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Top Tips from Charlie Waite

Posted on 6th March 2015

Charlie was recently interviewed about our Lake District tour, and you may already have seen our longer pieces on this - have a look at  Part 1 and Part 2 in the news section of our website.

As a result of the conversation, we identified some of his key views on landscape photography, which you may already have heard if you've been on a Light & Land tour! We thought they might be helpful for any aspiring landscape photographers, especially if you've not had a chance to read the full articles:

1. Go to the same place at different times of day

It's important to experience different lighting conditions, and to see the way that light is reflected and absorbed by different surfaces. Where the light is coming from. How is the scene lit and how do the elements inter-relate? Look at the component parts and evaluate them, and then make a decision as to what type of image you want to end up with. You need to have a love affair with light - because it's pivotal to the whole photographic experience. So it's really important that you make the most of all different times of day.

2. Concentrate as you approach a new location

As you walk towards where you're eventually going to set up - walk in silence, and don't be nattering away, if you're with a companion. You need to really absorb and drink in the landscape, and not be separated from it by human conversation, which would break up the relationship. Look and absorb, and think about where you are, and the different variables - reflections on water, the personality of the sky and the clouds. Is it going to complement or conflict with the land beneath? Look at the contrast range and the definition of the light on the landscape, and start to create the image in your mind.

3. Pre-visualise the image, and don't compromise

Defining the objective and pre-visualising the image in your consciousness is essential. Then you can produce an image that has parity with the objective that you defined - hoping it doesn't depart too much from what you saw, and that you are not forced to tolerate too many compromises. If you're standing there, and you accept an also-ran, you'll get back an image that testifies to all of the compromises that you made and it will give you no joy whatsoever. It's actually better to walk away and say, "No, I made a conscious decision not to do that."

4. Make images with filters look natural

Use filters where necessary and know why you are using them. To me, the ideal is to produce a photograph that people don't question, in terms of technique or the tools used. And the potential problem with using filters is that their use can be very conspicuous if you're not careful. I really think that the aim is to end up with a creative image, which people think is wonderful - but they don't think about the technique. They just see this marvellous image, and then they don't question the way it was done.

5. When it comes to sky, sometimes you just have to wait

Sky is a fascinating subject. As photographers we need to be very aware of all the elements that go into the creation of a landscape photograph, in the same way that a painter would. So when you've got a fair wind, more often than not you find yourself in a situation where you're looking up, and you can see the way in which a new cloud configuration may arrive, which will suit your purpose better than the one that prevails at the time. So sometimes you have to be patient, and just wait for the sky to evolve and change character.

6. Don't over saturate your images

In post production, if your photograph is oversaturated, then the viewer may be suspect of the image. Don't underestimate how discerning the eye and the brain are. They will say "No, I'm not having this, I've never seen a blue like that, and I never will!" The photographer has just gone past the acceptable, just pushed it too far - and that has broken the relationship between the viewer and the image. And anyway, natural colours are pretty lovely. Go and work with them.

7. Print your images

A print is the best finale for all that investment, for all that time you spent capturing an image.

The relationship between the viewer and the image I think is best achieved and maximised by the viewer looking at it on a wall. That's why, when we're planning our print exhibition at The Mall Galleries, we're not talking about selling images, we're talking about individual people coming and looking at the prints on the wall. It's fascinating to see what people say, and how they react to the images. It can be very revealing for the photographer.

8. Never underestimate the power in a shutter click

I always encourage people to see the camera as a massively creative device, and not just a tool to record what you see in a very practical way. A photograph can evoke an experience in a very special way. When you press the shutter you may well think it is just a little modest click, but actually it's a huge event. All that preparation, all that consideration and investment in time is sweeping towards you through the lens and onto the sensor or onto the film - and in there it's secure, forever! It's a massive thing that's happened. It's not just a photograph. 

Post By Charlie Waite

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