The photographer Charlie Waite, founder of the prestigious UK Landscape Photographer of the Year competition
‘Photoshop? You play with God’s light as soon as you start changing things. ‘
World-renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite and founder of the prestigious UK Landscape Photographer of the Year competition shares the secrets of his art at Zoom to MailOnline Travel. And he has some strong opinions about tweaking edit suites.
His advice? Use with extreme care.
He continues, “Photoshop is a wonderful thing. It is an extension of your artistic interpretation [but] It must be used with strength and integrity.
“If you’re really good at it, that’s fine, if you can live with the fact that it never happened and that it was completely made up. That’s fine if that’s your thing as it’s a creative process. But what you can’t afford is the viewer won’t believe it. The viewer must have confidence in what you have produced.
“Your manipulation of the image in the mail, as they call it on the computer, needs to be as true to the original experience as possible – just minor refinements.
“But some people, and I really understand, are choosing to create a whole new sky. They think, “Yeah, this is a lousy sky, it’s not a great sky, I did one in California a while back and I’m going to put this on”.
“And then heaven goes and the viewer says, ‘Wow, this is an interesting sky from Middlesex or Glasgow.’ So it has to be done with restraint and integrity. ‘
What’s the secret to a great landscape that may require the slightest change in “Post”?
First of all, “get to know your camera like learning how to drive a car,” says Charlie. And look at your subject with a small rectangle or create one with your fingers like cameramen do.
“When you do that, you get rid of the redundant pieces and then you can really figure out what you are seeing,” explains Charlie.
The breathtaking winner of the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020 “Woolland Woods” competition by Chris Frost. Commenting on his gold medal efforts, he said: “Taken in the spring of 2018 in a wooded area near Milborne St. Andrew in Dorset, this was the third visit to the region in just a few days. On the previous days, both with no morning mist, the light had been harsh and unattractive, but the third day provided breathtaking conditions with fog swirling through the trees. The low shooting position made it possible to put more weight on the wild garlic and the path. ‘
And to produce something memorable, the photographer should be completely immersed in the environment.
Charlie has a phrase for it – “participate and intend”.
The Englishman says: “You should be able to be put on the stand and be able to describe in great detail what you saw.
“A good landscape photographer is someone who can see everything at 360 degrees, marvel at everything, be amazed by everything and immerse himself completely in everything. You can’t just think, “I’ll just try and hopefully it’ll look okay”.
“It’s about recognizing whether the landscape in front of you has the merit of being made into a picture.”
This Buckinghamshire picture, named Mirkwood, was an entry in the Adult’s Your View category in the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020 competition. Photographer Will Milner said, “A lovely little scene reminiscent of the fictional Bleak Forest in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novel series. The interplay of sunlight, leaves and fog kept me on my tracks.
And does an expensive camera help?
Says Charlie, “You can have a £ 10,000 camera and point it at a beautiful scene and you can get a technically good picture but without passion or emotion.
“The viewer does not have the feeling that he was standing next to you when you took the picture. And that’s the point, you need to transport them to this place.
‘Second hand cameras are really good. Don’t necessarily think that the more expensive the better. Always ask yourself what you will do with the end result. ‘
As with (almost) everything, practice is key.
Charlie says, “Don’t put the camera down for a week without using it. Take photos of still lifes in your house when it rains – maybe a nice bowl of fruit.
“You can take photos 100 meters from the street you live on. It could be a little cameo detail – you know the veins on the back of a leaf, or the bark on a tree. Look at nature.
This breathtaking image of the Scottish Glenfinnan Viaduct was highly acclaimed in the Adult Classic View category in the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020 competition. It’s called Majestic Winter Highland and it was shot with a drone by Chris Gorman
This shot by photographer John White took a long time. He called it The Kraken and explained, “After three years of trying, I was finally in the right place when the tentacles of the Kraken came down to recapture the old West Pier in Brighton.” He accepted it in the “Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020” competition in the “Classic View Adult Class” category
“And only go out to take pictures with someone you auditioned first. You don’t want to go with someone who says, “We’ve been here two hours. Can we go now?”
“So it’s best to go alone or with someone who loves you – and will do anything for you. Really, you want to go with a kindred spirit. ‘
He adds, “I think the common misconception is to believe that anywhere you feel beautiful is automatically returning to you the same amount of beauty that you saw when you were there.
‘The still image has to work incredibly hard. It really has to wake something up in someone and make people gasp – that’s what you really want them to do.
“The great joy for a landscape photographer is to see a result that is truly reminiscent of the experience, and not just a pretty photo. It’s much more than decorative.
“The great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams said 12 a year and you’re fine.
“And they were really the ones who met his stratospheric high standards.”
Participants have until April 14th to submit photos for the 2021 Awarded Landscape Photographer of the Year. The competition is open to everyone, with a special class for people under the age of 18. There is a £ 20,000 prize fund including £ 10,000 for the overall winner and additional special prizes.
As in previous years, an exhibition with selected and winning contributions will be premiered in late autumn. Previous locations for the annual presentation included the National Theater, London Waterloo Station and London Bridge Station. Shortlisted contestants will also be featured in a stunning coffee table book, Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 14, edited by Octopus Publishing.