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Why We Shouldn’t Give Up When We Struggle in Landscape Photography

It is good to have a plan B in landscape photography. But what if even plan B doesn’t work? Should we give up? Or is there still the chance, any way to get some really strong photographs? I came exactly into such a situation recently – and oh man – finally it turned into one of the best photography days I ever had. I even got 360 degrees surrounded by compositions!
So, what have I done to achieve this? As you can see in my latest video, everything began as a usual photography day in the early morning. I grabbed my backpack and went to a place, where I was sure to get some nice fog, for photographing a gorgeous Alps landscape in the Austrian mountains. There were so awesome trees — and interacting with tight fog, it should lead to an amazing, mystique mood and some strong photographs.

This was my plan. The only problem was: against the weather prediction, there was not enough fog and I was in the wrong place for working on other types of compositions. Even the direction of the light was not ideal for compositions without fog. I started to struggle.

Always Have a Plan B in Landscape Photography

But what I have learned over the years as a landscape photographer is, always to have a plan B. In this case, my plan B waited in my van and was called Sony 200-600G – my superweapon when I start to struggle on a spot where no other obvious compositions are possible. I quickly returned to my van and changed lenses. I simply wanted to use my super long tele lens to pick out details from that amazing mountain face on that place. A photograph like that could look so fantastic, especially in interaction with raising clouds. But as I returned to my spot, the clouds were already too high and I didn’t see any rocks from the mountain anymore. I massively struggled and I was already on that point to make this decision, we all know too well – to give up or to fight.

But Is It Possible To Get a Masterpiece, Even Beyond a Plan B?

There was a tiny bit of fog, some kilometers away. It was difficult to predict how long it would last, but as the sun would not appear for an hour or so, I decided to walk towards the fog – quickly, as I felt I didn't have much time until the first sun rays would appear behind the mountain, resolving the fog.


As I was vlogging as well for my video, everything got frantic – what is the absolute poison when you want to get creative. Had it been better to give up at that point? At first, I got some okay shots – and due to my struggle, I was even happy about them. But suddenly I realized that I was surrounded by dozens of compositions in the tight fog. The rising sun appeared in the distance and led into amazing conditions. This was the moment where all my stress hormones turned into endorphins – I got focused to see all the compositions out there.

The Winner Takes It All

Usually, I have a look at different compositions and finally decide calmly on the best one, often with having a cup of tea or a little snack. I love this strategy, as it helped me so often to get much stronger photographs in the past. But as I knew, that the fog could have been disappeared immediately, due to the rising sun, I worked out each rough composition I saw – as fast as it was possible for me. I didn’t rate them, I just worked them all out. And these were quite a lot of compositions. I’m really happy with all the images I finally got and I showed most of them in my video. Due to the lack of time and the huge amount of images, I just didn’t explain every single one, as I usually do in my videos.

This video shows quite well that we should never give up too easily in landscape photography. Even when we struggle and when it starts to get hopeless and everything just sucks, there is still the chance that it will turn into one of the best photography days you have ever had — as happened to me on that day.

To experience the whole adventure, to see how I turned a massive struggle into an outstanding photography day and where I also explain some of my compositions, feel free to watch the linked video above.

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4 Comments

Rich Umfleet's picture

The little engine that could, but for photography!

Christian Irmler's picture

Hi Rich, I got never compared with a locomotive, to be honest. So, thank you therefor :) But yes, finally it is all about mindset - and accepting that it is normal to fail from time to time. That takes the pressure.
Thanks a lot for your comment and nice greetings,
Christian

jim hughes's picture

Yes, absolutely. I'm not really that great, and most of my planned outings lead to failure in some sense. But it's surprising how often I come back with a photo I really like, anyway, and it wasn't even a Plan B. I wrote a blog post about one such experience, some might identify with it:

https://jimhphoto.com/index.php/2021/02/22/start-by-giving-up/

Christian Irmler's picture

Hi Jim, oh yes - and these surprising moments in photography, where we didn't plan for a photograph, but we anyway get out something fantastic, are something really, really special :) Great to hear, that you experience that in the same way.
Thank you for your blog post. I'll have a look :)
Nice greetings and have a great weekend,
Christian