next stages.
- I add copious metadata identifying the subject matter in the RAW image files.
- DxO Optics Pro and DxO Filmpack
- Convert RAW to TIFF. This is the most important software element in my work-flow. I do most of my manipulation in here: correcting lens distortion; modifying overall lighting and exposure; often applying a ‘film look’ from DxO Filmpack’s wide range of calibrated looks; removing any noise; and adjusting colours occasionally. I tend to add film grain using Filmpack to most of my images as I like the effect this produces. No, it’s not real film, but it gives the images a certain ‘feel’ and I think it mostly enhances them.
- Photoshop CS6
- I use this purely for dodging and burning the images using layer masks and curves.
- Photokit Sharpener
- A Photoshop plug-in and an excellent means of performing capture and output sharpening, as well as ‘creative’ sharpening of numerous types, using masks.
- ExpoAperture disc
- This is a useful, circular device for working out depths of field for given apertures and lens focal lengths. Essentially, it’s an accurate way of working out the hyperfocal distance. In practice, I don’t often use it; instead, I generally estimate the distances then check on the screen, since I tend to use a relatively limited range of apertures and focal lengths and hence have a fairly good idea of the depth of field I’m going to see in the captured image. For those which are more tricky – meaning unfamiliar focal length / aperture combinations – I make use of it.
- PC-E lens tilt table
- This is invaluable! Essentially, this enables me to very quickly determine what angle of tilt I need on the PC-E lens to place the lens’ focal plane where I’d like it to be. Whilst it doesn’t remove the need for checking focus on the LCD screen, it does enable me to get very close without even looking at the screen. I’ve put a copy of this table, for my 24mm and 45mm PC-E lens, on a separate page.
That’s about it – rather a lot of ‘stuff’ when listed like that! Still, it’s a lot less than it could be, I’m sure, and at the moment I can fairly comfortably carry it all, so it meets that prime criterion nicely!
All images and text on this site are copyright Mike Green and are reusable for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons licence. Essentially, please attribute any usage to me, as the original source, and I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know if you do use any of the contents. I am also happy to discuss commercial usage following enquiry via email.
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