Wilderness Photographer of the Year presented by Mountain Designs judge, Matt Palmer offers some top tips for better photography.
GRW: When would a black & white photo work better than a coloured photo in landscape photography?
Black and white photographs can sometimes work better than a coloured photo in landscape photography when the subject of the photograph is the form, shape, and tonality of something excluding it's colour.
It especially works well in minimal compositions which we often find in the Alpine regions of Australia, with plenty of opportunities to capture snowgums and other species with a thick blanket of white beneath. Typically unless the colour of an image is directly contributing to the contrast and separation of different elements within an image, or creating a special atmosphere, then black and white becomes a strong consideration for how the image could be presented.
GRW: What are your tips for photographing in the rain?
When photographing in the rain the best results come from embracing the light and scenes the rain creates. It creates broad and diffuse light that can be great for more subtle scenes, and sometimes with low rainclouds, a scene can look like its foggy. Observing these low clouds and how they weave between elements of the landscape can result in some atmospheric imagery.
Rain also brings the possibility of reflections on rocks and other surfaces. The closer the camera is to that surface the more reflective it will be. This enables creative photography in weather that may otherwise inspire dreariness! From a practical standpoint it's important to know the weather sealing or resistance of your camera, and possibly shoot either with a rainjacket for your camera or under and umbrella if your camera is not rated for the conditions.
GRW: When photographing a person in the outdoors, what's the best advice on where to position them?
When creating an environmental photograph of a person in the outdoors I would position the subject where they provide a counterbalance to other elements within the scene. Of course, where you place someone might depend quite strongly on the style of the photograph.
If photographing a more artistic image you may want a figure almost hidden or submerged within the landscape. Or if it's a hero shot of the person, you may want a lower angle where you lift the person strikingly above the horizon line, leaving the landscape below in the frame. Think about what you are trying to communicate about both the landscape and the person within it, and work to compose an image that specifically tells that message.
GRW: Do I have to shoot in RAW to get the best quality photos?
Shooting in RAW doesn't necessarily make an image strong in itself. Plenty of journalistic photographers make great images by shooting straight to JPG as dictated by their media organisations. However, when given the choice, I'd always recommend shooting to RAW.
It provides you with a greater collection of data and tonality, and allows you to bring more detail out of shadows, as well as potentially pulling back highlights a touch if you find a specific cloud or reflection within the scene a little too bright. Overall it gives you the most versatility to end up with the image you're wanting to capture.
There's still plenty of time to get your photo into our Wilderness Photographer of the Year to be in the running for $13k worth of prizes including a luxury guided walk, a stack of quality outdoor gear and $5k cash. Upload your photo here.