Streamlining your landscape photography workflow

IMG_9020 - original

Starting off here with an image as captured in-camera. It’s winter here in the Cape, which -at times- makes for difficult conditions for landscape photography. I thought the scene had enough elements going for it to warrant a photo, so I framed and captured it as shown above.

Not going to dwell on the photography process here.

The time invested in photographing landscapes is significant. There are few shortcuts to that side of the process, and invariably you will regret those later when reviewing your work. The labour of love doesn’t stop there though, once you have your image downloaded onto your computer there are potentially many more hours of work that lies ahead. All of us are familiar with the sensation of looking up from an image that we wanted to give just a few minor tweaks to discover that 4 hours had disappeared and there are a dozen similar photos we still wanted to tweak. If you’re a LightRoom user there is some relief in syncing settings from one image across a set of image, but there are several limitations to that approach. While I like the non-destructive nature of LightRoom, I prefer the power and nuance of Photoshop (the layer and mask functionality, in particular).

A golden mid-way solution is being offered by Sleeklens. For the serious image-maker it is the equivalent of LightRoom presets, within the Photoshop environment. Sleeklens have a variety of packages, including a “Landscape Adventure” collection. The package includes dozens of Photoshop actions, grouped together in straightforward categories. Simply import the actions and choose the ones you wish to apply to a particular image. Running an action results in non-destructive layers which can be applied at variable opacity and/or masked to your personal preference.

Workflow-wise this means a significant time-saving. It is now possible with the click of a few actions to quickly determine what type of effects best suit a particular image.

Thus in a few minutes I could take the image above and create the image below, which is a much better representation of the mood of the scene when I was there:

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At the time of writing, the Landscape Adventure collection was being offered by Sleeklens for $49 – which is great value for money if your time is your most valuable commodity.

I’ll end this blog of with a before and after of another image taking on the same day.

Out of camera:

IMG_9031 - original

After a few quick tweaks with from Sleeklens actions:
IMG_9031 - colour

Mountain cabin – June 2013

Those who have known darkness
cherish the light.
Some need both.
They turn their eyes to the night sky
with hearts open wide
to embrace – with equal ecstasy –
all of that vast blackness
and all the billions of stars.

And never could he explain
to the creatures of the night
nor the saints of the day
that he loved walking in darkness
because he loved the light.

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Last Sunday I had the sudden urge to shoot on the beach since stormy weather had been predicted for the following day. I made a general casting call via my Facebook profile and quickly collected a group of people willing to collaborate on short notice. Sometimes you just have to do things spontaneously and allow others (and yourself!) to surprise you.ImagePhotography by me – HJ Lombard –

Model: Lisa

Makeup: Nicole Grant

Hair: Bronwen Tamary Gazzard

Lighting assistant: Dorette-Marianne Grobler

What are my rates?

Just got the following email:


I’m curious to know what your average rates are, and if you bill by the project or by the hour.”

How much a photographer charges – and why – is worthy of a blog entry. Not that it’s not been discussed elsewhere, but hopefully if enough professionals repeat the same basic principles, then it’ll become common knowledge.

So, how much do I charge?

It depends.

The short answer is that I calculate my rates at R500 per hour (of shooting) (that’s approximately US$60), in order to realistically cover all of my overheads as well as the additional hours spent on research, admin, correspondence, image processing and file-handling. That is also what my market can realistically sustain. Of course if there is excessive pre- or post-production I will bill R500 per hour for that additional work. This is what applies here in Cape Town, South Africa – things are going to be slightly different in New York City or Base Station 10, Antarctica.

Certain clients prefer to be billed per time and others per project, but internally I calculate based on what I know my hourly rate should be… it’s the only consistent and responsible way to run a photography business.

Of course I’m flexible, so will happily negotiate fees with clients in a way that satisfies both parties (sometimes that means that I refer them to another photographer whose work in that particular field is of a good standard and who may be willing to offer a reduced rate).

Final usage of the images has a major impact on rates. Clients who intend to use images commercially have higher demands and bigger budgets, whilst private individuals seeking images for personal use are generally working on a more limited budget. It is only reasonable that if a client intends to spend hundreds of thousands, or even millions on the printing, publishing, distribution and promotion of something featuring a photographer’s work, that the photographer be paid a fair percentage.

That’s the basic rate – things get a little more complicated when travel, special equipment, studio or special location, effects and makeup need to be added. If I need to arrange that, then I will have to bill in order to pay the people I subcontract, which would include compensation for myself for the time spent making these arrangements. The use of lighting and camera equipment is included in my basic rate, but I know that many photographers bill clients a separate rate/s for that.


And that’s it, without getting too complicated.

Please contact me if you’d like to discuss your project and my rates (my email and phone details are provided under ‘Contact’ at

Magic, love and insomnia

I do a very limited number of wedding shoots – one or two a year. Tonight was one of those and what a beautiful and entertaining event it turned out to be. It’s a powerful experience to witness people declare their love in front of their friends and family.

It’s 2am and I’m wide awake… I don’t want to go to bed and let go of the magic of an evening like this.

But I have photos! And my 2nd shooter (Ashleigh-Marie) got excellent shots as well. And looking at them takes me right back into those enchanted moments… so here I sit, soaking up the magic while I listen to old school rock tunes.