Landscape Photography Tip - Leave Your Camera in the Bag

October 19, 2018  •  2 Comments

Landscape Photography Tip - Leave Your Camera in the Bag 

OK, so you're probably thinking I've finally lost the plot. How can leaving your camera in the bag help improve your landscape photography?

I'm not suggesting you you cut a hole in your camera bag and shoot through it, or that you develop some kind of X-Ray sensor that lets you take photos through the material. I'm not saying don't take your camera out of the bag at all. I'm just saying that you shouldn't be in a hurry to get the camera out.

Let me explain what I mean by starting with a little story.

The other day I was out checking out a location. I arrived and started walking around, pausing from time to time, looking around and even sitting down on some handy rocks. It was a lovely place, some beautiful features and interesting conditions.

After I had been there for about ten minutes another person turned up and then, a few minutes later, another.  I don't think they were together, it was just a coincidence that they arrived at around the same time.

Both of these people had cameras. One was using a DSLR and I think the other was using a compact of some kind, or it might even have been a phone.

Within a few seconds of arriving they both started taking pictures. I stayed perched on my (not very comfortable if I'm honest) rock and watched them. 

Both of them almost raced around the scene firing off shot after shot and, within about 10 minutes the first one left and, a few minutes later, the second one also departed.

I still sat on my rock, camera still in my bag, no photos taken.

As they left I couldn't help but wonder about the two people who had so briefly shared this place with me.

Did they get any good images? Perhaps, just because they had taken so many, they might have managed one that would look good but, had they really managed to get the best image possible from this place?

Perhaps more importantly, had they even appreciated the beauty of the place and the features it had to offer?  Somehow I doubted it. 

After a while I continued my own explorations and, eventually, I set up my tripod, arranged my composition and took an image, pausing for while to make sure I was happy with it before moving on.

Landscape photography isn't about the camera and lens that you use. It's not about the settings, or the filters. 

Landscape Photography is about finding, and emotionally connecting, with the essential beauty of the scene, whether that beauty is bright and cheerful, or dark and dramatic, It may be the beauty of a grand vista or a view of some fine detail right in front of you. 

In order to capture that beauty you have to really experience the scene, and that takes time. If you arrive and immediately start taking pictures then you don't give yourself time to do that. You may capture the obvious, and miss the true essence and beauty of the place.

So... that's why I suggest leaving your camera in your bag, at least when you first arrive.

Take the time to immerse yourself in the scene, to really appreciate the beauty. Explore, but explore slowly and with many pauses to look around and really SEE

Then, and only then, start to think about compositions and consider getting the camera out of the bag.

You may take fewer images that way but the images you do take will be more unique, more about you and the way you see, and experience the world. They will have more of an emotional connection and impact and that, almost always, makes for a stronger and better image. 

I hope you've enjoyed this tip.

Don't forget I produce two landscape photography videos every week so check out my Youtube channel and, if you like what you see, please consider subscribing






Ralph Goldsmith
I'm glad you found the post interesting John, I think you're right that they are just documenting their time but they probably never really 'experience' the area they're documenting. If you decide to have a go with the ND filter then let me know how you get on. Many thanks for reading and commenting
All the best
Very good info, I too have noticed other photographer`s doing just like you say.
I believe most are only documenting their time in the area.
I usually know the moment I look at a scene if it`s something I wish to take a picture of.
Sometimes I do put the camera to my eye just to see if maybe the camera is looking at it a little differently.
With me it mostly about the light, I have taken many photo`s in my life, most were not worth sharing with anyone, But the one`s that made other people go "wow" over viewing it, They were the one`s that had that great light, shadows, and contrast.
It is that light that I look for.
I really do enjoy your post, I have learned a lot from them, some of your tips I already knew, and it`s always good to refresh one`s memory. I have not used ND filter in the past, but after seeing how you work with them I believe I will give it a try in the future.
Thanks again for share your tips.
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