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How I Approach My Landscape Photography

My favourite way to relax is to get out into the countryside with a camera and capture the landscape around me.  I love to explore new locations and uncover what they have to offer.  My approach to landscape photography is a bit different from other photographers in that I tend to use more of a documentary style of photography and shoot a lot of photos rather than concentrating on one or two set ups.  I feel that this approach allows me to capture the essence of a location through a series of photos.  Like a visual story.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, outlining the link between mindfulness and photography, I prefer my personal photography to be less structured than my commercial work.  I don't use tripods, filters etc.  Traditionally landscape photographers will head to a location with a particular shot already in mind and then set up a camera on a tripod, add filters as required and wait for the light to be right to capture that one shot they are after.  For me this is too similar to how I approach my professional work.

When I am out shooting landscapes I like to travel light.  My setup is usually a Fuji X-T3 with the 16-80mm f4 lens.  The lens has a nice zoom range which allows me to move from wide shots to close ups without having to change lenses.  I also bring a Fuji 10-24mm f4 for when I need a wider field of view and a Fuji 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 for those times I need to get in a bit closer to my subject.  But the 16-80mm is the lens that spends most of the time on the camera.  In fact, all of the photos in this blog were shot with that lens.  It is very versatile and gives me plenty of scope when composing shots.  It is also a compact and lightweight setup.  All of the lens mentioned have in-built image stabilisation which is helpful as I shoot everything handheld when in these situations.

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The X-T3 also has a bright and very useful flip out screen which is great if I want to shoot a scene from a different point of view. I can have the camera close to the ground or over my head and still compose the shot.  The combination of the size and weight of the camera with the flip out screen and the fact that I shoot handheld gives me the freedom I am looking for when shooting landscapes.

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This is a typical example of how I approach a new location when I am photographing it for the first time. Last summer  I was in Co Donegal for a weeks holidays with my wife and kids.  The village we stayed in was only a few minutes away from the Poison Glen.  This was a location I had wanted to photograph since I first picked up a camera.  Although I had heard a lot about the place the majority of the photos I had seen were mainly of the ruin of this old church.  I knew the area should have more to offer than that so rather than driving directly to the church I parked at the top of the boreen that led to it and walked from there.

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When you are on foot you're obviously more immersed in the environment and will pick up on small things that would otherwise be missed if travelling by car.  As I headed for the church I was able to get shots of some of the local wildlife and fauna on the way.  The church is overlooked by the towering Mount Errigal and the landscape is lined with lanes and tracks leading to the mountain. These types of shots are great for setting the scene and capturing the overall mood of the area.        

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As I continued down the road, the ruin of Dunlewey Church came in to view through the trees in the valley below.  It was great to see it from this point of view.  It added to the anticipation of finally making it there after years of looking forward to it.

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The ruin itself was as impressive as I had imagined it would be.   It was an amazing experience to have the whole place to myself but quite eerie too.  The place was utterly silent.  Legend has it that no birds sing in the Poison Glen.  I don't know how true it is but there wasn't a sound to be heard and the low cloud and rain just added to the sense of isolation.   I was in my element.

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After I had photographed the exterior of the church I moved inside to get a few shots of the views from the doors and windows.  It must have been very impressive back in it's heyday to have these stunning vistas of the lake and Errigal visible from inside the building. It made it all the more poignant to see it in it's current state.  

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After leaving the church I continued on into the valley to see what else there was to discover and also to see what the view back to the church was like with Errigal as a backdrop.  It was only about 4km of a walk in total but it had everything that makes Donegal so special.  The wildness, the history, the rugged landscape and the peace and quiet that people who visit the county are searching for.


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By taking photos throughout my walk into the valley, I not only have great memories of my time there but also hopefully a visual story that captures the essence and mood of an amazing place. 

As I left the valley I knew I would be back some day.  And I was.  2 days later.  And it was still raining.  But I think blue skies would have ruined the mood 😊

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I buy all my Fuji gear from MPB.com.   Below are links to where you can find the gear mentioned in this blog


Fuji X-T3

Fujifilm XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR

Fujifilm XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS

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