Hello, and welcome to Astro-Landscapes.com!
This website is dedicated to both nightscape photography and traditional landscape photography. Its goal is to help viewers appreciate the natural world in all its beauty, and to help photographers create stunning imagery of the great outdoors, …without having to “fake it” in Photoshop.
This website began, as its name implies, with the intention of being exclusively dedicated to astro-landscape photography, or images captured at night in general. However, I quickly realized that what I’m truly passionate about is not only night photography, but all types of photography that involve a special element of planning, alignment of subjects, (both astronomical and earth-bound) and other rare events in the natural world. Basically, anything that could take a viewer’s breath away yet still be an entirely real, naturally occurring phenomenon.
Huntington Beach Pier Sunset, October 2015
Sony RX10 mk2 @ 30mm equivalent, 1/6 sec @ f/8 & ISO 100
Single Exposure, Adobe Lightroom CC Processing
Because, unfortunately, if I had to describe the collective trend in outdoor / landscape photography today with just one phrase it would be “eye candy”. Social media is causing our attention spans to get shorter, and also feeding our need for shallow attention in the form of “likes” and mere traffic.
This is resulting in an anything-goes attitude among photographers towards both capture and post-production techniques.
This double-whammy of new standards for digital imagery is causing viewers to under-appreciate most “average” photographs of the REAL world. Even worse, in my opinion, viewers seem to be increasingly likely to assume that a highly doctored, even “fake” landscape photograph is real.
Of course this phenomenon is nothing new, and there is nothing inherently evil about Photoshop. Most photographers probably don’t even intend to “lie” to their viewers; they simply want to create a more impactful image, or one that artistically represents how they felt when they were on location, witnessing the scene before them. However, somewhere along the way they decide to photoshop a moonrise to be a bit larger, or they decide to significantly alter the landscape in a way that simply mis-represents what mother nature could actually offer.
This is not the time or place for anything more than a cursory, unofficial list which techniques I do find to be acceptable in outdoor photography. Such a debate could go on forever, and I honestly believe that is a good thing.
Currently, aside from basic color correction and the management of tones in an image, I do use few techniques for achieving my vision: I will sometimes bracket images for three possible reasons–to achieve optimal sharpness, to reduce image noise, or to avoid “clipping” highlights. Why these techniques? Because their only purpose is to overcome temporary limitations in camera technology; some day I may be able to capture the same exact image with a single click.
I also create panoramic images sometimes, because, well, panoramas are awesome. In fact human vision itself is rather similar to a 1:3 panoramic crop.
Lone Cabin on the Lost Coast, Northern California
Nikon D750, Nikon 24-120mm @ 24mm, 1/60 sec @ f/10 & ISO 100
3 Image Panorama, Adobe Lightroom CC Processing
But as I said this is not a place for hard, fast rules. Aside from my personal pet peeve against photoshopping the moon in any selective manner whatsoever, I feel that an artists’ vision is their own passion, and I respect all forms of art equally.
So, here is my humble, straightforward promise to you: This website will focus entirely on images created with as little post-production “special effects” as possible. If an image is photoshopped for the purpose of increasing image quality, I’ll mention it, or I’ll gladly answer questions about the techniques.
I hope that this this philosophy will encourage fellow photographers to get out there and photograph the real world as it is. There are incredible tools available for planning some truly impressive, real photographs.
I also hope that this information, though admittedly irrelevant to the average viewer, helps folks increase their appreciation for the natural world. Last but not least, of course, I hope these images inspire you to actually get out there and witness for yourselves the splendor that our planet has to offer the un-aided eye. Especially if you’re in the right place at the right time!
Take care, and happy adventures to all!
Moonrise In Owens Valley, December 2015
Nikon D750, Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR @45mm, 1/30 sec @ f/14 & ISO 100
Single Exposure, Adobe Lightroom CC Processing