Please note all images are the exclusive property of Paddy Barry.
If you would like to learn more about his work, or purchase some of his beautiful prints, you can contact him here.
Last year we spoke with wildlife photographer Paul Dolk to get some pointers on capturing amazing animal shots. But when traveling the beautiful Newfoundland coast, many visitors are just as interested in taking home a memento of the gorgeous vistas or breathtaking views.
Although these scenes are stunning in real life, for most of us they do not translate as well as we might hope onto film.
In an effort to improve my own personal skills in landscape photography, as well as to get some guidance for visitors to the province, I asked celebrated Newfoundland photographer Paddy Barry for some tips on how he gets great landscape shots.
Step 1. Keep an eye out.
Always start with something that catches your eye and speaks to you in some way. Whether it be ocean, architecture, places of historic significance or the local flora and fauna, photogenic subjects abound.
Step 2. Consider composition.
A tried and true method for composing photos is to use the grid system. The points of interest should fall where your grid lines intersect, but try to keep them away from the center of the photo. This is a simple optical principal that just seems to work when framing pictures.
If you have a higher end camera you may already have a grid feature, if not, simply picture a grid and mentally place it in your frame. Picture a typical grid like the one used in the game X’s and O’s. If taking photos for Instagram, make our grid into a square to fit with their format.
Most photographs have a point of entry – a place where the eye enters and then moves through and around the photo. Successful photos often take your eye on a circular journey of exploration around the photograph and this can be fun and revealing for the viewer. Sometimes the eye enters from the side; following a fence or road or a series of telephone poles to a point of interest. Other times it is a burst of colour that attracts our interest. Often it can be a combination of both.
Step 3. Dealing with light.
Sunsets are a popular subject but hard to capture well. Personally, I would rather photograph what the sun is illuminating than the sunset itself. This can be accomplished as easily as facing the sun, then doing an about-face to look at the way the light falls and reflects on the surface of things.
One challenge with landscape photography is getting the right exposure for the land and sky. Often the perfect exposure for land compromises or overexposes the sky or vice versa. This is a challenge but there are some helpful online tutorials for shooting and editing multi-layered photos or “stacks” of photos. Here is a link to some basic support from Adobe:
Step 4. Editing
Once a photo has been taken, study it on your computer and ask yourself: what is necessary in this photograph and what is not. If possible, crop the photo to get closer to your subject and lose things that don’t add to the beauty of the image.
Anyone can be forgiven for taking a photo with a crooked horizon. However, when there are many options to straighten the horizon through software programs, both expensive and free, take advantage and straighten it.
Any other pointers?
Head out around sunset/sunrise:
The hour around sunset and the one around sunrise are both known as the magic hour and are considered to be the best time to take photographs.
Take a tripod for long exposures:
Using a tripod will enable you to use the lowest ISO setting possible, resulting in the least amount of grain and noise.
Always put safety first:
With so much alluring coastline nearby, be certain of your footing, especially in winter. One hard and fast rule I have is to never walk across snow near the shoreline unless you can see solid rock beneath it. What may look like a shortcut could be a hidden disaster.
When venturing off a known trail, make a mental note of where you are. I call it the “bread crumb” approach. Take stock of your surroundings: a unique outcrop of rocks or trees, a distinctive landmark to find your way back always helps. It is easy to get lost on the trails, especially with the distraction and low light of the magic hour.
Take a buddy:
It is best to venture out on trails with a buddy. Comparing photos and bouncing ideas off each other is always fun and the buddy system may help you out of a jam.
If you do go it alone, tell a friend where you are going and when to expect you back.
With safety in mind, always be a fearless photographer. We live in a digital age. Shooting lots, editing more and presenting less often equals greater impact. A couple of strong images are greater than 65 mediocre ones.
Please note all images are the exclusive property of Paddy Barry. If you would like to learn more about his work, or purchase some of his beautiful prints, you can contact him here.