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 does indeed have objective criteria despite falling in the subjective and vast realm of art.

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Creative Landscape Photography eBook Announcement

To culminate more than a year of work, Spencer and I are very excited to announce the release of our first eBook, Creative Landscape Photography: Light, Vision, and Composition. This 149-page Level 3 book dives into the creative side of landscape photography, including everything from finding subjects to composing difficult scenes. There are some exciting details below, so we encourage you to keep reading:

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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, and commercial photography. In this article, I will cover broadly what quality of light means for me in landscape photography as well as discuss a variety of scenarios where the scenic photographer can use different properties of light to create a given effect. Please note that this discussion is based on my own personal observations and experiences, which may differ from those of other photographers. My goal is to help beginning landscape photographers understand the different qualities of sunlight and how this instrumental tool can be harnessed to fulfill the visualization process.

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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 always right or always wrong, of course, but this is a question worth discussing. When does image quality truly matter, and when is “good enough” more than enough?

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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 one incredible morning for photography so far. In just a few minutes, the sky turned from a dull sheet of gray into a magnificent show of color, and a rainbow appeared during the best light. In this article, I’ll cover the entire story and thought process behind my favorite photo from this beautiful sunrise.

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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 my favorite images from last year in that short duration- it was like being a kid in a candy store. Please read on for the description.

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A Study in Vision, Light and Shadows

Three years ago, when I made my first photo tour through the magnificent landscapes of Iceland, I fondly recall an interesting dinner discussion with my fellow photographers. We had just returned to our guest house from a memorable photo shoot. As we shared good wine, food, and laughs, the discussion pleasantly turned to photography. After the seemingly prosaic and obligatory discussion of camera gear, we got around to more interesting topics such as light, travel destinations, and our individual exploits. One pleasant, wise, and well-traveled gentleman from Holland made an interesting comment that has resonated with me ever since. With a blend of delight and amusement, he said, and I paraphrase him:

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Dissecting My Favorite Photos from 2015 – Part II

This is the second part of a series in which I share my favorite photos from 2015 with the Photography Life community. These articles include the preparation that went behind creating each image, the thought process that led to the final composition, post processing technique, etc. Continued from Part I.

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