Jun 6, 2010

Feeling Pigeonholed!

Landscape photography is not something I shoot often.  While making over my website a couple of weeks back I realized that I'm not paying enough attention to this side of photography.  To be honest, I really don't feel landscapes are one of my strong points.  I've been feeling pigeonholed in that most of my efforts have been concentrated on shooting the 'friggin birds'.

Most of you know that I love shooting anything with wings.  I have thousands and thousands of bird images I consider keepers but only have a couple dozen landscape images that I would consider hanging on my wall.  Having taken the plunge into photography as a full time profession this past January I have come to the realization that I need to shoot more landscape images!

The love for shooting landscapes was rekindled when I found a three year old image on one of my hard drives of the man in the mountain, a rock formation just west from Corner Brook on the Trans Canada Highway.  I though the image may have sale potential and thought that I really should be shooting more of this type of image.  And photographing things without wings can actually be fun, right?   :)

*Note.  Click all image to view larger! 

'Man in the Mountain'
Nikon D200.  Nikkor 70-200VR.  ISO 100.  1/160th @ f6.3.

Onward to 'Flow', an image of a local brook I took on a cold, wet and dreary day a short time ago.

Nikon D200.  Sigma 10-20mm.  ISO 100.  1.3 Seconds @ f16.

Satisfied with the image (framed 20X30 inch print now sitting in our dining room!) I felt compelled to shoot more!

I had a kind lady contact me looking for a nice image of Corner Brook.  The only interesting image of my hometown that I have is 'Corner Brook at Night'.

'Corner Brook at Night'
Nikon D200.  Sigma 10-20mm.  ISO 100.  20 Seconds @ f6.3.

She wasn't interested in the image as she would have preferred a daytime image.  Unfortunately, this time of the year the light is so harsh mid day that attaining a pleasing image taken during the day is just not possible.

Residents of Corner Brook are lucky in that in summer the sun sets almost straight out the Bay of Islands and makes for wonderful sunsets.  Photography is all about 'taking the hand that is dealt', right?  It took a couple of ventures out to get what I was looking for but the rewards were well worth the efforts!  Let me elaborate.

The first trip out I made the most basic of mistakes.  Lesson number one is that while photographing sunsets you never leave immediately after the sun sets behind the horizon.  If you are lucky the best of the light show will come after the sun disappears.  I got impatient and discouraged as the sun vanished and made for home.  About half way there I glanced back over my shoulder to see that the cloud in the sky had made the metamorphosis from mundane to insane!  The entire sky looked as if it were on fire!  Muttering every cuss word in the vocabulary I beat it back to my vantage point to be greeted with a drab and colorless sky followed with another slew of curses.  Lesson number two here is once the show begins it doesn't last long.  Be patient and ready!

The second sunset adventure was more of a success.  I was rewarded greatly with another sky on fire, this time while the sun was still above the horizon.  But I had made another rookie mistake.  I was more concerned with timing the sunset than with picking a good vantage point.  I got an image but had to crop off the bottom off from a very poor choice of foreground.

'Fire in the Sky Above Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands'
Nikon D200.  NIKKOR 17-55MM.  ISO 100.  1/5 @ F11.

My third attempt was more successful I feel.  I changed locations entirely and managed to time another intense sunset.

'Corner Brook Downtown at Sunset'
Nikon D200.  Sigma 10-20mm.  ISO 100.  1.6 Seconds @ f20.

On a side note some may question my composition in the above image to include the mill and the renovation of City Hall on the far left.  Personally, I feel that both structures are a major part of this city, like them or no.  There is beauty even in the unsightly.  You just have to look a little deeper.

Just a few nights ago Leanne said to me, "Look outside!  The light is wonderful!"  Our view the entire mountain across from us was lit with intense golden light.  "It might be another nice night for a sunset, Scott."  I was tired and outright lazy and made every excuse not to get off my ass to go after some photos.  With a little coaxing I caved in and gathered up my tripod, a camera body, a couple of lenses and some other essentials and headed out in search of light.

Seeing the rays of sun filtering through the clouds on that walk down to the shoreline made me think that it was going to be a great sunset.  Or was it?

By the time I got the the beach it looked like I had already missed the best of the show.  Remembering my amateur mistake a few nights back I sat tight and enjoyed the sounds of the norther waterthrush, bald eagles and distant loons while hoping for something to happen to the sky.

Patience paid off!  There wasn't much color left when a few whispy clouds lite up like roman candles with very dark and ominous clouds backdropping them!  Fantastic!  

Even though the sun may be behind the horizon it can still shine upward at the clouds.  By this time the sunlight has to pass through an even thicker section of the atmosphere.  Dust and moisture particles diffuse the sunlight into intense colors, even more so than at sunrise as more particulate matter exists in the atmosphere.  In the evening wind tends to diminish somewhat allowing these particles to setting to the ground making for less intense color at sunrise.

'Wildcove Sunset and Stones'
Nikon D200.  Sigma 10-20mm.  ISO 100.  3 Seconds @ f22.

Even after the blazing clouds subsided the residual cool colors in the sky added great dimension to the images.

'Boulders Under Ominous Skies'
Nikon D200.  Sigma 10-20mm.  ISO 100.  3 Seconds @ f22.

With the majority of the light show over I continued to take images as shutter speeds got exceedingly longer and longer.  You'd be amazed just how much color is still out there, even when color isn't really visible.   Also, remember that at twilight city lights start to balance with ambient light making for great images.

'Humbermouth at Twilight'
Nikon D200.  Sigma 10-20mm.  ISO 200.  15 Seconds @ f8.

My interest in shooting landscapes has seriously been rekindled!  I feel a lttle more confident that I can produce some half decent landscape images and am feeling a lot less pigeonholed!  Regardless if i'm getting great images or not, I've forgotten just how calming it is to stand out in nature on a calm evening. 

ps....In the last day or two I found a couple of American Redstarts and a pair of Cedar Waxwings, birds I don't get to see to often, and couldn't help myself to shooting a few hundred images!  Landscapes are great fun and all but you 'take what is dealt to you', right?  :)

Thanks for reading along!

All the images you see in this blog post are available for sale in digital format and in print.  Custom framing is available.  I print all images on a wide format professional series Epson 7880 printer.  Please contact me by email or by the phone number listed below.

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, printing and enlargement services, photographic and post processing instruction, and wedding, graduate and portrait photography.  If you would like to contact me please do so at scott@roninphoto.ca or call at (709) 634-3693.  I'm located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, in Canada.

Visit me on facebook at RONiN photography.

I also have a ton of images on Flickr.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit www.roninphoto.ca.


  1. thanks so much Lisa but you are much too kind! :)

  2. Scottie, so thrilled to find your blog. I had no idea. It looks sweet that 's for sure. Your work is styl'in, and congrates on go'in full time at it. Follow what moves you brother.
    Always love seeing your work:)
    Have a grateful day

  3. Thanks Niki! Really appreciate your support! Momma always told me to find a job you love as i'll never work a day in my life!

    All the best!