The natural world can be a chaotic place. If you’re a landscape photographer, you’ve probably found yourself taking pictures of scenes that seem too disorganized and overwhelming to work right no matter what you do: forests, canyons, coastlines, and so on. You’re chasing the elusive gem of simplicity within a landscape that is anything but simple. How do you make sense of things and capture good photos anyway?
As a follow-up to my previous essays on visualization, in this article I will share select photographs made on film with a detailed description of the thought process, the choice of tools, and technical considerations that were involved. I have chosen two starkly different photographs (both landscapes) to discuss. I hope that these photos with the accompanying narrative will prove interesting and helpful to beginning film photographers and perhaps guide more experienced photographers in advanced techniques and approaches. Of note,…
The following article contains a list of important composition tips to help you take the strongest possible photos. It goes without saying that composition is a very personal creative decision, so there are no truly universal do’s and don’ts. Nevertheless, there are certain techniques you can use to improve your photos, from forming a vision to refining your initial composition in the field. The goal is to make your image’s final message as clear and effective as possible.
Lines are some of the most fundamental elements of photography, and some of the simplest, too. But don’t let that fool you. Lines come in many varieties – sometimes leading lines that guide the composition, other times barriers segmenting a photo. They also impact an image’s sense of emotion and structure. In this article, I will cover the best ways to use leading lines and other lines in photography, including how to put them into practice in your own compositions.
What is contrast? How can you get high-contrast images? It’s a sought-after concept in photography, but also one of the most confusing, as there are a wide number of ways to bring it about. To start, let us get to answer the first question. Instead of putting up grey-scale maps, let me explain it with pictures. I will start with monochrome images, as they are easier to explain than their coloured counterparts.
At a technical level, color can be complicated; just see our recent article on sRGB vs Adobe RGB vs ProPhoto RGB. But at an artistic level, it is one of the most important parts of an image, impacting emotions and interest unlike almost any other element of photography. This article introduces the concepts of color and color relationships, including how to use them to take the best possible photographs.
Sometimes, it helps to take a step back from broader discussions on creativity to look at the truly fundamental elements of composition. Although there are countless elements of composition in art as a whole, this article covers the ten most important that are specific to photography – critical parts of nearly every photo you take. They’re divided into two main categories: objects, and their relationships. These are nothing less than the building blocks of creativity.
Every successful photo has three things in common, and they’re not particularly surprising. The proper aperture, exposure, and focusing distance? The right camera, lens, and tripod? Successful use of hyperfocal distance, ISO invariance, and ETTR? No! The three variables that matter the most in photography are simple: light, subject, and composition.
“It’s not photography; you’re just playing with toys. And Photoshop.” Well, it sure does look that way. This will either invite complete ridicule or slightly less than complete ridicule but it has been such a ton of fun to do that I could in fact not care less. And now I’m getting asked (and paid) to produce bespoke posters and prints so maybe I’m having the last laugh; who knows. Plenty will argue that unless you’re photographing a long exposure…
I suspect that many photographers have realized their best photos frequently come after several “getting there” images – scenes where something interesting stands out, and you gradually improve upon your early attempts, creating a composition that looks more and more refined by the end. The trend has been so clear in my personal photography that I thought it would be useful to show some examples, including how to apply this concept to your own work.