Top Tips for Perfect Landscapes 3
- Written by John Hooton
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This is my last article in the current series. Do remember everything I say is only my opinion! I have decided to talk a little bit about printing, however this is quite difficult as it really needs to be a more "hands on" approach . It is easier when I can show people the different types of paper I use and the way paper can affect how an image appears. The following is my experience in how I handle my printing.
Printing is the final stage. Having gone to a lot of trouble capturing the image it is worth taking your time in the printing stage. Being in control is probably the best way and it can be a bit of a nightmare which paper to choose. Apart from the brand of the paper you also have to consider the type of paper. I recently attended a lecture and was very disappointed with the images shown. Having seen the photographers work on-line I was looking forward to seeing the images first hand. However, they were completely let down by the print quality. The photographer delighted in informing me that they could get images printed for 98c each. So go back to the old adage quality is better than quantity.
I personally use the Permajet range of papers. They have almost 40 various types of paper in their range from Matt to Lustre and from Gloss to Art papers. So, where do you start? Depending on the type of photography you do, there is a paper available to suit your needs. You can buy test packs and experiment but I also recommend going to the IPF Print competitions especially the IPF National Club Finals. Here you will see an extensive range of photography on the boards using all different types of papers. Spend some time studying these and the effect the paper has on them and I'm sure if you can identify the authors they would be more than happy to tell you what paper they used.
For my own type of photography landscape/seascape I have been slowly experimenting with different papers and have narrowed it down to seven or eight papers that I believe suit my images. I've selected seven images using seven different types of paper below to try to help illustrate further.
I printed this on Permajet Oyster. Oyster is a general all round paper with texture and finish. It works both for colour and monochrome images. It is very reasonably priced and is good for a wide variety of images. It has a nice lustre finish.
I have found that this type of image works best on Permajet Distinction Paper. This triple weighted paper is heavy fibre based and provides an almost 3D quality to your images. Also very good for monochrome images.
I have tried this particular image on Permajet Smooth Pearl. It has a luxurious pearl lustre finish and gives lovely exhibition quality prints. This resin coated paper is finished witha UV protective microporous supercoat giving it a high degree of water and fade resistance.
'Less is More'
This is printed on Portrait White, probably my favourite paper and I use this paper quite extensively. It's an Art Paper with a very slight texture and a nice warm tone. It is very suitable for pastel type images such as this. This paper is also excellent for portraiture.
Permajet Fibre Based Gold Silk is a paper I have just begun using and I really like this paper. It is a smooth paper with a lovely warm lustre finish. Excellent for presenting your monochrome images to their full glory.
Smooth Art Silk by Permajet is one I only use occasionally. I find that only certain images work on this one. It gives prints an extra bite and sparkle. If you are looking for a paper with a difference then this is for you. Suitable for creative art, wildlife and landscape.
For this image I used Permajet Papyrus. This is a rough textured paper which gives the image character. Used extensively in the reproduction of art images. Very suitable for this type of imagery but I have also printed this image on Portrait White.
Just to finish, every print I do, I test print first. Sometimes images work best on one paper rather than the one I thought should be used. This saves time, paper and expense in the long run. Every paper has its own profile. To get the best result from the paper you need to download this profile from the manufacturer. I use an Epson 3800 printer. If you are thinking of going into printing do bear in mind you need to be printing on a regular basis. A lot of problems with printers, ie blocked heads, occurs when the printer is not in regular use. Printing can be a little bit of trial and error and getting to know your printer and the relationship this has with your monitor. There is loads of help available but a printing workshop is well worth doing if you get the opportunity.
Top Tips for Perfect Landscapes 2
- Written by John Hooton
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This time I will be dealing with composition. To me this is probably the most important part in creating good images. Once you learn the technical side of taking an image - shutter speed, aperture, filters, white balance etc then all your concentration and effort should go into the composition. Composition is difficult to teach people. Over the past number of years I have noticed, when doing my courses, people of various levels, and in every course, there is always one or two people who stand out as having a “natural eye”. However, everyone can learn about composition once they follow a certain routine.
Rule of Thirds
This is probably the thing we hear most about in competition. It simply means that you divide your image into thirds giving you nine sections and you place the main points of interest on one of the four intersecting lines. This is used as a guide but it does not mean that you stick rigidly to it. What I normally say to people is “learn about the rules and then learn to break them”! One of the things you are not meant to do is to put your horizon in the centre as this can divide the image. When you have a very strong sky it is always worth ‘showing it off’. So therefore I would have the horizon lower in the image and show off the sky. On the other hand if you have a very weak sky I would eliminate as much of the sky as possible and keep the horizon higher in the image making the foreground as strong as possible. Regarding viewpoint, where you position yourself and the height of your camera plays an important part in composition. If you have a subject matter in the bottom half of the picture and you take too low a view point it can merge in with the horizon or whatever is in the background. Its always worth giving a separation between your subject and the horizon. Taking your camera to a lower position can work for certain images for example patterns and shapes. The first image was taken on Fermoyle Beach. In this case I deliberately put the horizon bang on in the centre, (breaking all the rules) but it works because it’s a very strong reflection image and a complete mirror image. The second image "Rocks on Minard" demonstrates how I kept the very strong rocks to the very bottom of the image creating nice space between the rocks and the horizon with the soft rain approaching. Colour also plays a very big part in this. Apart from the very strong green there is very little other colour.
Another very strong element in composition is having a very dominant foreground interest. A lot of the time you can have a lovely backdrop but its what you put in the foreground which can make or break the image. Rocks, seaweed, patterns etc are usually good elements to include, even a boat or two will work well also. This image was taken on Kinard Beach. An evening shot with strong side lighting enhancing the rocks in the foreground. The two rocks are very prominent and note the reflection on the wet sand. Its very important that when a reflection is there you don’t cut off any part of it.
The use of leading lines is another important thing in composition. These lines take the viewers eyes into the image and normally to the main subject. Any kind of lines or shapes, especially diagonal lines can work very well. This winter image from a cold, windy morning on Fermoyle Beach is a good example of ‘leading lines’. The white frothy water starting on the bottom left hand corner takes your eye to the rock in the middle ground and then curves back around to take your eye to the snow capped mountain in the background. Most important thing is that your eye is kept in the image and there are no other distractions.
In the creation of good images ‘mood’ is an essential part to be aware of. To create mood in your images light is probably the most important thing and understanding how this works. The time of day is vital to this. The image I’ve selected to demonstrate this was taken on Duinin Pier. Taken on a winters morning when the light was naturally low, but just the right amount of it breaking through the clouds. Note the darkness at the very top of the image, the centre of the image is light and then the bottom of the image is dark again. Added to this the white water with the dark rocks, giving a total combination of light and dark. I would consider this a very ‘moody’ image. As I mentioned in my last article, I am not a great fan of HDR as it makes it more difficult to create mood in images as people tend to want to light up every part of the image. Shadow and light is what makes this a good image.
I have always believed a strong sky can be a powerful component in you image. Sometimes when I see a great sky I just want to photograph that but a sky on its own is not sufficient. So you need to find something else with it. However if you have a very strong sky you don’t have to go to a lot of trouble with your foreground. Again from Fermoyle Beach, this image says a lot about sky. Taken shortly after sunrise this image shows the very dramatic cloud formation which draws your eye immediately.
A Sense of Balance
Having a balance in an image also has a lot to do with composition and sometimes we tend to mimic this in our images. This image on Kinard, just shows a sense of balance between the seastack in the background and the large rock on the right foreground.
Keeping Things Simple
Good composition does not necessarily mean having a lot of components in the image. Sometimes 'less is more' or a minimalist image. Sometimes people find this type of photography hard to do and are not sure where to point their camera. This image I've selected is, I believe, a good example to display this. All you have is sky, water and sand. Can't say too much about this, it is a very subjective and personal thing and can come to some people naturally.
I hope you have enjoyed my insight into composition and again I say this is only my opinion. In my next article I'll be talking about the actual medium of printing your images.