Yes, you read that right!!!
I know the title sounds a little unbelievable, but it actually is true!
People may think that making images of Lions and Tigers in the wild is dangerous and Landscape photography on the other hand, is all about shooting pretty flower filled pastures, which is so easy. So what could be so dangerous about it? What many people fail to grasp is that a Landscape image is memorable only if you showcase a pretty scene in an unusual perspective. The challenges involved in including that “unusual” factor in a Landscape image is sometimes much more intense and harder than any other form of Nature Photography. Let me base my theory considering some key parameters which everyone will agree, are essential for a safe photo shoot.
- Exposure to the elements –This point comes primarily from the fact that a landscape photographer is more exposed to the elements than a wildlife photographer. A wildlife photographer is usually on a safari jeep during photo shoots and this vehicle acts a safety barrier protecting him and his equipments from any unwanted dangers unless the photographer is careless enough to fall off the jeep. A landscape photographer on the other hand, more often than not has to be on foot most of the time getting really intimate with the terrain if he has to make any meaningful images. And when you are on foot walking mountain trails to capture that beautiful sunrise or kneeling on slippery rocks to get that lovely waterfall, you are always at risk. I personally have had two nasty falls once on some slippery rocks near Dudhsagar and once on some loose gravel in Ladakh.
[highlight2]When you are on foot walking mountain trails or kneeling on slippery rocks you are always at risk![/highlight2]
- Timings – Landscape photographers treasure images made in a fading light or lowlight conditions when the sky shows the most dramatic colors. Sunrise and sunsets have always fascinated us, and to get a sunrise from a hill top usually means trekking in the dead of the night to reach the top before the sun comes out, it’s the same for a sunset seeker where he has to deal with walking back after the sun has set. While a wildlife photographer also needs to be up at the crack of dawn or staying out until the sunset, to get those special moments, he is at a lesser risk of either stumbling in the dark or getting bit by something nasty which you did not realize was hiding in the dark. I once had to trek to the bottom of a waterfall in pitch darkness on very slippery terrain at 4:30 AM to make some images of the fall with the stars shining on top of it. It was an unforgettable and terrifying ordeal to say the least. Also going out at unreasonable times into the wild can sometimes attract unwanted attention.
[highlight2]Going out at unreasonable times into the wild increases your chance of either stumbling in the dark or getting bit by something nasty![/highlight2]
- Equipment safety –Now we all have made significant investment in our equipment and take pride in our equipment. While a wildlife photographer only worries about his equipment we landscape guys have more to worry about, our personnel safety! And when time comes its usually the equipment safety which is compromised for personnel safety and the outcome can only be thought of in nightmares. Nobody wants to let go of his equipment, but believe me that’s exactly what you do when gravity decides to flex its muscles against you on a bad day. I once had my entire camera setup washed away and me swept off my feet, when I was trying to make some slow shutter images of a stream in Bhadra Tiger Reserve where I failed to judge the power of the current. Also shooting scapes near the sea is always a tricky subject to handle due to the sand and salt. One of my close friends even dropped his lens in Sea water while changing his lens.
[highlight2]Shooting scapes near the sea is always a tricky subject to handle due to the sand and salt[/highlight2]
All said there can be no substitute for careful execution and acting responsibly when out in the field. Below I have listed a few points which in my opinion must be followed by all photographers going out into the wild and especially if you are a keen landscape enthusiastic.
- The camera strap is your best friend – Have it around your neck all the time. You will be thankful for this simple and free accessory instead of cursing the fate when the time comes.
- Have a nice powerful light source – A torch with a nice powerful beam is always helpful when you have to tackle the dark nights. Always ensure the torch is in working condition before any trip as you never know how long you may need it for.
- Keep people informed – Always let people know your plans and when they can expect you back, keep the mobile phone charged and inform your contacts if you are going in an out of network coverage area. If possible also take someone along with you to give you company.
- Expect the unexpected – When out in the open always keep all the options open. Make sure both you and your equipment are adequately dressed to tackle the capricious weather and also keep a small water bottle and a small snack.
- Be well informed – It always pays to know where the next nearest town is or the weather forecast for the next couple of days or the sunrise and sunset times. Do a basic research if you are going somewhere new and handover a detailed itinerary to your contacts back home if possible.
- Follow the rules – Rules exist for a reason. Abide by them to extract the maximum out of your trip, if you need special permits then do not attempt the shots without getting those permits first. Always respect your subjects and the nature in front of you and please act ethically.
Photography is most fun when its handled responsibly. Hopefully this short article has been helpful in realizing that and please do let me know how you feel about it. Also if you have any personal adventures with the camera which you would like to share with us, then they would be highly appreciated in the comments section. Looking forward to those stories 🙂