Patience – An Important Virtue in Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is more than just photographing the landscape in front of your lens, and it has to do a lot with the journey and the preparation before the travel. I don’t wish to elaborate on the planning part in this post. This post is entirely about the virtue and practice of patience in landscape photography and why one or two good photographs are better than hundreds of mediocre pictures.

The dictionary definition of patience goes like this: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious”, and this is exactly what I want all of us to inculcate into landscape photography. One of the biggest mistakes that I tend to make repeatedly is to move away from a location, thinking about some other location that I have scouted nearby. Having done this many a times, I have regretted moving away from the location 95% of the times to provide a rough estimation.

The usual process involved in capturing a landscape image goes like this; for many, (skip this paragraph if you don’t feel like reading about the process) scouting and fixing a location for capturing the image and setting up your tripod and levelling your camera so that you get a properly levelled shot and then waiting for the light to play its part or may be waiting for the still clouds to move in case our target is a long exposure capture.

When do we lose patience? It is mainly when the light is right with beautiful colours and when we have captured one or two images; at this point, there is a sudden urge to get out of there and go for a different capture; to another location that is close. But quite often than not, once we reach that place after packing up the stuff, the light would have changed, and the ideal conditions would have become a distant dream. This is precisely why it is essential to stick to a place, especially if you plan for a sunrise or a sunset capture. If we had stayed put, we could have captured one better photograph with different hues or maybe even some great light rays. 

Having patience can be difficulty, especially when it is a new place; while driving to a particular place we will come across multiple places where we could see potential to capture photographs and we might move around to find that place. In those situations it could spell disaster as we might often miss the place we have in our head and end up with no photograph as a result. So, when you are new to a place and you feel for certain that it is going to be “the” place, stick to it and don’t think about places you might have seen on the way.

Nikon D7200, f/4.0, ISO 100, 11mm

The following are some of the tips that have come to my mind that could help you to avoid the mistakes that I have made.

  1. Travel Alone or With Likeminded People

Unless you are travelling with a like-minded person or with someone who doesn’t bother spending time in nature and be lost there, go alone. Yes, you can take them with you if you are planning to check out the location or if it is unavoidable circumstances. Travelling alone or with people who can spend time in nature can be a big boon because you don’t have to worry about wasting others time. Thinking from their shoes, they cannot be blamed too if they do not enjoy such a process. The majority of the best captures that I have shot so far have been captured whenever I was accompanied by my wife or my best friend or when I was alone. If you are an empathetic introvert, then it is highly likely that you might produce brilliance when you are alone or when you are left alone altogether.

2. Mission – Capture that Shot!

The mission on hand should be to capture the image that you have envisioned in your head from that particular location. A word of caution – do not be disappointed and let down if you cannot replicate exactly what you wish to achieve. It is highly dependent on your skill level that you can improve only when you keep capturing and is dependent on the weather and climatic conditions.

3. Be Present at That Moment and Place

It is easy to get lost in nature and dream about similar places and places that you wish you could be, which is dangerous as you will not be able to put in your 100%. You could be thinking that, if it was that place, I could have captured a better image. This thought can also render us lethargic, which drives the focus away instead of the current challenges of composition and perspective. Embrace the place and the moment you are in, do not dwell on the things you could have done; think about the possibilities that are right in front of you.

4. If You Feel Distracted – Try to Relax

Given that we have embraced the place we are in, we can also get over-enthusiastic to find various compositions and move around a lot in one place itself. While checking different compositions and perspectives are good, it is easy to get lost in the process and ultimately end up with a lain and typical looking photograph. Move around a little bit, fix a maximum of 2 or 3 compositions and relax and wait for nature to work its magic.

5. Accept Weather and Nature

While the mission is to “Capture that Shot”, there could be moments when nature or, more precisely, the weather and climatic conditions might turn unfavourable. We must develop resilience and move on in case nature decides to move in an undesired path. In such situations, it is better to try something different or modify the mission to “enjoy nature”. After all I believe, the love for nature is engraved into every landscape photographers mind.

6. Practice in Your Locale

Just like any musical instrument or any form of art, you are as good as your knowledge level. The more you master your camera, the more it works in your favour. Trust me; your camera has nothing to do with a beautiful image if you don’t know how to use it. Practice in your locale, go out and go for a ride and find some places in the afternoon (location scouting) and go back in the evening for a sunset capture or the next morning for a sunrise capture. Since it will be near your place, you will know where the sun will set and rise exactly and what kind of weather to expect and so on.

I do hope that this has been useful for you and has enabled you to understand why patience is a good habit to develop when it comes to landscape photography.

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