Interview – with landscape photographer Stacy William Head

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In this post I am interviewing Stacy William Head from Canada, who is a fantastic landscape photographer I first met on Instagram. He posts beautiful landscape photographs such as the one above and is someone I  find highly inspiring. Keep reading below to find out more about him and his journey as a photographer.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I live in Alberta, Canada in a small mountain area known as Crowsnest Pass. I enjoy exploring and photographing the area I live in, as well as the National Parks that are close such as Banff, Jasper and Waterton.”

2. How did you get into photography?

“About 4 years ago I first joined Instagram with a private account and started to notice the amazing images on there. I was especially drawn to the surreal look that can be achieved through the use of long exposure. It wasn’t until we moved out of the city into the mountains about two years ago that I really became interested. At first I started learning all I could on composition through books and videos and applied these techniques with my cell and GoPro camera. After a few months I decided it was something I really wanted to pursue further and got my first DSLR.”

3. What do you like most about landscape photography?

“Probably the combination of getting out in nature in amazing places – popular or hidden gems – to try and capture special moments in time and the feelings they instil. Then being able to relive those frozen moments through editing and also being able to share this with others.”

4. What is your favourite place you’ve taken pictures of?

“That’s a tough question – there are so many places in Alberta to explore – but I would probably pick Banff and Jasper National Parks. I have also been to Iceland and that is like a different world but its hard to compare the two.”

5. When you head out on a shoot, what equipment would you never be without?

“A quality sturdy tripod, trigger release and filter kit. I usually never shoot without those. My main camera is a Nikon D810 paired with a Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G lens.”

6. What was your proudest/most satisfying moment in photography?

“I recently got a shot from Moraine Lake in Banff that I have wanted for about a year and also a shot of an unreal sunset from one of my favourite local areas where I live. I will describe those later with pictures. Some of the other favourite locations I have shot would be Oregon and Iceland.”

7. What tips do you have for taking beautiful landscape photographs?

“There are many things, of course, I still have to learn, but some of the basics I always try to follow are:

  • Practice lots. With today’s cameras, we have the advantage of basically unlimited shooting, plus we can review each shot quickly after taken and make adjustments to the composition and other settings if needed. This will allow you to learn what settings work best with your camera and lens (and also filters).
  • Use a wide angle lens – I use a 16-35mm Nikkor (if you shoot with a camera phone consider a wide angle lens attachment), and always try to first select a good foreground or anchor point for the eye, that stands out or distinguishes itself from its surroundings.
  • Shoot low and close to the foreground – depending on the size of it of course. For something small like leaves, you may have to get just a few inches from it. This will give more depth and a three-dimensional feel to the image. Try experimenting with this to see the difference a low shot close to the foreground makes compared to a higher shot.
  • Try to think in layers – foreground, midground and background, and also lines that lead into those elements. If your shot has those elements and the right balanced light (preferably sunrise or sunset) you will usually be more satisfied with the resulting image. This can make the difference between a good shot or great shot.
  • Take as many different shots as you can with different settings and compositions. I usually spend at least an hour per location (waterfall etc). This is very important for me, especially if I have travelled quite a distance to that location and usually why I shoot alone :). Whenever I rush my shots I usually do not get a shot I like.
  • Usually, the simplest composition is the best, with no distracting elements to add clutter or distract the eye moving through the scene – but this is not always easy.
  • Lastly – take some time and enjoy the moment in nature.”

8. Do you have any tips for editing landscape photographs?

“I primarily use Adobe Lightroom and would suggest just sticking to that if you are just starting out in editing. There are many tutorials online for learning Lightroom – my favourites are from Anthony Morganti and Serge Ramelli.

I believe Photoshop can also make an image much better in certain cases ( focus stacking, composites etc) and for removing unwanted elements in some shots ( a distracting stick, person etc).”

9. For someone starting out, what advice would you give them?

“While a better camera and especially lens/filters will make a better image in the end – at first I would suggest focusing more on composition and editing. I have seen some people get top of the line equipment, get frustrated with it and give up after a few months. Start smaller – shoot lots – edit lots. Always try to learn through books, online videos, studying some of your inspiring photographers work and also perhaps a photo tour.

Many photographers list the settings they use on their Instagram posts ( exposure time, focal length, filters used etc ) and I found this very helpful in learning. I also try to include this in my posts since I have received good feedback about this.”

10. Which places are on your bucket list?

“Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and Hawaii. Oh and also Iceland again – can always use more Iceland.”

11. Can you share some of your favourite photographs below and write a small sentence about each…

“As mentioned in the beginning, probably my two favourites were this year in Alberta. In both cases, the optimum conditions lasted for less than five minutes so it was very rewarding to be there to capture it.

This first shot of Moraine Lake in Banff was a long exposure – I have wanted to get the clouds like this for a while at this location. Even though its a very popular location – probably the most photographed location in Canada – its still a great feeling to get your own shot of this landscape.”

Moraine Lake in Banff
Moraine Lake in Banff | © Stacy William Head

“This second shot from Crowsnest Lake with the sunbeams was a standard exposure taken in aperture priority – I just used a 3-stop soft grad filter to balance the sky. I have visited this lake often for sunrise/sunset over the past two years and that’s the best sunset I have seen there.”

Crowsnest Lake
Crowsnest Lake | © Stacy William Head


Stacy William Head
Stacy is a landscape photographer based in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. His work usually incorporates long exposure techniques to create images that convey a sense of depth along with the passage of time.
Twitter: @sentinelshots
Facebook: @sentinelphoto

Comment from: Travel and Destinations/ Mike

Thank you so much for your fantastic answers Stacy. If you would like to see more of Stacy’s stunning work, head to the links above in his bio.

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