Shooting Landscape Photographs

… and why I’ll never be happy with these photos

A couple of months ago, I decided to run a weekend photography walk in the Blue Mountains for my bushwalking club.

Blue Mountains Photography
The Three Sisters & Mt Solitary, Jamison Valley

Due to the normal pace and style of our club’s trips, there’s never usually any time to take photos other than quick snaps with a point and shoot. However, I wanted to stop, take my time and really work through some camera techniques and essentially play in the photography sandpit with my DSLR (Canon M50).

Blue Mountains Photography
Cameras at the ready, waiting for sunrise at Anvil Rock, Grose Valley.

I set some pretty strict rules about the weekend. Firstly, I wasn’t going to be running it as a workshop because I’m no expert. Apart from choosing the locations and setting something of a schedule, the shots, techniques and creative was up to each of us amateur photographers.

As someone who has spent the last 15 years of my life working behind the camera in production, I realised that I’m always being paid to be there for clients and never actually take the time to shoot subjects that interest me. As a mad-keen bushwalker/hiker, it may surprise you that I’ve never shot landscapes or wilderness shots.

Blue Mountains Photography
One of the many waterfalls around Lawson.
Blue Mountains Photography
Playing with depth of field to see things differently.
Blue Mountains Photography
Wishing I had a macro lens, but making do without.
Blue Mountains Photography
Katoomba Falls

Over the weekend, I realised that there’s probably two reasons for that. 1. time and headspace and 2. (… here’s the kicker) a sense that no image I ever capture can ever come close or near close to the actual wonder and awe of the reality.

Almost a sense that every image can only ever hope to be a hopeless imitation, a poor reflection from the mirror inside a camera. No matter how technically or creatively good a photo is, it’s not about that.

Blue Mountains Photography
Scenic Skyway making it’s way across the valley
Blue Mountains Photography
Leura Cascades
Blue Mountains Photography
Clasping and grasping to try and capture reality…

I feel as though it’s tightly connected to the spiritual and unwordable sense of what nature is to me.

Putting aside your beliefs (or lack of them for a minute) Imagine trying to take a photo of God. Or Air. Or a scent… Or love.

On the surface, these things appear not related because you can walk out your door and see the wilderness, parts of nature and touch them. But how much of these places are made up by what you can’t see? What you struggle to describe? What you can never capture in a photo?

And that is why I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied by photos that I take of wild places.

Blue Mountains Photography
Heading down into the Grand Canyon walk.
Blue Mountains Photography
Descending into the Grand Canyon
Blue Mountains Photography
Stairs to Mermaid Cave, Megalong Valley.

Writer, producer and content creator by trade, search and rescue volunteer by passion, Caro Ryan started to inspire, teach and encourage people to get into hiking and the outdoors safely.

It’s all about connecting people to wild places in meaningful ways, so they can look after themselves, their mates and these precious places we visit.

She teaches wilderness navigation, authored the book, ‘How to Navigate’ and hosts, ‘Rescued - an Outdoor Podcast for Hikers and Adventurers.

In the bottom of her pack you'll find coffee grounds, instant noodles past their used by date and an insatiable curiosity.

Bushwalking & Hiking Tips from an Unexpected Outdoors Chick

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