So, some of my younger students asked the question...."Do I need to travel to make great images" ? The answer is no! Can it help....of course. However, there have been many, many photographs over many years which are recorded just around the corner. The greatness of an appealing image is perspective, composition, lighting and the story (mood) it tells. A great image needs no explanation...I reiterate "A great image needs no explanation" ! Most anyone albeit an enthusiast, pro or beginner can set a modern digital camera (even cellphones) on auto in front of a spectacular mountain or seaside sunset and snap a photo! Of course detail, color and lighting exposure (time of day) go without saying, this is part of what I teach. In reality most photographers capture landscape images to document or journal and to show off their travels "I was here then". Often without thought. We all see those magnificent locations photographed from some iconic location and viewpoint. Be sure to ask yourself before you click that shutter, will this stand out from the thousands of other photo's shot from where I stand...?
You most certainly can not make a mundane landscape composition better with software (HDR, layers, etc.) The popular use of high dynamic range images are a dime a dozen. Not that it is possible to help the lighting, but most will over do it crating a surreal scene and completely missing the true majesty that could have been captured.
The real art of a great image is to create a mood, a story, an emotional bond with the viewer. To touch that button within one's memory. To do this you might setup the scene, arrange the view, create the lighting and manipulate the subject. This will be the true art of photography. Today modern software allows for composite images created in one's mind. They create a story, a feeling and interpretation of life at that moment, life in one's imagination.
The very nature of social media, facebook, instagram, flickr, etc. are littered with such. Landscapes that create excitement for the purveyor are numerous in the landscape genre. We see these long descriptions
Is it possible for you to make a great image by what's around you? Certainly! Just ask Gordon Lang, Bart Raymaker, Steve McCurry, Robert Capa, Alfred Stieglitz and many, many others. See Ansel Adams who mostly used monochrome film to allow you to focus on the composition, lighting and shapes within the image, not just the colors
So the next time you bring out your camera think of an image that is unique, moody and says something. Avoid the usual landscape that so many others have pursued to no real inspiring interpretation....people and things are unique at every moment in life.
So the next time you stand on the edge of a mountain, along the seaside at sunrise, capture that sunset over a beautiful cascade...ask yourself...what can I do to make this image create a story without words? Am I standing in the best spot, using the right lens, have my white balance creatively set, is this the best time of the day, what will make this photo standout from the seven other photographers on either side of me. Change it up experiment, move around and change your settings...another wards, think creatively, don't just document the scene, imagine it and make it yours, not explanation needed, now click that shutter!