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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Landscapes Are Alive!

Landscapes Don’t Move? • B&W Printers • Specialty Cameras For Unique Results • RAW Or JPEG, Once More

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips

This composite panorama of images in Denali National Park & Preserve at dawn is alive because of the content and color. Being at the right place at the right time of day is what brings life to landscapes.

Landscapes Don't Move?
Q I live in the suburbs of New York City, and I recently approached a gallery owner in a small town I work in about displaying a photo or two. At first he seemed very friendly and interested in my photography. But the mood changed immediately when he realized I focus on landscapes. "Landscapes are dead," he said. "They don't move." How true is this, and does location make a difference (e.g., New York vs. Colorado)? Are weddings and portraits the only realistic way for photographers to make a living these days, leaving landscapes to the hobbyists?
P. Texiera
Via the Internet

A I feel your pain. But don't give up on the landscape photography you love quite yet. Just look at the walls of the homes and offices you visit. The predominant choice for images people live and work with is a landscape photograph or other fine-art medium. One of the most successful photographic artists I know is Tom Mangelsen (www.mangelsen.com). He has beautiful, inspiring galleries around the country, filled with photographs of landscapes and wildlife in beautiful environments. Would you rather contemplate one of his magnificent scenics day to day, or would you choose an edgy commercial or editorial photograph?

That said, there are a lot of "dead" landscape images out there. A significant landscape image is alive due to the content, light, color, or a dramatic feature. In today's digital age where lots of people are traveling widely and capturing a lot of images of beautiful places with good equipment, it can be hard to get that standout shot. So apply your best technical skills, watch for unusual interpretations due to the light or weather, be meticulous in your composition, and edit your work seriously. Then look for other galleries where your work will stand out, and remember that the gallery owner wants every square inch of his space to be profitable! That may mean that images of nearby locations are the best sellers. People like to look at spectacular images that have personal meaning to them, so a New Yorker might love a cityscape more than a fall color grandscape from the Rocky Mountains. Above all, make sure your images are "alive" and that they say to the viewer, "Take me home!"

B&W Printers
Q I would love to be able to afford a printer with multiple ink cartridges and varying shades of black and gray, but money is tight. Any suggestions on what's available for under $300?
D. Mangold
Via the Internet

A Most photo printers in the $300 range will give you acceptable black-and-white prints, but with only one black cartridge you're not going to get a great tonal range, and that's what makes a black-and-white image special.

High-quality black-and-white printing doesn't come cheap, and finding a printer with multiple blacks won't happen in the $300 range. If black-and-white is really your thing, spend just a little more and get excellent results with multiple black and gray cartridges that enable a wide range of black-and-white tones.

Examples are the Epson Stylus Photo R2880 (13-inch width) at about $500. This printer features Photo Black, Light Black and Light Light Black inks. Canon's Pixma Pro9500 Mark II at approximately $800 (13-inch width) has 10 inks that include Photo Black and Gray. Canon's new Pixma Pro-1 (13-inch width) comes in at under $1,000 and has 12 inks that include Photo Black, Dark Gray and Light Gray.

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