Photographer's Blog

Capturing the magnitude of landscapes with Edwin Martinez

Canon EOS 5DS, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, f/2.8, 16mm, 15sec, ISO 2000
Level 9 Aurora in Jokulsarlon (Glacier Lagoon), Iceland

Nature’s bounty presents itself in many ways, one of them being gorgeous, sprawling vistas that differ dramatically across continents. From the pristine glaciers of the north to barren beauty of the Grand Canyon, Edwin tells us about his adventures and how he manages to capture panorama in all its glory.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/11, 16mm, 2.5sec, ISO 100
Methane Ice bubbles, Abraham Lake, Alberta Canada

As a landscape photographer you are faced with various natural elements. The terrain and weather conditions are the most difficult; you are always at the mercy of these elements. I was shooting the methane ice bubbles found in Abraham lake in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, with temperatures [at] -15 to -20 degrees Celsius that morning, [and] I had to lie down in a frozen lake to get this shot. The Canon EOS 5DS has always been my main workhorse, [and even] with these temperatures, it didn’t pose any problems – it worked perfectly. The live view and exposure simulation are the key features of the 5D [series] that has helped me a lot. Composition is easier and you can get the correct histogram even before pressing the shutter button. 

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/11, 35mm, 0.5sec, ISO 400

This is a photo I took inside a glacier ice cave in Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park on a trip with other photographers. I never had a problem with the camera unlike some of my other colleagues who had mirrorless system that froze and became inoperable.

Photographing landscape requires you to capture details, [and] the Canon 5D system has always produced sharp and crisp photos – a full frame format in a system that you can be mobile and be flexible at any angle. I am always grateful for the 5D series’ weather sealing, I have experienced below-zero temperatures, extreme heat of deserts and raging waves of various coastal scenes and the camera has never failed me.

Canon EOS 5DS, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 19mm, 60sec, ISO 100

This particular shot was taken in Milford Sound in New Zealand. Aside from removing ripples on the water, I was able to capture the movements of the pollen abundant during that season.

With landscapes, each scene is always unique and you will need to apply varying techniques depending on your vision and intentions. One of my most favorite techniques is long exposure on coastal landscapes. You can present a scene that is surreal with glass like water and streaking clouds. Most of my long exposure takes about 2 minutes to 4 minutes.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 16mm, 1.3sec, ISO 160
Ice Beach, Jokulsarlon, Iceland

There are three components that I look for when photographing new landscape, first being light. Dramatic or colorful light is a key component, second being iconic elements in the landscape such as mountain ranges, lakes, etc. Lastly, there is dynamism, which means capturing movement or removing them through long exposures. For example, this shot above was taken in the famous ice beach of Iceland, where huge chunks of ice are washed to the shoreline. I used slow shutter to capture the details of the waves and used the ice as foreground element to show how unique the place is.

Colours as they say can make the photograph, and landscape photographers thrive on capturing scenes during the golden hour, but you don’t always need to rely on that time of day to take great photos. 

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 16mm, 1.6sec, ISO 100

I waited amidst hail and heavy rains in Yellowstone to achieve this shot. The cloud formation you see is known as mammatus clouds, and I managed this after shooting a series of 750 images continuously in order to capture the lightning.

Colours are used as backdrops to enhance the visual frame, but a true challenge is presenting a scene without vibrant colors. I always believed in what Ansel Adams said; There is no bad light only bad photographers. 

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF70-200mm f/4L USM lens, f/7.1, 200mm, 1/800sec, ISO 800

I shot this image in Dyrholaey in Vik, Iceland and again, the weather wasn’t cooperative and there was a storm coming in. However, I used good visual design to present a mood despite the bleak weather.

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/11, 16mm, 5sec, ISO200

When designing a frame for landscape photography, there are some key elements that I look out for. First, are interest layers, the scene has to have various layers of elements such as foreground and middle ground. It provides depth and makes the photo more dimensional. Second, is the inclusion of an iconic element, such as mountains or recognizable landmark. Last is the use of dynamic lines, and most successful composition for landscape photography will always have these geometrics.

For example, this photo was taken when I tested the Canon 5DS R in the Philippines. This is a photo of Mayon Volcano, known for its perfect cone and similarity to Mount Fuji. I used the water hyacinths as layers and complemented it with diagonal lines and the presence of the volcano.

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 16mm, 1/8sec, ISO100

Adding visual mass or objects as anchor points in your photo is a good practice for effective design. Not only it adds as layers of interest but also provide a sense of scale. As long as these life-forms adds to the overall feel of the landscape then I don’t mind having them in my frame. This is a photo of our ice cave guide in Vatnajokull, Iceland. I waited for him to walk by the entrance and took this shot.

Moods are also a very important part of visual design. Incorporating certain moods offer additional impact to a photo. It all boils down to your intentions and techniques. The use of dramatic light, exposure techniques and intermittent weather will provide you with positive results.
 

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens, f/16, 24mm, 1.6sec, ISO 200

This is a photo of lower antelope canyon, with dramatic lighting inside the cave and the use of slow shutter to capture the sand fall made great impact on how the photograph is presented.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 16mm, 180sec, ISO50
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California USA

Another way of enhancing mood is the use of monochrome. The lack of colors adds drama and enhances mood.

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 16mm, 8sec, ISO 100

The use of intermittent weather conditions is also a good way of adding mood to your photo. This shot was taken during an early morning fog. I used a slow shutter to add motion and enhance the drama.

Canon EOS 5DS, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/11, 26mm, 1/30sec, ISO400

This photo was taken in Grand Canyon, Arizona. I wanted to present a unique perspective of a famous tourist spot. I explored the area for about an hour finding a spot where huge trees where present and used it as part of my frame.

Another tip for capturing a unique and amazing image: exploration. Capturing a new perspective of commonly visited place is always THE challenge. I usually explore by myself, but having a guide has its own merits as it saves time and resources. I personally do photography guiding trips with http://www.iceland-photo-tours.com/ , I usually show my clients the iconic spots and then let them explore on their own.

Canon EOS 5DS, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/8, 16mm, 1/8sec, ISO800
A self-portrait inside the secret waterfall in Iceland.

As a professional photographer, most of my gear investment is aimed at quality. I use a full frame camera as this produces the best quality image and lenses such as the Canon TS-E17mm f/4L tilt shift lens for architectural, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens for my landscapes and other L-Series lenses. I charge premium for my work because I use premium gear to get the job done and my clients see this. Ever since the launch of the Canon EOS 5D Mark I, I have been a user of Canon’s full frame system. I believe that the quality of the Canon’s full frame is still the best in the market right now – a mobile system where you can do large format work and get the best results.

I love how the Canon 5D system is built for any assignment or safari. It performs so well and never had any issues while in the field. This, for me is the strength of this system.


Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 19mm, 20sec, ISO100

The grand landscape is always magnificent; each landscape I encounter is unique and has its own appeal.

Edwin Martinez

Edwin Martinez is widely respected as one of the finest landscape photographers the Philippines has ever produced. His vast experience shooting different locales in his home country and abroad - in Iceland, Canada, The American West, among others - have cemented for Edwin an undisputed distinction of expertise in the field of photography. He is a Canon Philippines Brand Ambassador, a pro gallery photographer for Singh-Ray Filters of America, a National Geographic adventurer contributor and constant presence in both local and international photography publications. Furthermore, he is also major partner in Iceland’s number one photography tour and workshop, http://www.iceland-photo-tours.com. Edwin also co-facilitates the Philippine's premiere landscape photography course, Chasing Light Workshop. He likewise leads photography tours to the most challenging and stunning locations around the world. Edwin is a sought after speaker and instructor and also shoots for several high profile companies. He is an inspiration for this generation's band of photographers and many wait for photos from his next adventures.

https://www.facebook.com/EdwinMartinezPhotography
https://500px.com/EdwinMartinez
http://edwinmartinezphoto.com/

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