Dramatic Backdrop

It’s a break for the model in this chapter as Karl decides to shoot some landscapes of the desolate wasteland of Iceland with a super-wide-angle lens and do a few more tests and recces for some potential shots.


  1. Hi Karl,

    Great adventure! Which kind of cloths do you use to clean your lenses please? Is it a common microfibre one sold for general cleaning in supermarkets? Or something special?

    Thank you for all the lessons!

    1. Hi Martina, yes this trip was a blast! I mostly use my tshirt or lens micro fibre cloths, i’m not sure I’d use a supermarket one?

  2. Mr. Taylor, I am very new to filters. Does it matter which order in which they are placed? when you say you placed the polarized filter first (2:28), does that mean the slot closest to the lens or furthest from the lens? From an earlier lesson you placed the 10-stop closest to the filter because it has a built in gasket to prevent light spill – so I assume this is your “first position.” How do you solve the problem of trees, buildings or your subject interfering with your horizon line?

    1. Hi Please find answers to each of your questions
      1. No not really but if you have a polarizer to turn this can be tricky if you have other filters. Technically speaking the polarizer would be better closest to the lens but practically this doesn’t work and I’ve never noticed a difference.
      2. Yes for the 10 stop filter it has to press against the hard part of the filter holder to form a seal with the sponge to stop light leaks
      3. You angle your ND filter and/or choose a soft grad version rather that a hard grad. It’s never perfect but you don’t really notice the transition with a soft grad.

  3. Hi Karl,

    I love your site. Always interesting to watch, even if I don’t do the type of photo that you talk about.

    Question on the polarising filter. Are you using circular or linear polarisation?

    1. Hi, I generally use a Linear one because I’m not worried about it messing up the metering or AF as I do this in manual anyway. I do have a circular polariser too (polarisation method not shape of filter) which is the preferred choice for those wanting their metering and AF to still function correctly.

      1. Hi, I’m impressed with your response time, especially considering how busy you must be, thanks. I only have the Lee 105mm circular and have never used the linear. Is there a difference in the effect it makes? Why do you chose it above the circular? I see you will be talking about polarisation on Thursday, I will definitely watch. Perhaps you can explain the differences.

        1. Hi, we will be looking at a slightly different method of polarisation on Thursday to do with lighting but if I get a chance I’ll cover it. I’ve not noticed any difference in the effectiveness of the polarisation between Linear or Circular.

  4. This is one of those videos that makes me want to skip buying a full frame camera, and start saving money for a medium format system. The colors from that Hasselblad are amazing!

    I really appreciate the care and time that you take to construct each image. This series is great, and the education site as a whole is easily the best photography money I’ve ever spent.

  5. I’m a bit surprised at how well these landscapes came out, considering you don’t sell yourself as a landscape photographer. Another of my favorite British photographers (who I won’t name) makes beautiful portraits but his landscapes are only so-so. These are very nice and remind me a bit of some of the Scottish landscapes by Albert Watson.

    On a separate note, a question about retouching. At what point do you say that an image cannot be salvaged through retouching? You make such an effort to get everything right in camera that I can picture you only working with shots that had been taken perfectly but there must be occasions where the best facial expression or cloud formation are in a shot that is technically inferior in some respect.

    For instance, at what point is the exposure so bad that the shot is unusable? Personally, I find that between -2 and +1 exp is usually okay if I’ve shot at ISO 50. What about focus? What would you do when one can argue that the most interesting part of the shot is somewhere other than the face but the face is out of focus slightly? What about motion blur? You have an excellent action shot, mostly frozen, but you have a little motion blur because you let too much ambient light in. In your case, hard to imagine this but curious what you have to say.

    1. Hi, thank you for your feedback on the landscapes. I’m very critical of what I capture in camera, if I don’t like what I see whether that is exposure, focus or other problem I usually discard the image. I work quite slowly to build my way to a result on one predetermined image so I expect that I will get one of the several of that scene or subject how I hoped for. So the short answer is I only do minimal retouching based on achieving a good capture.

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