Janet Keen: Creativity Queen

By Janet Keen

Landscape photography. Are you into it?

Before I joined the Rotorua Camera Club three years ago, I wasn't. In fact I detested them so much, they almost made me feel ill with boredom.

If anyone in my acrylic or watercolour painting classes asked me to demonstrate how to paint one I'd suggest they find another teacher. I could tolerate them if they were a backdrop for something more creative like an angel on a bike, a cockatoo in a tree or a cow jumping over the moon. But by themselves; yawn material. Back in the days of film cameras I used to take shots of them in the middle of the day in full sun with cloudless skies.

I'd be in some breathtaking holiday location, snap it, get my film developed and throw out three quarters of the results because they were so lifeless and flat.

I couldn't understand why and wasn't sufficiently interested to find out. But since buying a digital DSLR camera and joining the Rotorua Camera Club, the life of a landscape photographer has started to entice me. Why?

Because I have discovered some secrets that have begun to transform my attempts into something way better than I ever imagined.

While attending club meetings, I have been exposed to landscape shots that are so beautiful they almost make me want to cry.

Viewing world class images by professional national and international landscape photographers at Auckland Photography conferences has changed my life. I want that clarity, I want that depth of colour and I want that sharpness, now. During one field trip on a conference I was assaulted by a mild attack of camera gear envy.

But I soon lost it when one kind man in front of a Pukekohe pumpkin patch opened up the back of his BMW Four wheel drive and said to me: "See all that equipment in there? That's $50,000 worth, borrow what you want.''

I was humbled by the generosity of a person who was so passionate about his craft that he wanted me to share in it by lending me one of his prized lenses.

I tried a couple of them and although I was grateful, I found they didn't improve my shots that much because we were out in the middle of the day.

Nine tips for better landscape photography

1.Don't go out in the middle of the day.

2.Get up at the crack of dawn and be out on location during dusk. You have a half an hour each side of these times to capture the best golden soft light.

3.Take your camera off automatic mode and switch it to Aperture priority.

4. Put your camera on a tripod.

5. Take lots of shots and cull.

6. Study the shots of other great landscape photographers.

8. It's not about the gear you have, it's about the light and the weather.

9. Join a camera club.

10. Attend a workshop run by a professional landscape photographer.

I recently attended a workshop run by well respected professional Rotorua photographer Craig Robertson. Last Thursday night other members from the Rotorua Camera Club and I went out to the Lake Okareka boardwalk on dusk and shot the trees, lake, grasses, wildlife and each other.

The beautiful golden light glowing over the whole scene in the setting sun, the wind rustling in the rushes and the Paradise ducks honking made me feel so peaceful.

I was really pleased with a number of the photographs that I took.

After viewing Craig's images and listening to his instructions, I am now concentrating on simplification.

We are really lucky in Rotorua. The range of locations for attaining world class landscape photographic images is just around every corner. The diversity and drama that our volcanic, lake and forest filled landscape affords, is inspiring.

I must be improving because in the last two months I have been contacted by advertising agencies seeing images they like on my blog, wanting to buy them.

Who knows, one day I may be able to afford one of those top quality wide angle Canon lenses but until that day I'm just going to keep on shooting.

Creative quote of the week

"Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.'' _ Ansel Adams

 To see more of my landscape photography have a look at janetkeen.blogspot.com

I am posting images and stories every day on it for the month of November.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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