|'Photographing Landscape Whatever the Weather’||2 April 2019|
Tony Worobiec made a welcome return to Devizes Camera Club on Tuesday to present his talk and was quick to say, however, that he would prefer to think of it as a workshop, rather than a lecture, and that he would welcome and encourage questions.
He told us that the idea for this talk originated during a workshop he attended some years ago somewhere in America when the delegates were restricted to their motel for 2 days because of poor weather. He felt that was a terrible waste and wanted to show photographers what could be done whatever the weather conditions.
He explained that he tends to expand his definition of “Landscape” from merely images of the countryside to include Coastal Landscapes, Industrial Landscapes and Urban Landscapes. Then he tries to match the feel of his chosen landscape to the weather. And if it isn’t working, he will change location. Tony illustrated these ideas with images of derelict farm buildings in Montana with dramatic, threatening skies, and shots of piers glistening in the rain.
Tony proceeded to work his way through various weather situations, giving hints and tips as to how good images can be achieved in any conditions. He showed us how dramatic cloudy skies can enhance an otherwise lifeless, flat scene. How breaks in the cloud can provide fantastic illumination on dull days. He enthused on the beauty of clouds, presenting images of Super Cells, Mammatus clouds and the approach of a dust storm. And he illustrated how breaking clouds can be illuminated from beneath after the sun has set, transforming a landscape with its glow, as a sequence of images taken at the Grand Canyon showed perfectly.
Many people avoid going out with their cameras when its is raining, but Tony implored us to rethink. Dressed properly, armed with a waterproof camera cover (maybe a shower cap from the hotel bathroom!), a lens hood and a microfibre cloth to wipe your lens, many subjects are transformed by the extra luminosity of light on wet surfaces. His wonderful images taken on various piers round the UK bore witness to the truth of this. He also pointed out that the pathos and abandonment of derelict buildings can be enhanced in the rain.
After the rain, Tony said, the light can be magical as the rain clouds recede. Rainbows add drama to images and can infuse the sky with its colour. Puddles can provide beautiful reflections and foreground interest.
Wind can be an interesting challenge as it can’t be seen - you can only capture the effect of the wind. Tony showed how this can be done in images of the shapes of trees swaying, the spume on waves, moving clouds and fields of barley with poppies. The steam billowing from cooling towers was another effective image of wind.
And the lack of wind can be shown in images of still water and smoke/steam ascending vertically. Tony talked about the phenomenon of Atmospheric Decoupling - the stillness that occurs about 40 minutes before sunrise and 35 minutes after sunset as the temperature of the air and the land equalise. An image of a line of trees on the banks of a canal perfectly reflected in the still waters illustrated what he meant.
Tony expressed his love of foggy and misty conditions. He suggested using a telephoto lens to compress the composition of a woodland scene so that clutter disappears in the fog and simplifies the image. He talked about rising mist that forms about 40 minutes before dawn after a cold night which can provide an extra dimension to a landscape.
He showed us how frost, ice and snow can provide their own kinds of magic. He illustrated the minimalism achieved in snow with high key images of landscape, the structure and texture that emerges in images of fields with a thin layer of snow, and the fascination of ice patterns formed on his car windscreen and in puddles with low early morning light.
While photographing landscapes when there is a blue sky, Tony told us to remember that blue is a primary colour and to select a landscape with complimentary colours, such as desert sand dunes or orange cliffs like those found at West Bay in Dorset. With bland skies, he suggested thinking of them as a sheet of white paper on which lines can be drawn such as the tracery of trees or structures such posts and telegraph poles. On bland cloudy days, try to make images where the sun is a mysterious presence glowing threateningly through onto the composition.
Tony finished his presentation by imploring us not to let the weather stop us from going out with our cameras, reminding us to dress appropriately and try to select locations that complement the weather conditions.
Our Deputy Chairman thanked Tony for a fascinating evening with some wonderful images which he felt would inspire our members to try to emulate. DF
Images © Tony Worobiec