How to fake it as a landscape photographer


How to shoot confidently in a group, or hold your own in a photography conversation.

The "do's"

1. Do have lens wipes. Lots. Enough to pass around. If you're shooting in the rain, check your lens between every shot.

2. Do have a microfibre cloth to drape over your lens when it's raining. It makes you look like you know what you're doing. 

3. Do have a working knowledge of what hyperfocal distance is. 

4. Do have either the Photographer's Ephemeris or Photo Pills installed on your phone. Nod along when people talk about the moon's perigee or the sun's azimuth.

5. Do leave your camera bag either completely zipped up, or open wide. It's tempting, especially with a back pack, simply to close the front flap without zipping it up. Picture in your mind what will happen if someone assumes it is done up, and picks it up by the top handle. All your kit will fall out. It happens often, and it's why actual professionals either have their bag all the way open, or completely closed. 

6. Do bring tape. People say to bring gaffer tape, but I find painter's masking tape is better - it's easier to tear, and strong enough to last for a day. You will use it for: tripod repairs, holding your filter in place when you drop your filter holder, holding stuff out of the way, bag repairs, and in extremis, skin closure on deep wounds until you can get stitches.


7. Do look really annoyed if you arrive just after sunrise, even if you had no intention of getting there beforehand.

8. It's OK to use Live View with your neutral density filters rather than doing all the maths in your head. But have spare batteries ready. 

9. Do shoot RAW. Do edit.


The "don'ts"

1. Don't wear red. You'll show up in everyone else's shots.

2. Don't get in someone else's shot, wearing red or not. Keep peering over your shoulder, and shouting, "Am I in your shot?" from time to time. Keep your head down.

3. Don't carry your tripod with your camera still attached. Always carry the two separately. (Cameras on the ends of tripods are liable to bang into stuff, or fall off.)

4. Don't let go of the camera strap even when the camera is set up on your tripod. Gusts of wind and waves can knock your tripod over, breaking your camera into many pieces.

5. Don't extend the middle column of your tripod to get extra height - you'll look like a beginner. If you do, you then effectively just have a monopod on top of a tripod, and you lose all the benefit of having the 3 stable legs. (It's OK to use the central column in a studio, because there's no wind.)

6. Don't leave footprints in the sand - always walk behind everyone shooting, so you don't put your big feet footprints in their foreground.

7. Don't delete photos in-camera as you go - it messes up the folder hierarchy on your card. Once you've downloaded and backed up all your images, format the card in the camera you are going to use it in.

8. Don't use an umbrella to keep the rain off your kit unless you are very, very confident, or really don't care what people think. Or unless you are on one of my courses, in which case it is encouraged. This is me in Scotland when I was a student on a photography course. What you can't see are the group of photographers laughing at me:



9. When you're looking at someone's photo, don't ask what lens they used, or what settings. Or what camera. It's OK to ask how much sky they brought back in post, how many stops of ND they used, or if they did any exposure stacking.


Talking points that are bound to impress

Did you know you can only see the core of the Milky Way in the northern hemisphere from March (early mornings) to October (after sunset)?

Tilt-shift lenses are able to extend the depth of field from your feet to the horizon because of the Schiempflug Principle, but if you have a tall tree in the foreground it's base will be sharp but it's top will not., the Norwegian weather forecasting site, is the most accurate one that no-one has heard of. 

The correct way to pronounce "500px" is "five hundred pea ex", even though photographers all refer to it as "five hundred pix". 

The "intimate landscape" is just as legitimate a genre as the sweeping vista.


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LandscapeEmma Davies