Theme and Variations

Canon EOS 5D MKIII, EF 24-105mm F4L IS USM (@40mm)
ISO 100, 1/10 sec. @F22, 0.6 ND grad, HDR image from 3 exposures, 9:45 p.m.

Most photographers dream of traveling to far-flung and exotic places where great images will presumably be served up on a golden platter. I'd argue, however, that many of the iconic landscape images we admire are often made in the photographer’s backyard - places that have become familiar to the photographer through months and years of conscious exploration.

In contrast to a faraway locale where you may only spend a few days in one spot, shooting closer to home affords you the time to learn the landscape's secrets like the best vantage point, season and time of day for shooting. Photography is first and foremost about seeing and interpretation. And with enough careful and consistent attention, you can discover amazing images to be made even in what (for you) may be the most ordinary of places.

My backyard: Loop Head, Ireland

Shortly after moving to Ireland I challenged myself to photograph the same location on a regular basis. This location - the one shown in all of these images - is called Loop Head and is just up the road from where I live. It's a headland in the very west of County Clare and the visual ingredients here are sky, ocean and a cliff face with some rocky islands and a natural rock arch. Over the years I have photographed the scene dozens of times, I think there are even some shots on slide film somewhere on the attic from my very first visit to the place some 20 years ago.

First attempt

This is the first photograph I made shortly after settling in the area. It is a good example of a bad landscape image! I didn’t know the area well enough back then to figure out the best conditions in which to capture the place, nor did I spend enough time to figure out a suitable composition. 

Sigma SD9, Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 (@ 92mm)
ISO 100, 1 sec., F32, 5:39 p.m.

In addition I made the rookie mistake of shooting in high winds with a long lens and a long exposure time. The result? An image that is slightly blurred.

A better attempt

After that disaster I started doing my homework. The cliffs of Loop Head face north which means they are in shadows most of the year. Only around midsummer does the sun set far enough to the northwest to cast some evening light onto these cliffs. To create the scene I had in mind, however, I would also need an interesting sky. Now I had a plan. One I would try to implement many times over the years.

One summer, after waiting for weeks, the sky one evening was everything I'd hoped for. Dramatic clouds unfortunately also have the tendency to block the light so this evening was all about waiting and hoping.

The image you see below was eventually captured minutes before sunset when light broke through a small gap in the clouds. I had planned to take advantage of strong early evening light in order to bring out more detail in the cliff face. As luck would have it though, the late evening light that finally broke through brought along very strong, warm colours which turned out to be what this particular interpretation of the scene is all about.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 17-40mm F4L USM (@ 38mm)
ISO 100, 8 sec., F20, 0.3 stop ND grad, 10:20 p.m.

Interestingly, this image was a bit of a compromise from the outset. I wanted to include the cliff face in the scene but I didn’t want to include a row of electricity poles that stand rather inconveniently on the cliff top so the right side of the picture looks a bit cramped while the left shows a lot of empty space. After a while, however, I warmed to this slightly rule defying approach. In fact, I know feel the empty space very much gives a sense of the place.

Variation 1

On another visit to Loop Head I wanted to emphasize the sense of space even more as well as illustrate a more autumnal feel. Although I used a medium focal length for the image below, the dominance of the sky provides the feeling of a wide-open space. The rather cool and subdued colour scheme as well as the slightly misty conditions in the distance help to convey a sense of a cool and damp autumn day.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, TS-E 45mm F2.8
ISO 100, 10 sec., F22, 0.6 stop ND grad and 0.6 stop ND, 8:51 a.m.

In autumn the sun rises in the southeast and for a short time casts some light on the land and parts of the cliffs. As there are no leading lines in this composition this light is integral to provide some kind of depth to the scene. Even more than in the first image the scene wouldn’t work without an interesting sky.

Finally to smoothen the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean a bit I increased the f-stop to 22 and used a ND filter to get a longer exposure time. If I would have frozen the swell with a short exposure time the soft autumnal feel of the image would have been lost.

Variation 2

On this occasion I was trying to see what the scene would be like on a summer morning. The vantage point is due east so I knew I would be shooting directly into the sun, which would normally mean a very wide range in contrast between cliffs and sky. But on this morning I was hoping that the fog would make the task manageable. Needless to say I didn’t expect this scene you see below! Loop Head lies slightly elevated to the rest of the peninsula but I didn’t expect this would have such an impact on how the scene would present itself.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, EF 70-200mm F2.8L USM (@ 85mm)
ISO 100, 10 sec., F22, 0.9 ND grad and 0.6 stop ND, 6:16 a.m.

At first I tried a similar composition as the previous image. The wide view however wasn't quite right, however. So I changed lenses and zoomed in. This image is about the contrast of the dark cliffs, the white fog flowing into the sea and the warm dawn colours in the sky. This tighter view isolates and focuses on these key elements. Again this composition breaks a major rule: The horizon line cuts the image in half and having 50% of an image consist of featureless sky isn’t exactly what you learn either. Here, however, it works very well.

The only thing left was to figure out the exposure time. After some test exposures, 10 seconds turned out to be perfect to blur the fog and emphasize its flow.

Variation 3

This final image was made recently during a spell of very stormy weather. I should say that standing on a north facing cliff top with gale force north-westerly winds (and gusts of 120km/h and more) is not necessarily a good idea! And using a long lens with a rather long exposure time in these conditions is an even worse idea. Unfortunately, this was the only way to achieve my goal: Focus on the rock arch and slightly blur the waves crashing through it.

Canon EOS 5D MKIII, EF 70-300mm F4-5.6L IS USM (@ 300mm)
ISO 50, 1/5 sec., F18, 5:16 p.m.

The composition here was very straightforward. I zoomed in on the cliff face and the rock arch and left a bit of room in the background to put the location into some context. Now all I needed was for a moment of calm wind and a monster wave crashing through the arch to occur at exactly the same moment.

I shot more than 300 frames in just over an hour and as you can imagine most of the shots were blurred because of the wind rattling at the 300mm lens during the 1/5 second exposure. In the end I was left with two keeper images. An added bonus in the one you see here is the spray coming over the back of the cliff. This is not sea spray from below but small streams running over the edge of the cliff into the sea. Or at least they would have run into the sea were it not for the winds. The fact that the updraft propels these streams straight into the air gives you an idea of the conditions I was shooting in that day.

Staying put

All the images in the article have been made from the same viewpoint, all that changed were lenses, seasons and weather conditions (and the experience of the photographer). Of course, over the years I have photographed the cliffs from other locations as well. I have walked up and down the coastline to find other ways of seeing and interpreting this place, sometimes with success and sometimes with not much to show for it. But I will keep going back. I know there are still some good images out there!

This is the latest article in Carsten's landscape photography series. Previous pieces include The DSLR Field Camera, Evolution of an Image, Landscape Photography Primer, Studio in the Wild and a Gura Gear backpack review.


Carsten Krieger is a professional landscape and wildlife photographer based in the West of Ireland and author of several books on the Irish landscape and nature, including his most recent title, Ireland's Coast. To find out more about his work please visit his website: www.carstenkrieger.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 96
mykelhussy
By mykelhussy (4 weeks ago)

I think that its a high definition camera result. All the images viewpoint is very good.I like such as images which is related to nature.

0 upvotes
serdarhappy
By serdarhappy (10 months ago)

Thanks for the article. Your camera is upgraded as well as your experience from the point I guess :)

0 upvotes
julianwieg
By julianwieg (10 months ago)

thank you

0 upvotes
mehran langari
By mehran langari (11 months ago)

very nice place

1 upvote
fanglotusflower
By fanglotusflower (Apr 23, 2013)

wow~~the photo are soooo amazing, thanks for sharing.
of course, i also lraen something form it. thanks again

0 upvotes
williamsteffe
By williamsteffe (Apr 18, 2013)

Nice article!! Check more themes here- http://www.123videomagic.com/background_image_pack.asp

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Michele Kappa
By Michele Kappa (Mar 22, 2013)

Nice article!
By the way, would you mind, ehmmm, exchanging back yards with me?!? :D

0 upvotes
Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Mar 19, 2013)

No. These are dull, uninteresting images. They're not even at the level of postcard shots and there's no progression from the first to the last. He would have spent his time more profitably if he'd invested in a telescope and shot the night sky instead. From the same vantage point.

Looking at his website I see a pervading blandness, and I can't shake the impression that after standing in the cold and wet for an hour the photographer was unwilling to admit to himself that the concept was flawed and the images worthless.

0 upvotes
Michele Kappa
By Michele Kappa (Mar 22, 2013)

Troll alert! :(

4 upvotes
scooper1
By scooper1 (Mar 23, 2013)

Right on, Ashley. I'd rate almost all of these 'throw away".

0 upvotes
greatLee
By greatLee (Apr 13, 2013)

It bothers me that people would call these throw away. Let the article's point speak. Yes, we all would just love to be as good as your criticism's insist...
Perhaps your the reason I believe photographers to be a jealous group of people, who can't wait to look down their noses at the novice. Maybe its because anyone can pick up a camera.:(

1 upvote
KnightPhoto2
By KnightPhoto2 (Mar 14, 2013)

The fog one was the killer shot for me. Great article, thanks!
(and I didn't mind your "failed" first attempt either ;-) )

1 upvote
tintti
By tintti (Mar 12, 2013)

dxxn, I think the first one is the only beautiful one if it gives a little bit space to sky, :-)

0 upvotes
solidstate9
By solidstate9 (Mar 11, 2013)

the first visit captured the geology/stratigraphy of these cliffs beautifully and i want a bit more sky to balance the water<) bland is in the eye of the beholder

1 upvote
marty golin
By marty golin (Mar 11, 2013)

Whether it be a "pretty" landscape nearby, an( sub)urban area, or even one's home, re-evaluating a scene (or series thereof) over time brings a fuller, more detailed analysis/appreciation for what was (usually) there in the 1st place, but we simply did not see it. Doing this enough assists when confronting any new scene, to better appreciate what's there faster.

0 upvotes
dennishancock
By dennishancock (Mar 10, 2013)

Great article! Let's have more.

0 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Mar 10, 2013)

It's a worthy idea, but it would me more helpful if it were illustrated with a more common location - like an urban or suburban setting.

2 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (Mar 10, 2013)

The title of this article is about variations on a theme, not necessarily landscape, yet almost all of the responses are about landscape photography. The theme of any 'art' is not necessarily the subject either, it's usually the 'message' in which ever form that may be.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
SergioNevermind
By SergioNevermind (Mar 9, 2013)

An inspiring thread.

A great advantage of shooting close to your home or work place is that you can go to the desired place at ther right time, meaning the right light.

Difficult or not posible to do when travelling.

0 upvotes
chris_j_l
By chris_j_l (Mar 9, 2013)

Aside from the fact that Loop Point is a European Destination of Excellence - an award given to areas of outstanding beauty, the author stretches the definition of back yard so thin it's meaningless. He lives in Kilrush. If Loop Point is in the back yard of Kilrush, then Glasgow is in the back yard of Edinburgh.

1 upvote
Nerdlinger
By Nerdlinger (Mar 11, 2013)

Aren't you being a bit dramatic? Sure it's not his "backyard", but looks like a short drive. You both are guilty of overstating. I do agree with you it's not his backyard, but it's a hell of a lot closer than your Glasgow to Edinburgh example.

0 upvotes
Mister J
By Mister J (Mar 11, 2013)

It's about a half-hour drive, so reasonably 'back yard' I would say.

Variation 2 a beautiful shot, though from a technical perspective I would like to have seen a shot taken at (say) 1/60 sec, just to see the difference that the long exposure time made.

0 upvotes
chris_j_l
By chris_j_l (Mar 12, 2013)

@Nerdlinger - It takes me 32 mins to drive from Glasgow to Edinburgh. According to Google it takes 28 mins to drive from Kilrush to Loop Point Head and then you have a walk.

I never realized you felt 4 minutes was drama.

0 upvotes
JoeThePawsMan
By JoeThePawsMan (Mar 13, 2013)

I certainly wouldn't say a half hour's drive was anything like "back yard". But that's beside the point. As far as I can tell he doesn't live in Kilrush but in Kilbaha, which is 5 or 6 km from Loop Head, so surely very definitely back-yard-ish.

0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (Mar 9, 2013)

Lucky me. I live in a beautiful town. I have cosmopolitan scenes at my disposal, nice beaches, and even a hint of rural landscapes. It allows me most kinds of photography, from street scenes to long coastal exposures, without the expense of travelling. I know exactly what Mr. Krieger is talking about.
Those who keep complaining their hometown is uninteresting should look harder. After all, as Garry Winogrand put it, "everything is photographable".

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
blue camera
By blue camera (Mar 9, 2013)

"Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed." - Garry Winogrand

Other quotes by Garry Winogrand:

http://www.photoquotes.com/showquotes.aspx?id=22

1 upvote
Teru Kage
By Teru Kage (Mar 9, 2013)

Another thought on shooting familiar locales: do it sooner than later. Dont' take for granted that things will never change. There are so many places in my city that I'm glad I captured on film - and many that I regret not doing so - because they've either changed or are now gone.

5 upvotes
Five Piece
By Five Piece (Mar 9, 2013)

Lovey article, Carsten. Thank you for sharing your insights. True, most often the very best landscapes are captured by locals. It does take time, study perseverance and absolutely insight to get that unique moment in time and place captured to create an image that transcends into the realm of art.

4 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Mar 8, 2013)

One more comment for the naysayers: have you seen the FIRST picture that he took? How bland it was, even though he was at a beautiful place?

Also, let's not forget: once you live at a certain place, everything looks trivial TO YOU. But to others, it may seem very cool and different.

Ok, it may be a bit harder (perhaps even more dangerous) getting nice shots at a suburban place. But it is doable. And the same rule "get to know your own place" still apply. I wish I had the discipline to do that exercise. It'd surely pay off, even in my urban "uninteresting" surroundings.

5 upvotes
Tlipp
By Tlipp (Mar 8, 2013)

Well said neo........and thank you Mr. Krieger.

1 upvote
nunatak
By nunatak (Mar 9, 2013)

i don't think anyone is arguing suburbia is not doable. what one might take issue with is what lessons have been learned by illustrating this point from the perspective of a target rich environment that can pretty well sell itself?

2 upvotes
StayClassy
By StayClassy (Mar 8, 2013)

There's a major flaw with this exercise; he lives in a beautiful area. Some of us live in urban settings where things are generally disgusting to look at, and while we can capture the "urban jungle", you'll most likely get punched in the face.

2 upvotes
Bob Tullis
By Bob Tullis (Mar 8, 2013)

Maybe flawed thinking. If your locale is that dangerous or not suitable for your photographic sensibilities, expand the range and pick any site you'd return to more than once. You know that phrase? Making something extraordinary out of the ordinary. . . that can be done anywhere if one is open to the possibilities.

The hardest thing for me is to find compelling photographs in the city w/o wanting to engage and pursue the popular street candids. Entropy is an innate attraction, but where that most often is found safety is a conflicting concern. I've done the landmarks to death. It takes blind determnation to go out there with no objective to see if something will reveal itself. Some outings never give cause to press shutter, even once. I just tell myself I needed the walk anyway. But when passing something that inspires opening the bag for the camera, I surprise myself with what I never realized was right there all along.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (Mar 9, 2013)

I understand your point, but that shouldn't detract you from looking harder for nice scenes.
I live in a city too, and I always find something interesting to photograph. One of the things I like to do is grabbing my camera with a roughly 50mm equivalent lens and take casual pictures of places I see in my day-to-day routines. I'm often surprised at the photographic potential of places which I tend to ignore because I see them everyday. Why don't you try doing something of the kind? Chances are you might enjoy the experience!

0 upvotes
atlien991
By atlien991 (Mar 9, 2013)

My takeaway from this article is that knowing your subject is what matters. Most photographers (not all) that are serious enough to end up on this website reading a somewhat technical and somewhat esoteric article like this, most of us, aren't from the urban jungle and that's the point. We don't know our subject. Not knowing your subject in that case, is what gets you punched in the face or worse.

As a Black boy born and raised in downtown Atlanta, I constantly try to explain to my middle class white photog friends that they MUST know their photog subjects and watching TV (alone) won't suffice for our situation. You have to go there, be there and stay to learn it.

Interesting images abound.

1 upvote
Madaboutpix
By Madaboutpix (Mar 8, 2013)

A lucidly written, instructively illustrated, and generally stimulating article. Fun, too, precisely *because* the author's backyard happens to be this fascinating strip of the Irish coast. (I am not saying here that a scrapyard cannot yield arresting photographs - there is often beauty in decay.) And the point made in the article is certainly valid: knowing your subject will likely pay off. As long as you don't let your "research" restrict your view, we might perhaps add. And whenever you can, take the time to get to know, to explore your subject further. Sounds like another home truth to me, and is sure true for my own photography. Maybe it's just me, but I fail to see what could be so controversial about this article ...

3 upvotes
zkz5
By zkz5 (Mar 8, 2013)

I agree with the article since most of my own best images were taken close to where I live... something I didn't notice until recently. However I have to say, you have a hell of a back yard.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Mar 8, 2013)

It's true that with enough determination you can manage a good photo almost anywhere, under any conditions. My question is, why? If the subject is not appealing enough to grab you, unless you are a photo student, why bother? Maybe this question made more sense when there was a cost associated with film and processing. Photographers in Chicago had a saying "We shoot in the summer and print in the winter".

Maybe DPR could have a photo contest for the best outdoor photo in Dayton, Ohio, in January. Or Gary, Indiana. That would be a serious challenge. Somebody would do it, too!

0 upvotes
zkz5
By zkz5 (Mar 8, 2013)

DigitalRevTV does shows where they give a pro photographer a dirt cheap camera and see what he can do. I'd love to see something like that but with a pro photographer plopped down in the middle of Suburbia, USA.

0 upvotes
Lawriegr
By Lawriegr (Mar 8, 2013)

neo-nights is so correct. It seems like many photo geeks go negative very quickly instead of reading for what they might learn and possibly grow from these posted articles. Like this one, I find most of the articles valuable to expanding my awareness and becoming more attentive to the little things that lead to satisfying photo outcomes. Thanks DPReview for sharing Carsten's work and approach.

7 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Mar 8, 2013)

I think people are missing the MAIN point of the article: GET TO KNOW YOUR SUBJECT!

This article's tips can be easily transferred for any other kind of photography. Portrait photographers who get to know their models. Sports photographers who get to know the sport, the location and the athletes they're photographing. Street photography, when you know which time is best to get some pictures (better lighting, more/less people around) and so on.

This article is great and people should open their minds a bit more instead of b*tching "Oh, it's so easy to say those thing when you have a beautiful scenario so close from home".

3 upvotes
leno
By leno (Mar 8, 2013)

Yes but if your subject looks like that you are on bonus points already.

3 upvotes
caimi
By caimi (Mar 8, 2013)

Not bitching, just pointing out that the author's backyard just happens to be one of those far flung exotic locales that photographers seek out. Perhaps if he lived in a trailer park abutting a scrap yard the article would better illustrate its point.

6 upvotes
FranKois
By FranKois (Mar 9, 2013)

You are right, the artistic quality of an image does not depend of the subject, but depends of the talent of the photografer.
In front of the same object in the backyard, the camera user just see what he is used to see, while the talented photographer senses an other realty.
Every one of us has carpet and apple, but no one has painted those as Cezanne.
It is a long way to talent and unfortunately, for me, never will be reached, but we may try, following the lessons given by artists as Mr Krieger.
By the way Mr. Krieger underlined the necessity to take time to see and observe. This is in full compliance with his exposition times.

1 upvote
dboeren
By dboeren (Mar 8, 2013)

It's a great topic, but I think the article would make its point better if it demonstrated the variety and interest you could make out of a more ordinary location. Does the author perhaps also have a more plain scene near his home that can show us some different shots of?

5 upvotes
kidkelly
By kidkelly (Mar 8, 2013)

Boring

0 upvotes
racenviper
By racenviper (Mar 8, 2013)

You offer only one word? The only activty you have left in DPReview is a single word "Boring". Your particpation here is exactly this "Boring"

0 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Mar 8, 2013)

And with that one boring word he managed to grab your attention ;)

2 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Mar 9, 2013)

Some of us read the comments. A buffoon calling "boring" will be noticed. Wish I hadn't because the article, and the photographs, are excellent. I live in a photogenic locale and this gives me some ideas.

0 upvotes
caimi
By caimi (Mar 8, 2013)

Beautiful images but the premise of the article - you don't have to travel to far flung, scenic places to get fabulous photos - reminds me of the old Steve Martin joke:

How To Become a Millionaire

First: Get a million dollars.

7 upvotes
VidJa
By VidJa (Mar 8, 2013)

Excellent article Carsten,

being bound to my home town without serious transport (I don't even own a car these days) I've taken up the challenge to take a lot of photos 'half an hour from home'.
Fortunately the hills are about 25 minutes by bike so that's where some of my favourite shots are taken.

This first one was taken with a 3MP coolpix early 2005
http://www.vidja.nl/photo/6/600.jpg

I returned later with my D50, which I still enjoy (no money to buy a new cam)
http://www.vidja.nl/photo/15/600.jpg
http://www.vidja.nl/photo/16/600.jpg
http://www.vidja.nl/photo/17/600.jpg

A year later I took this one
http://www.vidja.nl/photo/126/600.jpg

with a small variation
http://www.vidja.nl/photo/127/600.jpg

I plan to return to the spot in a few weeks when work allows.

Thus, I fully support Carsten. To all those people saying that there is nothing to photograph in their neighborhood I would say, walk around with an open mind and wonder why you have been 'blind' all those years.

Vid

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
racketman
By racketman (Mar 8, 2013)

lovely images, not the most obviously promising area so light is everything.

0 upvotes
jonak2
By jonak2 (Mar 8, 2013)

echo that, you have some lovely pictures.
I liked photo 22 particularly
http://www.vidja.nl/photo/15/600.jpg

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
FranKois
By FranKois (Mar 9, 2013)

Congratulation for yr pictures, you really picked the light.

0 upvotes
atlien991
By atlien991 (Mar 10, 2013)

Love your contribution. Thank you.

0 upvotes
jadmaister2
By jadmaister2 (Mar 8, 2013)

The closer you look, the more you see. Who could claim to 'see' who can't find interest within 1 meter of where they are sitting now. It's not the landscape that limits us, it's the depth of our imagination and the apparent inability to observe that holds us back.
I admire this article, but life is much easier than that if you just think about it for a bit.

3 upvotes
Cartagena Photo
By Cartagena Photo (Mar 8, 2013)

I totally agree

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Mar 8, 2013)

Yeah, just pretend every locale resembles the shore at County Clare? Sancho, thos aren't condos, dry cleaners, gas stations, power lines, and fast food joints along the road. They're enchanted leprechaun cottages!

1 upvote
salla30
By salla30 (Mar 8, 2013)

I live in an area of outstanding natural beauty, (pple stop all the time to take snaps of the scene from the bottom of our drive) and actually it's a breath of fresh air to get away and get to a place described by Cy Cheze - wherever one lives, one can get jaded by the familiar, however pretty it may be to others. Agree with jadmaister2 on this.

0 upvotes
jr
By jr (Mar 8, 2013)

I've also discovered that most of my good photos are taken within 10 km radius of my home. It seems that I visit the same places quite often and by doing that I'm able to catch scenes with various lighting conditions. I have also traveled quite a bit, but the images from these trips serve mostly as reminders that I've "been there, seen that"... not able to spend enough time on a location to really manage to capture captivating images. As an example, I have a small gallery at
500px.com/ruusnak
quite a few of the pics are from the Helsinki area, taken on the coast, 7 km from my home

0 upvotes
luben solev
By luben solev (Mar 8, 2013)

I have to agree with the article. The best photos I've taken have been in the UK, especially Dorset, which is 1.5-2 hours drive away from home and thus doable as a day trip. Having been to a lot of places in the US, Europe and Asia to photograph, it is the home photos that stand out the most.

Coming to the same place over and over again gives you a chance to experience different weather conditions, seasons, etc.

But it also allows you to go beyond the often done compositions and start experimenting. after all, the best photographers in the world get renouned for the unique places/compositions they create.

Nobody has become a world-renowned photographer by photographing the Houses of Parliament from County Hall (insider joke for any London-based photogs) :-)

2 upvotes
FriendlyWalkabout
By FriendlyWalkabout (Mar 8, 2013)

I find it amusing that people complain "I don't have 'THAT' subject on my door step." When I am away it's the diverse beauty of my Australian home I miss. However I have never found a place where I did not see potential images that could inspire me within only a short walking distance of a hotel or toilet stop on the road etc. My feet have found most of my favorite shots. Always what has limited me most has been my 'attitude', not the equipment, shooting conditions or location.

Comment edited 15 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Brad Mitchell
By Brad Mitchell (Mar 8, 2013)

I agree with the author. I am lucky enough to travel quite a bit. But quite often, whenever I'm photographing a scene while on travel, I think of the huge advantage the local photographers have over me. They can keep coming back to these wonderful scenes in whatever weather or season they like. While they have the freedom to pursue the ideal conditions, I can only be there for a day, or two if I'm lucky. I often only have one chance, one sunrise, and have to make the best out of it as I can. And conditions are not be ideal the vast majority of the time.

Whenever I thinking that, I also reminding myself to reverse that logic and remember how important it is to be one of those lucky locals when I'm back home on my own turf ... with the opportunity to be at a place under its ideal conditions.

So, I have just pulled out my Washington State Atlas & Gazetteer and drawn a 20 mile radius around my house. Now, let's see what I've got here ...

Cheers,
Brad Mitchell
www.bradmitchellphoto.com

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Mike Sandman
By Mike Sandman (Mar 8, 2013)

Some of the comments here have the theme, "Well, sure, you can do that because of where you live, but I live in... [some supposedly dull place].

Rubbish.

There are opportunities all around us. Kids playing in those "scrubby suburban parks"; the river, harbor and Long Island Sound in New London, CT., etc. Really, anywhere you live, there's a place to practice the lessons of the article. There's a garden or a grove of trees or a pond you can examine.

What the article teaches is that you have to spend the time understanding the environment in order to photograph it well, whether it's the picturesque west coast of Ireland or the streets of Peoria.

7 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (Mar 8, 2013)

Quite true, we get dull to the wonder of where we live. But everywhere is exotic to someone else. I bet there's people in Egypt who would be amazed by Barnsley.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 8, 2013)

If you're referring to my comments, I think you missed the point. I didn't say that there are no photographic opportunities where I live. I was commenting on the premise of the article that "often there are great landscape opportunities in your backyard".

When you look at the author's "backyard" - the cliffs of Ireland, isn't it obvious that I was simply stating that not all backyards are created equal for landscape photography?

Obviously the authors skill are big factors in his images, but not all subjects are equally dramatic or appropriate for such images. If you have power lines, cars, and urban clutter, then it's not always a simple matter of seeing creativity to make your "backyard" into an impressive image.

4 upvotes
pinwheel
By pinwheel (Mar 8, 2013)

If I lived there, I might just shoot close to home too! Where I live, you can choose from warehouses, suburbia, or at best, a few scrubby parks.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 8, 2013)

My point exactly.

0 upvotes
racenviper
By racenviper (Mar 8, 2013)

Maybe you need to travel a bit to get there. The author comment on traveling I took as those that would fly from NY to Yosemite for that perfect image. I have travel in Michigan to many places. One day I was on the Lake Michigan coast in Muskegon to catch the moon setting and that evening on the coast of Lake Huron in Lexington to watch it rise. My backyard is those places in a day travel. Even in Flint, MI I have found many interesting places to photograph.

0 upvotes
nawknai
By nawknai (Mar 8, 2013)

This is like a rich guy suggesting that poor people just earn more money.

I grew up in the 'burbs.

I live in the city now, so I can try some street photography, but landscape photography is on hold until my next vacation.

12 upvotes
morepix
By morepix (Mar 8, 2013)

I second that, a whole lot. Is that's what's called "condescending"?

0 upvotes
Lajos Hajdu
By Lajos Hajdu (Mar 8, 2013)

I disagree. I live in a city (Budapest). But if you can afford a car and a few hours' traveling, you can take photos like the following. These are all within 100 km of Budapest. You just have to take some time and effort to explore your region. You can even do that on the Internet (photo communities help). And online weather reports help a lot. My photos below may not be great but they illustrate my point.
http://www.pbase.com/laja30/image/148132528
http://www.pbase.com/laja30/image/148228766
http://www.pbase.com/laja30/image/148093772

5 upvotes
lesnapanda
By lesnapanda (Mar 8, 2013)

If I'd buy a car, I couldn't afford a camera. Also don't have a driving license LOL ;) But when living in a city, there is a chance you can make "city-landscapes" kind of pictures. Of course - photos like those shown in the article are completely out of reach.

0 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (Mar 8, 2013)

But the city is a landscape.

I often get an early train into London and take photos of the rising sun over empty streets, all you need is a landmark at a time of day no one else ever sees and you have a great photo.

Stop making excuses for your lack of imagination. Everywhere is exotic to somebody.

2 upvotes
migus
By migus (Mar 8, 2013)

Lajos: I very much enjoyed your compositions from
http://www.pbase.com/laja30/inbox
Kudos!

However, your proposal to drive a few hours for those shots is hardly feasible for many of us (working long hours and WEs, with demanding families etc.). Also means not having much choice of light and meteo, as i do in my backyard where i can shoot in pijamas just before sunrise, e.g., https://picasaweb.google.com/104896643939448365565/OurVeryBestSwissFall?noredirect=1
https://picasaweb.google.com/mgusat/MistyAlbiswald?noredirect=1

Net: Carsten is privileged to call that place home! And so am I on Albispass (except my missing photog skills). Mitch

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
nawknai
By nawknai (Mar 8, 2013)

Well, I didn't say that if I drive 100 km away, I couldn't find something worth photographing. I could easily take beautiful landscape photos in a myriad of places.

I used to live within 10 minute walk of several beaches (and just 1 minute from the ocean). Guess what? Lots of photos of the same subject, and without being prompted by any article.

Heck, maybe I should have written an article proclaiming how easy it is. ;)

I don't live within an hour walk from anything that wouldn't be considered street photography.

If you didn't literally mean "the same subject at different angles" (i.e. the same city, but not necessarily the same building or street), which I'm fairly sure you did imply, then I've already done so with street photography.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
blue camera
By blue camera (Mar 9, 2013)

Folks, he's using his personal experience as an example of looking, returning, looking again, trying different things, all from the same spot. It's really not about how beautiful or accessible that spot may be: it's about EXPLORING from the brain/eye outward. Live in the city but want nature? Go to a park, go macro in a planter box. Live in the country but want gritty cityscapes? Shoot a junkyard, mechanics' shops, and the liquor store. Look around your world. What do you see? What aren't you seeing that someone else would?

0 upvotes
nunatak
By nunatak (Mar 8, 2013)

very nice artist studies. as a visitor, it's so easy just to succumb to the local cliches. i have found one doesn't really get to know a place well, until they've lived and photographed it through at least one full set of seasons, storms, and celestial cycles. these studies are of significant benefit to your portfolio.

that said, i agree with the comment that "minutes from home" is a poor way to describe this effort. it doesn't do justice to the challenges a photographer faces in an urban setting, shooting just one room in a house, or restrained from the roofline, so that each perspective is much greater than the elements inside it. you deserve to be commended for allowing yourself to experiment and reinvent the windows in time to this wondrous and powerful ecosystem you are blessed to live near. good luck finishing this project. :)

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 8, 2013)

When shooting "minutes from your home" means dramatic cliffs in Loop Head, Ireland, then yes, I suppose you don't need to travel to far and exotic lands for find interesting subjects. If you live near the Long Island Sound in NY, or some New England town, say New London, CT, I'd say the work of making compelling landscapes "in your own backyard" gets dramatically more difficult.

Where the author lives looks like paradise for a landscape photographer, you could literally shoot the same scene in different seasons, with different light, treatments, and focal lengths, and you'd never run out compelling things to shoot.

Beautiful images, and interesting article. Bravo, and thanks very much.

12 upvotes
dieseltojo
By dieseltojo (Mar 8, 2013)

Totally agree,Nice article for cliff dwellers,unrealistic to most folk though.

7 upvotes
Jude McDowell
By Jude McDowell (Mar 8, 2013)

As a cliff dweller I thoroughly enjoyed the article; now to set the alarm for early morning...

2 upvotes
Lajos Hajdu
By Lajos Hajdu (Mar 8, 2013)

Again: are you sure that there are no great landscape photo opportunities within, say, 50 miles of a New England town? Places you can get to within an hour by car?

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 8, 2013)

Of course there are great landscape/seascape opportunities in the New Englad, or along the Long Island Sound and I agree with the premise of the article, but my point was saying "there are great landscape opportunities right in your own backyard" also means there are varying degrees of "great". And the cliffs of Ireland or the views in Big Sur or Yosemite might be a bit more dramatic as "backyards" go.

0 upvotes
Chez Wimpy
By Chez Wimpy (Mar 8, 2013)

I moved to a national park precisely to get this kind of "backyard" and after three years I am starting to think I have gotten the hang of landscape photography (my previous photography life was indoor "street"). If I didn't live right here, it would be nigh on impossible to get masterpiece conditions by chance. When the light is right, I don't have to resort to ND filters, or anything more than basic PS (and a PL filter on sunny days)... but waiting for that light, the season, the right amount of blooming flowers/fallen snow... it literally takes years - and a lot of luck. Where I live, nobody else has bothered to do this seriously, and that "untold story" is a large part of my compulsion (as it was in my last photographic pursuit).

2 upvotes
FriendlyWalkabout
By FriendlyWalkabout (Mar 8, 2013)

I would love to see some of your work Chez

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Mar 8, 2013)

Long Island? Nice view of Stony Brook harbor. Rent only $6k / month. Check realty listings.

But who says Hicksville isn't scenic? Lots of decaying industrial lots. Vintage 1950s housing, updated with vinyl siding, satellite dishes, and lawn ornaments. Convenient shopping. Diners serve good coffee. No opportunity for "Memphis tricycle," though, since trikes are out of fashion.

0 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Mar 9, 2013)

Many photographers have done terrific work in rundown neighborhoods and small towns. Uniform newish suburbia is more challenging, but small towns are endlessly fascinating.

0 upvotes
blue camera
By blue camera (Mar 9, 2013)

@Marike6 -
You might find Dan Juraks's blog interesting for inspiration on shooting locally with "non-dramatic" scenes. He gets down in the roadside ditches, uses whatever foreground elements he can find, and sometimes shows what he has "cropped out" of his viewpoint.
http://danjurak.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/shooting-landscapes-in-your-own-backyard-literally/

0 upvotes
Luke1
By Luke1 (Mar 9, 2013)

Damn straight. I live in CT, go to school in another northeastern city, and it's very difficult to find worthwhile places for landscape photos. We have some traprock ridges out here but they're pretty uninteresting; we have the Taconics which can be nice, but they're an hour or so away for most, and don't have many interesting features. The only way you're going to find really dramatic natural wonders in the northeast is go to the Adirondacks (esp. High Peaks), the White Mountains, the northern Greens, Maine coast/lakes, or Baxter, and a few other isolated peaks. IMO many of these places could stand up to the wonders out West. But unfortunately these are all hours away.

0 upvotes
Pati Feroolz
By Pati Feroolz (Mar 8, 2013)

dpreview should really do something about this 520 pixel wide pictures. i use the site at 150% magnification put pictures look terrible.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 8, 2013)

Click on each image to open the larger size in a new browser tab.

They look wonderful on my computer. Good luck.

1 upvote
Colin Stuart
By Colin Stuart (Mar 8, 2013)

No crap sherlock. You're magnifying those same small pictures by 150%... not loading the full high res pic and making it smaller. Magnifying the page will make those pictures look even more terrible compared to normal.

0 upvotes
backayonder
By backayonder (Mar 8, 2013)

I read somewhere that if you can't take a decent picture where you live then you can't take one anywhere. Stands to reason when you think about it.

1 upvote
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Mar 9, 2013)

I've been thinking about a project of just what I can see from my windows. OK, I'm lucky. I live in the middle of San Francisco and have views in three directions, all somewhat interesting. But I can remember life in the burbs and there were always interesting sights.

0 upvotes
Greg VdB
By Greg VdB (Mar 8, 2013)

Very nice write-up Carsten, and I definitely agree that landscape photography benefits greatly from familiarity with and easy acces to a certain area. Whilst travelling, one depends highly on luck, even if the 'luck' can be aided by good preparations like early rising. In a way though that makes it all the more satisfying when one comes away with a stunning shot from a one-time visit to a certain spot!

From your images, the shot taken at the first visit is definitely the least inviting. Personally I'm not a fan of HDR-looking images, so the one on top of the page isn't exactly a favourite either, but all the other pictures were well worth a second and a third look to me. The one with the mist is even one of my all-time favourite landscape shots!

2 upvotes
Irata
By Irata (Mar 12, 2013)

Totally agree! The first shot actually made me want to NOT read on and close the browser window... "ah, ok, HDR again, boring" – close window.

The sea in that first picture is easily 1 stop darker on the left. OK, with a gradient mask, but: whilst some people might not believe it or see this: the human eye DOES pick up on gradients.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 96