Travel v. Landscape photo mindsets.

June 10, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Have been struggling winnowing down some 3,000 shots from a recent Navajo country trip we took. The prime focus was Canyon del Chelly, with side trips to Chaco, and First Mesa. 

Canyon del Muerto Petroglyph Panel in Sepia_ This was a shot that I had to salvage, essentially by overcooking using plug-ins, because I settled for a series of pano snaps that I didn't check for focus. By pushing it in NIK ColorFX, I was able to get a usable image, but not the one I would like to have of this.

Part of the problem is that I'm used to going to a place as a tourist at first, doing the usual tourist snaps more as scouting, then coming back to work the most promising areas. Trouble is, while this works in Sedona, which we visit a lot, places like Canyon del Chelly could well be one time events. Certainly being in the Chaco Ruins for the annular eclipse will prove to be a one off, and one I would love to have a do-over on. 

One major problem with shooting in a canyon that you can only access with a tour guide, is light is going to be a mix of top light and key features being in shaded recesses. This has made me thankful for Lightroom 4.1's new tonal sliders for allowing me to pull details out that would otherwise be lost. But given that a major sand storm was filtering down into the canyon while we were there, and I didn't feel comfortable taking time to set up the tripod (my own reluctance, nothing set by either my wife or my guide pressuring) , a lot of shots were lost to lack of focus, or amateurish set up.

As a landscape shooter, I'm mentally set to scout, spend time walking around pre-visualizing, using my iPhone for test shots, and being totally willing to write a shoot off because the light/sky/color-of-foliage isn't all that appealing. What I'm having to learn is that as a Travel Photographer, I have a limited opportunity to do that. "This moment is it." is a hard nugget to digest. 


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