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100 Months, 100 Pictures

‘Loch Awe’, Sutherland, Scotland
Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF14mm f/2.8 R, 4 seconds @ f/11, ISO 200
LEE Seven5 ‘Little-Stopper’ 6-stop near Neutral Density and 2-stop Neutral Density Graduated filters.
Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod with Manfrotto 405 geared head.
Adobe Lightroom (Fuji Provia Profile) and Adobe Photoshop (cloning out rope).

“Paradoxically, technological advances bring visual simplicity ever closer:
the beginner can now achieve results that would have previously required a much higher level of experience.”

100 Months, 100 Pictures

This article is a significant milestone for me, because it's my 100th 'One Month, One Picture' column piece for Outdoor Photography. It is an immense privilege to write for you every month, sharing ideas about the aesthetics of landscape photography, and hopefully inspiring some creative experimentation. I’ve been thinking about how things have changed over the last decade and I’ve chosen a recent image to highlight some of these innovations, to celebrate what for me, are some of the most challenging and exciting aspects of the game.

Many of the traditional aspects of photography have endured our transition into the digital age. Technological advances in sensor design, intuitive and powerful image-processing software and the maturing of High Dynamic Range workflows have all simplified the creation of technically perfect images that would quieten the critical voice of any traditional camera club judge. Despite all these high-tech advancements, many of us still celebrate more traditional elements of workflow, preferring to create our images in-camera as far as possible. We still love the slow, deliberate, compositional remoulding of reality.

Those of us practising in the ‘fine-art’ genre have also enjoyed increasing acceptance and understanding that freedom of expression is just as valid in photography as in any other artistic medium. Paradoxically, technological advances bring visual simplicity ever closer: the beginner can now achieve results that would have previously required a much higher level of experience. The gap between photography and painting continues to narrow. At a very basic level this might simply involve cloning out distracting elements in order to simplify a more traditional image. At the other extreme, creative free-form in it’s most potent guise is currently enjoying a huge surge in popularity with some leading exponents creating breathtaking imagery using Intentional Camera Movement.

I made my image of this beautiful Fisherman’s boat on the banks of Loch Awe just a few weeks ago. I selected a low viewpoint and I honed my composition using the tilting LCD viewed from above. In Lightroom, I used a radial filter to lower the clarity of the image surrounding the boat and then opened the image in Photoshop to clone out a bright blue rope attached to the front of the boat using the content-aware spot-healing brush. This is a relatively simple, traditional image, but it’s creation has been hugely assisted by technology. It’s a magical time to be a photographer.

This article first appeared in Outdoor Photography Magazine. Reproduced with kind permission.