Today we’re excited to have Robert-Paul Jansen explain us how he shoots. RP is a master when it comes to shooting landscapes and creating beautiful atmospheres through composition and light. Here he explains us how he sees an image, what apps he uses for processing and why the five elements play a crucial role in his photography.
How I shoot landscapes
Some think the iPhone is not the best tool for landscape photography, but I disagree. The field of view corresponds to a 30mm lens (on a 35mm film camera) which is good for landscapes. And the most important thing: with an iPhone I always have a camera in my pocket, waiting to capture those tiny details around us. It really isn’t any different from street photography. It’s a cliché, but so true.
When I started using the iPhone camera in 2010 I started to document the surroundings of where I live. I live in a small village in the south of the Netherlands, where we have a lot of nature around us, so I used my iPhone whenever I saw something that I thought was worth capturing. Mostly resulting in landscapes.
The elements around us are changing all the time. Elements like light and weather can change within seconds. Having a camera with you all the time really helps to capture that one magnificent moment. Of course, the iPhone has it’s limitations. But those limitations really helped me to grow in photography and made me see possibilities in certain circumstances. I never zoom and have to play with exposure to get the photo right. With these limitations I have learned a lot on composition and light.
Apps I use
I usually use Camera+ to take photographs. I have gotten used to Camera+ as my main camera app as I have been using it since it came out. I’ve heard the Apple Camera improved and has become better. And lately I discovered Mattebox, which is a supercool app by Ben Syverson. Really loving its simple UI and it has got some intuitive controls in both taking photos and editing. When the 2.0 version is coming out live preset view will be introduced, so black&white shooters will see the world in black&white through the viewfinder using this app.
However, I don’t process that much. Usually I just run the photos through CrossProcess and Snapseed or Mattebox. Filterstorm is used to do the more extended processing like curves etcetera. A RAW/untouched landscape photo can be done on the iPhone, but it’s very hard because of the limitations of the camera lens. I also like to give my photos that special look that I can create with a combination of my favorite apps.
Bracket Mode is an app any mobile landscape photographer must have. The iPhone camera has its limits. With the iPhone lens you got either a blown out sky or a dark foreground. Bracket Mode takes care of this. It takes two photos with seperate exposure which you can bring together with apps like FilterStorm or ProHDR. You can choose to do this manual or automatic. I always choose manual so I can play with the light. And yes, you can use ProHDR or TrueHDR to take photos but BM is much easier to use and superfast. Another advantage is that I can process my photos later.
I also dig some of the new EyeEm filters. Especially Gundlach, Earlgrey, Cabu, Silk and the classic border.
Besides the apps I really love The Glif, an accessory I use a lot. It makes it possible to mount the iPhone 4(s) to a tripod or monopod. When using different exposure on two separate photos you have to hold the camera very still. Glif will take care of that.
The Five Elements
Using an iPhone as my main camera has taught me a lot about the elements that influence a photo in general. Because you have it with you all the time, you automatically take more photos and all in different weather conditions. That experience has made me more aware of these elements and how to use them to create the best possible results both in shooting and processing. Learning to see a landscape opportunity is just by doing it a lot. I guess it’s like doing street photography. You’ll learn more when you shoot 200 photos in all conditions per week than 20 photos on a sunny day. I do have to learn a lot more, so I’ll keep shooting!
When I am going out to take photographs the elements I wrote about before also influence where I am going that day. I look around and study the clouds, weather, light and then I decide what scene will fit best with the conditions.
Hazy weather with sunrise? The woods are perfect for that. Lots of clouds and bright sky make those clouds appear as a reflection on the surface of the river. When the weather is a bit dark and gray I avoid the woods because it would be too dark and I would go out in the open fields.
The elements really are the same as the classical elements, and can be found clockwise in the collage from top-left fire(light), wind (weather), water (reflection), earth (earth) that will have it’s effect on the choosen composition which can be seen as the fifth element air/void.