On the couch with landscape photographer Jane Barnes

Big skies add another dimension to the vast beauty of Kakadu | Peter Walton
Big skies add another dimension to the vast beauty of Kakadu | Peter Walton
Landscape photographer Jane Barnes, who alongside Peter Walton, is leading the Kakadu photography trip in 2018. Jane's extensive experience and passion for photography has developed over the years. Her ability to capture the beauty of the landscape and the essence of people in their locations is one of her many impressive talents. We picked her brain to find out what inspires her the most, how she prepares for photography shoots, as well as her top 5 practical tips for photographers interested in landscape photography.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Photography has been life changing for me, particularly in the last 10 years.  It has ‘opened my eyes’, and given me amazing opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. I have always been interested in photography and in my ‘previous life’ as an Ophthalmic Assistant/Orthoptist, I frequently photographed the back of the eyes (the retina) at Ophthalmology practices. I always had a burning desire to do more photographically. 10 years ago, I enrolled in a photography course at the local camera club.  I became a passionate member involved in every aspect of the club. I was nurtured, mentored and then encouraged to participate in competitions, initially at club level, which then led to National and International competitions. To my utter delight, I have achieved considerable success in these contests. Photography has given me the opportunity to participate in a variety of events, meet interesting and inspiring people, and travel extensively.

What inspired you to get into landscape photography?

I love the outdoors and the beauty of what’s out there. We take so many things for granted, but capturing the delights of the landscape, whether at our backdoor or further afield, provides an insight and time to connect with the world around us. Away from the hustle, bustle and routine of daily life, it makes you relax and breathe with ease. I pause, I listen, my eyes soak up what surrounds me, and I consider and appreciate the simpler things in life. 

How do you prepare before going on a shoot (camera equipment & locations)?

Camera Equipment: At least a month before a trip, I check my equipment. This usually allows enough time to replace items, eg filters, battery, or even have the camera cleaned to ensure there is no dust on the sensor. When travelling, it is a definite advantage to know your equipment, both camera and tripod (if taking one). I have experienced people buying a new camera just prior to a trip, and then struggling and missing opportunities during the holiday because they had not yet become familiar with the controls. With a tripod, make sure you have the right quick release plate and know how to quickly ‘unfold’ the tripod ready to use. Think about its weight, particularly if there is a fair amount of walking. Other considerations are:
  • Having 2 batteries, the spare being fully charged at all times.
  • Memory cards … how many and what size do I need? I always travel with my laptop so I can download images every night. Hence I usually only carry 2 cards, 32 Gig each.
  • Don’t be loaded down with too much equipment.
Location: When planning a trip, things that are taken into account are:
  • Ideal weather conditions, eg visiting Kakadu, but not in the wet season.
  • What season do I want to experience, e.g., spring flowers, autumn colours, snow in the alps.
  • Points of interest in the local area or on the way to the destination.
  • Tides, phases of the moon, lighting conditions.
  • Events in local areas.
  • Availability of accommodation.

How do you know you got the shot you wanted?

  • Before taking a shot, I think about what I want to capture … what is the main focus of the image?
  • I often take multiple shots, a wide angle distant view, and then I zoom in for a tighter, more detailed shot.
  • Review the image on the back of the camera. Sometimes I’ll zoom in on the screen to magnify the image and check its clarity.
  • I look at the histogram.


What is the most important advice you would like to give others for making a good landscape photograph?

  • What is the point of interest? What is the visual story you want to convey?
  • Think about the foreground interest, the middle ground and the background.
  • Think about balance, i.e., how various elements within the image relate to each other.
  • Space and separation between the elements. Slight changes of viewpoint can make a big difference to the final composition.
  • Be constantly aware of the direction and quality of the light.

Who were the mentors who helped shape your practice?

I enrolled in an Introduction to Photography course at my local camera club. This course included membership to the club for the rest of the year, which enabled me to consolidate what I had learnt. A gentleman who founded the club took me under his wing and continued to teach me more aspects of photography as well as introducing me to software to enhance my images. I was continually encouraged and supported by John, as well as many members of the club. I then had the good fortune to go on a landscape photography trip to some beautiful national parks in the USA. This tour was being led by 2 incredible Australian landscape photographers, one being Peter Walton. The rest is history….. 

What is your favourite place for landscape photography and why. Where to next?

This is a hard question. I don’t think I have a specific location, but I love the mountains and the sea, and the simplicity of a location. You can go to the same location, and every time it is different. The effects of the seasons, light, weather, mood, all come into play. I am in awe of the fragility and isolation of places. Where to next ... I would like to experience Scandinavia and the northern lights or the highlands of Scotland. 

5 quick practical tips for landscape photography

  1. First of all, look around you, including behind you. Ask yourself, ‘What is this picture going to be about?’ This is key to a successful image.
  2. Which lens will I use, e.g., a wide-angle, medium angle or narrow angle (telephoto).
  3. Also consider whether moving your camera position sideways or up and down will help to further emphasize, separate or clarify some of the key elements of the image.
  4. Try to get the horizon straight … grid lines on the screen are very helpful with this.
  5. Consider the effect the time of day is having on the scene. In the middle of the day, light is typically harsh and unflattering. Early or late light is usually better, especially as it tend to emphasize texture. Be aware of the direction of the light, i.e., front light, back light, side light as this will influence how the scene is rendered.

Some people think that landscape photography is repetitive. What is your opinion on that?

Revisiting a location is different every time. The only constant in life is change. Changes are influenced by time, the different seasons, the time of day, phases of the moon and the weather to name a few. When at a particular location and travelling with others, I am constantly amazed how each person can see and experience something different. Some see the ‘big picture’ while others may hone in on a particular aspect of the scene. Landscape photography is never boring or repetitive. 

Are there any challenges you face in making landscape photographs, and what are they?

  • Constantly changing weather and the effects of climate change.
  • Capturing a different view of a familiar scene.
  • Capturing a different perspective, including aerial views with drones.

Find out more about how you can join Jane and Peter on their exclusive Kakadu Photography tour, departing 2018.  This classic exploration of Kakadu National Park's best secret spots stayslocal accommodation in the heart of Kakadu with famed photographer Peter Walton and Jane Barnes. Unleash your inner photographer while exploring the Northern Territory's pristine Kakadu region. Rather than technical camera talk, this tour will focus primarily on the “artistry of photography”, delving into composition, lighting, focus / interest points and choosing your lenses. During this six day tour Peter will be discussing and giving practical demonstrations on the process he believes is vital for creating great images. Peter and Jane will also demonstrate a fourth step, how they apply easy to use (and inexpensive) software for applying artistic treatments that give images a unique hand crafted look. 

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