Landscape Photography | The Supreme Test Of The Photographer

Cape Cod Photography

Cape Cod | click image to enlarge

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. ” 

 Ansel Adams

Over the last couple winter months I have been showing a series of low-tide, sunset photos I shot over Thanksgiving on Cape Cod. I find landscape photography to be a completely different beast than wedding and wildlife photography. It’s a little more personal, and often, the shooter has a harder time defining what a successful image is.

With weddings, capturing emotion and telling the story comes almost effortlessly because it unfolds right in front of you as soon as you show up and begin your coverage. In wildlife photography, it is a successful shot if your subject actually appears in front of your lens, you happen to fire off shots that are in focus, and composed in an interesting way, demonstrating your subject’s natural behavior in their environment.

In landscape photography, the shooter (at least me) is a harsher critic. I think it’s hard to give justice to the hues, the scene, the textures, the light in front of you (especially if you are not the kind of photographer that likes to heavily manipulate things in PhotoShop). What makes a good landscape image? I think it is in the eye of the beholder.

I fired off around 500 frames for this series. I was only truly happy with 23. I am horrible at math, but that’s like less than 5% of the pictures I shot that I am ok with showing the world. Ok, not just “ok” with showing the world, that’s less than 5% that I told myself “nice job, that’s acceptable” on.

I am not alone though, at least Ansel shared the same sentiment.

Maybe it’s a plague of the creatives.

I recently read a blog article by Thomas Boto, titled “The Day Michelangelo Doubted” (check it out here on Jon Acuff’s blog). Boto explains in his post that Michelangelo had written a letter to a friend describing how a recent painting he was working on was torture  and had finished his letter saying “I am not a painter”.

What was the painting he was working on? The Sistine Chapel (!!!). Good thing he didn’t give up.

Do not lose heart, my fellow creatives.

TGIF and happy weekend’ing my dear friends.


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