A Change of Pace

Having spent the better part of winter and summer chasing wildlife throughout the Midwest and East Africa, Tamy and I decided to break from this compulsion and slow down the photographic process. 
I often say that we are “nature generalists.” We like to tell stories about ecology, evolution and conservation with our pictures. Lacking the discipline of fine-art photographers, bird specialists, and macro lovers, we are about serendipity... capture the moment, tell a story and invoke an emotion. 
While it might seem counterintuitive, landscape photography plays into our strengths. Although many of the best landscape photographers I know spend their lives seeking iconic vistas, we prefer to discover and rediscover the lesser known locals. This feeds into the serendipitous nature of our pursuits. Unlike the frenzy of wildlife photography, we can work at quarter speed... which just about matches the pace of my own internal processor.
I'd like to offer you five simple steps we use to seek and photograph novel landscapes: 
Get out of the car and take a walk
This is not the time to shoot, it is the time to survey the area. Take a hike, look around, and make some mental notes about when and where you want to be. Think ahead and predict how sunrise and sunset will impact your vista. 

Vary the perspective
I like to climb on boulders or walk into valleys in order to change my point of view. I prefer to shoot from some non-traditional vantage points whenever I can. I enjoy tripod gymnastics... seeking ways to plant the tripod in improbable locations to influence my perspective.

Construct a mental image
Try to build a mental picture of your landscape. Seek out the interesting elements and dream about the potential of the final image.

Be at your spot in the “right light”
While this can be quite subjective, the most dramatic landscapes are shot in sweet light. Revisit your spots at dawn and dusk and take advantage of the sun’s low angle, reflected light, and dramatic clouds.

Take a risk
Try to break from the cliche. Shoot in a new place, shoot in an old place, and shoot in a different way. 
About the Posted Image
Voyagers National Park, MN
This is a lesser known national park located at the boundary between Minnesota and Ontario. It known for open expanses of water dotted by rocky islands. We made this image during a recent (8-2010) camping/canoe trip with our dog Sequoia. 
EXIF: 1DsII + 17-40L @17mm. Exposure 10sec @ f16, iso 100
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