The Landscape Photographer’s Biggest Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

We get it: you find yourself perched on cliff, 50 feet above the most glorious landscape you’ve ever seen, or walking down a cobblestone street with a perfect row of 200 year-old houses. You are in awe, you stop and pull out your camera and shoot what has to be the greatest photograph ever taken. Then you look at it in your camera view/computer/lab and realize the awful truth: That’s not what I saw! That’s not the scene I witnessed! What happened?!

Sound familiar? Yup, happens to us all, but how can you side step this tragedy?

Take Your Time

Allowing yourself plenty of time and plenty of range will drastically change the way you are shooting landscapes. Most beginners believe that you see what the camera sees and unfortunately that is not the case. Make sure you are taking the photo from several different angles to allow yourself plenty to work with while editing and allow the camera to speak. Lighting and composition will change drastically with each shot.




Boys Will Be Boya

Exposure, Exposure, Exposure

Sight is in the eye of the beholder and cameras are no different. While you may see a well lit horizon, your camera may see too much sun, reflections, shadows and other defects that your eyes cannot pick up. Make sure you are shooting at various times of day (peak times will vary by location, but always try for a sunrise/sunset shoot time to allow for the best natural light) and at different angles. Once again, this will allow you some extra working material in post production. And speaking of post production…


Blast of Color on Mt Rainier

Drop The Bias…

You wouldn’t paint your home without going back over it and doing touch ups would you? So why wouldn’t you employ the same techniques with photography? So many artists want raw and untouched, but unfortunately your clients aren’t as interested. That shadow that fell incorrectly across the tree? Get rid of it. That blurred bird that unexpectedly became the focal point? Ditch him. Go over your photographs and understand what you are seeing as a whole photo and what you are wanting to convey to your viewer, are you accomplishing that well?

Blog Post Before and AfterThe Photo As A Whole

When we talk about landscape photography, we are speaking of a true landscape, a vast and wide moment in time. How can you possibly capture everything in that moment? Most don’t frankly. You use a wide angle to capture the entire portrait, but completely miss a focal point. Or they try to capture a focal point and completely miss what is happening in the foreground. It is truly best to understand what you are wanting to convey; a rock, a skyline, a storm rolling in, a herd of deer and focus. Do you really need an expansive sky in the foreground if the focus is the deer? If you are shooting a storm, why is the flat land taking up 75% of the photo? Make sure you are focus and then focus your camera.


Here are some additional tips on how to avoid major mistakes:

The Beauty of Black & White: “The Tree”

“The Tree” taken in Tuscany, winner of the Best Photo Piece of the 2014 Arkansas PPA  that captures a truly amazing scene in nature visible by Google Earth. The colorful image depicts a lone tree on a hillside with clouds moving overhead, but what happens when we alter to black and white?


B&W photography is all about emotion, texture and shapes. Without color, the viewer focuses on entirely different elements such as the commanding position of the tree on the hill, the texture of the wheat and the dramatic movement of the clouds. Also, by removing color, any context or bias associated with the color is gone. You as the viewer are forced to look deeper into the photograph and see the emotion.

The beauty of emotion is the intensely personal relationship formed between the viewer and the piece; some will see an intensely haunting image reminiscent of pain and sorrow while others will be brought to a private place of peace and serenity.

It’s up to you as the artist to introduce the viewer to the range of emotion that only black and white photography can deliver. So the question is: What do you see?

2014 Award Highlights

It’s turned golden here at Ed Cooley Fine Art.

Now that award season is wrapping up for 2014 we thought we would share some of the top honors in Ed’s best award season ever. With these kinds of accolades, it’s easy to see why Ed has become America’s most award winning fine art photographer!  Since Ed began his career in 2011 he has won more awards than any other fine art photographer.

PPA Intl Print Competition – Gold Medal Photographer
PSA International Exhibition – Gold Medal and Best of Show
International Pano Awards – Gold Medal and Finalist
Southwest PPA: Arkansas’ Top Photographer
Arkansas PPA: Best of Show, 1st Place and Best Photo Decor

Epson Pano Awards Gold Medal and Competition Finalist Professional Photographers of America Gold Medal Photographer 2014 PSA Gold Medalist and Best of Show