The last year for all of us has been more than difficult as our lives have been restricted due to the Covid pandemic and travel both locally, nationally and internationally has been stopped. For those of us that enjoy our photography and enjoy being in the landscape regardless of the weather conditions, life has been particularly limited. Nonetheless, all of us have made the best of our local surroundings and many photographers have learnt new skills including still life photography, macro plus a range of other photography too.
I have made no secret that the restrictions imposed have affected me greatly in terms of loss of freedom and experiencing the wildness and beauty of the landscape locally and further afield. However something I learnt a few years ago has stood me in good stead and that is not to delete any photos in the field unless clearly out of focus etc. It’s all too easy to look at the back of the camera and decide we know within a second whether it is worth keeping or not, and then press delete. For me this is a great mistake firstly because it’s not the best way of treating your flashcards and secondly, because sometimes when you get home and look at those photos on the large screen they look very different. Over the years I have built up a huge collection of photos and like all have marked the ones that I consider my favourites and the best. But during these long weeks where we have been mainly confined to our homes it has been a refreshing experience to look back at places that have been visited and enjoyed and also an illuminating experience to think about photos that you initially dismissed and chose not to process. I have done a lot of re-processing and looked at photos again with a different eye. For example, the very large Nikon 850 negatives can take on a completely new life if you investigate and experiment with cropping parts of the image. From this you can get pictures within pictures. Some photos that I have left in a colour state have been evaluated to see if they contain the right characteristics to turn into a good black-and-white photo e.g. not too busy a photo and with some clear contrast within the photo. I have also developed my processing skills further. Now, that does not mean dropping skies that don’t match in terms of light or colour into landscapes that they should not be in. Rather, it has meant honing my skills which has led to parts of my processing being more efficient and parts of my processing being more creative. I have also found that many others are looking at their processing skills more seriously which in my book is a good thing. Both taking and making the photograph are very important as so many are keen to spend time photographing but don’t give enough time to process it accordingly. I have also been lucky enough to find that a few people have asked me to do some online tuition with them in terms of general photography and getting started with processing. This has really made me think about what I know and how I can best explain it to someone else.
Many of you that know will know that I am a firm believer that the end goal for any landscape photographer (or for that matter any photographer) is to be able to produce a fine print. I do print and I have found that by assessing my processing skills and knowledge and building upon those, I have been able to refine by printing skills as well.
So in conclusion let’s hope the spring and the summer yields better times for us all but in the meantime maybe re-evaluating our knowledge of processing will benefit us when we have the opportunity to use our cameras creatively wherever we choose to go.