Now that I finished my landscape photography workshop with the British landscape photographer David Osborn I must say: It was a hard week! On two days we have got up at five in the morning to get to our destination just before sunrise. There we took pictures over two or three hours. After that the task was editing the photos with Photoshop, then in the evening light, out again in the really breath-taking landscape of Wales. David has not spared me! (To remind: I was his only student for that time.) But I have learned a lot.
WORKING LIKE A LANDSCAPE PAINTER
David’s landscape photos give the impression of paintings – and indeed he is working like a painter! The image files out of the camera are just raw material to him, from which he carves out – by means of Photoshop – the final picture with a lot of precise steps, just like a sculptor out of a block of marble. The biggest mistake you can do, he says, is trying to get the image optimization with a few large steps. Lightroom functions with sliders and auto-optimizations are a kind of barbarism to David. Instead he uses the mouse like a landscape painter his brush with wide and soft strokes, gives more vividness to parts of the picture, brightens or darkens them, elaborates shadow details and highlight definition and much more. Despite the detail work you must not lose the view to the whole landscape picture. You should make up your mind preferably at the beginning (or even before taking the photo) which is the main part and which the additional parts of the landscape picture. How can I guide the view of the spectator, for example, with lightened and darkened sections of the image sections?
David’s workshops are very well structured. First, he tries to get an impression about the individual photographic skills of his student and where are his difficulties. Depending on that he builds up what he calls “the process”: working out a proper photo step by step. Everything starts with taking a landscape photo of course. If you made up your mind about perspective, image composition and so on, then put your camera on a tripod and get your picture with one exposure or a bracket series. And then take a shot every time something special happens: e.g. an interesting sky, a sheep in the foreground, sunbeams or spots of light on the landscape. But you must be patient: It could take hours to gather enough exposures to combine them to an interesting landscape picture afterwards.
GETTING MORE DETAIL IN YOUR PICTURE
After getting back to the cottage we started working with Photoshop. One of the first surprises for me was the fine resolution I can get out of my camera (a Nikon D 800 with about 36 megapixels). Sharpening techniques is the key – not just in one step but rather several well combined actions to get a clean result. (Certainly, I already knew a lot about sharpening techniques.