Composition and Art Category Archive

Understanding Chiaroscuro in Photography

I think that photographers can learn a lot from classic works of art – not only by early photographers, but also from painters, sculptors, and other artists who lived before photography was even a twinkle in Nicéphore Niépce’s eye. One technique that is especially applicable to photography is called chiaroscuro.

How Many Good Photos from a Trip Is a Success?

I’ve gone on two photography trips recently with very different results.  The first trip led mostly to duds, aside from a single portfolio-quality image. The second led to dozens of publishable shots and multiple for my portfolio. It made me wonder what counts as a successful photography trip at all.

When and Why to Make a Photo Black and White

I’m a fan of black and white photography. A lot of subjects that fall short in color look evocative and powerful when captured in shades of gray. But it’s not always easy to decide if a photo should be color or black and white. Today, I’ll explain how I choose.

What You Leave Out of the Photo

Composition, as it’s usually explained, is the way you arrange the visual elements within a photo. But that definition misses something. A large portion of what’s important when composing a photo isn’t within the photo at all. Instead, it’s the bits outside the frame that are completely excluded from the image.

What to Photograph When There’s Too Much to Photograph

Last year, I wrote an article about finding subjects to photograph when there isn’t anything obvious to shoot. That’s a common situation in photography: not enough good subjects. Sometimes, however, the opposite is true, where there’s an abundance of good subjects and not enough time to photograph them all.

Living Within Your Dynamic Range

One of the quieter revolutions in digital image quality has been dynamic range. The days of picking between highlight detail and shadow detail are gone; almost any modern camera can capture both simultaneously with ease. But even though this capability is remarkable, it’s also easy to overuse.

What Is Composition? A Photographer’s Guide

I’m in the process of updating Photography Life’s full-length, multi-article tutorial about composition. This article is Chapter 2 of the guide, where I’m introducing and defining composition – including what makes some compositions succeed while others fail.

What to Photograph When There’s Nothing to Photograph

I’m on the annual Photography Life fall colors workshop with Nasim, and our group ran into a tricky photographic situation this morning. A beautiful mountain overlook was completely blocked by clouds at sunrise, ruining any photos we had in mind. Time to pack it up and go home? Not quite.