5 Tips for Improving Your Landscape Photography Compositions

Whether you are exclusively a landscape photographer or simply someone who likes to capture awesome shots of just about anything, landscape photography can be an excellent way to hone your ability to put together a composition. Lots of subjects that result in excellent shots require a photographer to react quickly in order to capture a moment that will be gone in mere seconds. A landscape, on the other hand, comes with a stillness that allows that same photographer to stop,…

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What is the Rule of Thirds?

One of the most popular ways to compose your photographs is to use the rule of thirds. Although the rule of thirds is frequently used by photographers, not everyone understands exactly what it is or when it works. This article introduces the rule of thirds and explains when to use it for composition (or not). Keep in mind that this rule is a suggestion for beginners and those who struggle with properly composing their pictures, and it is far from…

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What Makes a Good Photo?

The simplest question in photography is also the most complex: What makes a good photo? It isn’t enough to say that a good photo comes from its lighting, composition, subject, and so on; this question has a deeper answer. Good images – as different as they may be from one another – all stem from the same roots: The photographer has a strong goal for the photo, then expresses that goal in the most effective possible way.

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How Light Creates Emotion in Photography

At the end of the day, there’s only one reason why people like good photos. It’s a simple concept, really, but it also forms the foundation for all of photography. Emotion. For a photo to succeed, it has to resonate with your viewer. That could happen for a number of reasons, ranging from your subject to your composition. But the strongest tool to capture emotion is far more fundamental than that — it is, quite simply, your light.

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Understanding Composition: Beyond the Rule of Thirds

Composition is critical. If you want to take powerful photos, it’s one of the most important parts of photography. Still, a lot of photographers start out only hearing about the rule of thirds, and they never go more in depth on how to compose better photos. The good news is that you can learn more about composition — and you should. It’s a deep topic, and there’s no way to cover everything in just one article, but I’ll do my…

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Landscape Photography Composition Tips

How is it that two photographers can visit the same landscape at the same time, but one of them manages to take a better photo? It’s not about equipment, or camera settings, or sharpness. Instead, it’s all about composition. Composition is how you arrange the elements of your photograph to guide a viewer’s eye. How do you pick a good composition for your landscape photos? There are two elements that matter more than anything else: simplicity and visual weight. In…

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The Importance of Simplicity, Patterns and Details

When my wife and I are out and about on a photography tour I like to let my mind wander and keep my eyes ‘fresh’ so I don’t get too locked in on one particular type of image composition. We recently spent a couple of weeks in Nova Scotia doing some field work for an eBook project. Since the emphasis of that endeavour is landscape, seascape and shoreline photography we did focus the majority of our time on those subjects.…

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Composition Tip: Give Your Subjects Breathing Space

Composition, in general, can seem like a fuzzy concept to many photographers. Trying to frame an image in a way that “works” is not something that is intuitive, even for people who have been taking pictures for years. And, unlike other aspects of photography — focusing, selecting a sharp aperture, exposing properly — composition has no correct answer. The best you can do is to create something that looks good to you, or looks good to your intended audience. Still,…

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Minimalism in Photography: The Good and Bad

As people look at photos on smaller and smaller screens, there has been a growing trend towards taking photos that are more and more minimalist. Especially on platforms like Instagram, minimalism is exploding; it’s everywhere, and it has been for a while now. There are some pros and cons of minimalism, and I have mixed feelings about how common this trend has become, but there’s no denying its popularity. In this article, I’ll cover some of the main reasons you’d want…

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The Simple Act of Walking

A path to the discovery of self. We’ve all seen it. Photographs pour fourth like a never-ending stream as wave after wave of photographers visit the same tired spots trying to put down their mark. Every photo seems to literally vibrate with dramatic lines, amped color, and skies ablaze with crimson light. Enough already!

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A Study in Light, Directionality and Mood

In the first of a series of follow-up articles to The Quality of Light, I have posted this article to share a series of photographs (along with the thought processes behind them) that I hope will accentuate the interplay of light, directionality, shadows, and mood in landscape photography. As previously discussed, the directionality of light is a powerful factor in defining the quality of shadows, the contrast, textures, and three-dimensionality of a scene, as well as the mood and emotion that…

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What is Fine Art Photography?

People frequently ask me what exactly is fine art photography? Before I answer, I usually take a big breath and brace myself to answer the question in the time it takes to ride a few floors in an elevator as they usually expect a quick answer. And, despite my apprehension to answering their question, I have come to realize that most good answers are the ones that are simple and direct. Hence, I begin by clarifying that fine art photography…

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Rule of Thirds: Does It Really Work?

Perhaps you read our composition tips for landscape photography and realized something interesting: It never mentions the rule of thirds. If you aren’t familiar with this technique, you’re rare — the rule of thirds is, by far, the most common rule of composition you’ll find in photography. But does it actually work? Can it really improve your images? The truth is more complex than you may think.

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What is Landscape Photography?

The most fundamental part of taking good landscape photos is knowing what landscape photography is in the first place. I’m not talking about dictionary definitions here, either — what matters is how it works in practice. So, what is landscape photography, and why is it so amazing?

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The Quality of Light

In a follow-up to a previous article, “A Study in Vision, Light, and Shadows”, I decided to share my thoughts and experiences on my most inspiring topic in photography – light. For simplicity, I decided to write about light in a narrow context from the perspective and experience of a landscape photographer, since outdoors scenes are what I gravitate to. Much of the analysis and discussion that follows is equally applicable to other genres of photography, such as portraits, macro, still-life,…

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The Question of “Good Enough” Image Quality

One of the largest debates in the world of photography is split into two main camps. On one side are people who strive to take photos with the highest technical level of image quality — in everything from their equipment to their camera settings — for most of their photos. The other side of the debate says that photographs are more about the subject and emotion of the scene, and the image quality is only a minor factor. Neither side is…

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Why Good Photographers Take Bad Photos

Have you ever seen a spectacular image and been flabbergasted when you saw that the photographer was an amateur – and they used their phone? Or looked at the website of a pro only to be disappointed by a slew of boring photos? Maybe you know someone who knows everything about photography has has perfect technique, yet still takes lacklustre images. Counterintuitively, being good at photography does not guarantee good photos.

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A Rainbow and a Waterfall at Sunrise: The Making of a Photograph

After a week in Ireland, I have seen some incredible sights. This is a beautiful country, and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. Although most days here have been rainy, I’ve tried to make the most of foggy landscapes and simply enjoy my time in such a unique place. However, the weather has made it difficult to take colorful sunrise and sunset photos, which is a bit unfortunate — it is no secret that golden hour is a wonderful time to take pictures. Still, there has been…

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Introducing Composition in Photography

Few topics in photography are as important – and as personal – as the composition that you choose. Composition has the power to convey exactly what you want to say with a photograph, guiding a viewer’s eye seamlessly across the frame. It has been called, with good reason, the strongest way of seeing. This article revisits some previous Photography Life articles on composition, covering the most important elements and discussing how they relate to one another.

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Dissecting My Favorite Photos from 2015 – Part III

In the previous two parts (I & II), I describe the careful planning involved in creating those images. Sometimes, however, with some luck, elements and light come together in several ways, (often unexpectedly), and create lasting, memorable moments. During those moments, it helps to stick to the basics, follow the light, and let your heart do the work. This third installment describes the amazing two hours I had at Sandy Stream Pond in Baxter State Park. I created 3 of…

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