It's another Friday again. Today we have another guest from Portugal, Andy Mumford.
Andy is one of the most famous wedding photographer in Lisbon. However, his true love is always landscape photography.
Being a wedding photographer and a landscape photographer will give you totally different experience. He is sharing his experience in being a landscape photographer today.
I’ve been doing photography since around 2006. I’ve always loved travelling since I was a kid when I used to go camping around Europe with my family. As I got older and went to more and more places I started getting interested in photographing them, but was disappointed that my images never really captured the place in the way I experienced it. Trying to do that was really the catalyst for learning how to take better photographs which then led to getting into photography as a hobby, which then in turn became something I did more professionally.
Do you start photography as a landscape photographer, or you later changed into one and what do you like most about landscape photography?
No, as I said above I started out getting interested in photography through travelling and a lot of my first photographs were street scenes. It was only when I decided to learn about photography that I got interested in landscapes as I wanted to practice and as I was living next to the coast at the time I started doing lots of coastal waterscapes. I quickly fell in love with doing landscapes, and as I spent a lot of time outdoors and had always enjoyed camping in the countryside from being a kid, it seemed like I’d discovered something that naturally fit in with other things that I’d always loved doing.
As to what I like about landscape photography…well there are so many things, but most of all I like that it makes me see the world through curious eyes, I like that it puts my in beautiful places to witness wonderful scenes, like a sunrise in the Amazon or sunset from a rarely visited beach, and slow down to appreciate the experience, and finally, I like that it drives me to continue exploring the world and looking out for new places to go and see (and photograph).
What inspires you to take landscape photography and how do you find new location to photograph?
I love visiting new places, I always have done. It’s nice to visit a familiar location and photograph it in great light or whatever, but what really inspires me is travelling and visiting new places. There’s something about being in a different place, a change of scenery, new surroundings, that really inspires me to go out and take photos.
My wife and I are always planning trips, it’s hard to define exactly what it was that makes us choose a particular place, it might be reading an article about a place, or just seeing a photograph, but once the curiousity is piqued, then we’ll start researching all about a place and finding locations to photograph.
Just to give an example, we’re heading off to Indonesia in the summer, and after that we’ve got a trip to Norway planned for the New Year. We’ve also spent recent months researching Japan, the USA and the Azores. The USA in particular is a trip I’m looking forward to doing, but I don’t want to go until I go spend at least 3 months there, so certain stars need to align first.
What is typically in your camera bag?
I like to travel as light as possible, so there’s usually a camera, a telephoto lens (70-200mm f4) a wide angle (16-35mm f4) and maybe a 50mm prime if I think I might be shooting portraits as well. Then there’ll be a carbon fiber tripod, and a couple of filters (a 3 stop neutral density graduated, a 4 stop neutral density reverse grad and a 3 stop and a 6 stop neutral density to slow down exposures). Finally there’ll be odds and ends like a headlamp, spare batteries for the camera and torch, spare cards and then, depending on the weather, extra clothing like a fleece, a rain jacket or a down jacket if it’s cold. I’ll also usually have a GoPro as well. Altogether the bag usually weighs about 7kg if I’m going out on a day hike and coming back after dark.
What equipment do you use now? And what do you start with?
I use a Nikon D800E dSLR and Nikkor lenses, Lee filters and a Gitzo mountaineer tripod. I started out with a Nikon D80, a Sigma 10-20mm and a Nikkor 18-200mm.
What equipment are you looking to upgrade next?
I’m not really much of a gear head and don’t really worry about owning the latest and greatest gear. Of course, when the next generation of cameras come round, I’ll be interested in what the D800s replacement (I don’t count the D810 as a next generation camera) can do, and if there are significant improvements in the same way that the D800 offered significant improvements in dynamic range and resolution, then maybe I’ll upgrade. If not, then I’m happy with what I’ve got now.
What does interest me is the potential of lightweight mirrorless cameras, and when image quality high ISO capability and dynamic range in those kind of cameras matches what a professional dSLR can do now, then I might be tempted to switch. They’re still not quite there yet though.
Do you have any formal training in photography?
No, I never formally studied photography. As I started to take pictures of the places around my home I started to share them online on sites like Flickr and Deviant Art, and it was in those places that I came across some amazing photographers whose images changed my entire understanding of what photography could actually be. I really wanted to be able to take photographs like that, so I set about teaching myself through books and asking questions online, investing in a better camera, investing in things like a tripod and filters, and then just experimented and kind of made my own way. That defines my character really. I like to learn new things, but I like to go out and research stuff and find things out for myself.
Are there any challenges you face being a landscape photographer, and what are they?
There are a number of challenges, from practical ones concerning weather and light, to less tangible ones like creative choices of composition in the field and post processing later. With regards to the weather, I worry about it less now than I used to. It’s great to have fantastic light and beautiful colours, but if the weather is rubbish, then I still enjoy being out and taking photographs just as much. As for artistic choices, I find that I tend to shoot much more instinctively now than I used to. In a given scene the choices to shoot wide or telephoto, a long exposure or a short one, how to compose etc are quite intuitive and I tend to shoot what “feels” right.
How do you prepare before going for a shoot?
I’ll spend a lot of time looking at GoogleEarth if it’s a place I’ve never been to before to try and get an idea of what to expect when I get there and where might be good places to start looking for places to shoot from. Then I’ll check weather forecasts, check sunset times and where the sun is going to be using an app like The Photographer’s Ephemeris, and if I’m going to the coast I’ll check to see what the tide is doing. Then I’ll make sure I’ve got appropriate clothing, and that’s about it.
Do you have a post-processing workflow?
I used to use Nikon Capture NX2 which incorporates elements of Nik Software’s control points directly into it’s interface, but Nikon have stopped developing the software, so I’ve recently switched to Lightroom CC which I with Nik plug ins like Color Efex Pro. I also use Tony Kuypers Luminosity Masks in Photoshop CC for images that I can’t get to look how I want them to using Lightroom/Nik Color Efex Pro.
A general workflow would be correcting colour balance, lens distortion and removing as much noise as possible from the raw file, and then also any significant work that might need doing in shadow or highlight recovery. Then I’ll convert the RAW file to a TIFF and work on local contrast and colour to enhance the image using either Nik Color Efex Pro in Lightroom, or Luminosity Masks in Photoshop CC.
What is the most important thing you think of before you press the shutter?
Checking the composition and edges of the frame to make sure everything is balanced and there are no unresolved elements (things touching or disappearing off the edge of the frame that don’t look right), and checking the exposure to ensure the maximum dynamic range is captured, which may involve small changes to exposure to ensure all the highlights or shadows are captured, or using a filter or bracketing exposures to capture the whole range of light.
Lastly, what tips/advice do you have for other aspiring landscape photographers?
Make sure you take photos for yourself. As soon as you start submitting work on the internet, people will give you critiques, which for the most part is well meant, but will almost always be about what that particular person looks for in an image.
Try to develop your own vision, based on what you like to photograph and the way you want your images to look, and try to remain true to that. To say “photograph what you feel, not what you see” is an old cliché, but it’s also very true. Photography should be about self-expression, and the in the case of landscapes, about the experience of the place you’re in. So try to distill the essence of that personal experience into your photos and don’t worry at all about anything other than that. That’s the best way to develop your own style and vision.