There’s a common misconception in photography that you see repeated across photography sites and forums: that the camera you are using makes a difference to the photos you produce.
Sure, for certain kinds of photography, like sports, your camera can make a difference, but for us landscape photographers, not so much.
For myself, I only realised this after getting a better camera and finding that it didn’t magically make me a better photographer. A better camera can make it a little easier to get the photo you had in mind, but we are only talking about thin margins here.
And I should confess that even knowing this, whenever I hear about a new camera with some new features and a new sensor and new everything, some part of me still thinks that maybe this is what I need to access those photos I want to take but haven’t.
Because this is what it all comes down to: the photos we take aren’t as good as those we have in our minds. Other people, using those new cameras, can take fantastic photos, but us, with our old cameras, can’t.
So in your head, you think, if I switch then maybe I’ll take those fantastic photos too. But if you do, you don’t.
The truth is that the system you use plays almost no part in the end result (providing you know how to use whatever camera setup you have).
Tech is not worth worrying about. I get why we think it’s important, because it’s so much easier to compare quantifiable technical characteristics like shadow noise than it is to compare personal, creative choices. But it’s these choices that we make, both in camera and during processing that matter for our final photos, not our equipment, so you will almost always be better off learning to use what you have, rather than switching.
How I Made This Photo
This is the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest. During the day it’s full of busy tourists taking selfies, eating ice cream and doing all those things that you only ever seem to do on holiday but never at home, but walking up to it in the dark, ready for sunrise, you are totally alone and free to watch the sun rise over Budapest with only the pigeons for company. There’s something magical about getting up before dawn in some huge city and feeling like the whole place is your own personal playground.
The processing of this photo began, as always, in Lightroom, using the Lightroom Develop System. I actually made only very minor changes to both exposures, increasing exposure, reducing the whites and highlights and boosting the shadows and blacks, as well as adding clarity. I made some slight saturation and luminance boosts to the reds, yellows, oranges and blues, but both exposures were largely left as shot.
In Photoshop, I used the Time Blending process to blend both exposures into one. It took a little bit of free handed painting to get the blend between streetlight and sunrise correct on the inside of the archway, but I’m happy with the end result.
I used saturation masks adjust colour balance and contrast according to the get colours like the pros tutorial, then I ran the pro contrast and highlights glow actions found in the free Photoshop Colour Control ActionPack.
If you want to create them yourself, without using the actions, take a look at the end of the Landscapes Masterclass tutorial. I finished the photo with a little bit of dodging and burning and the shadows sharpening action.