More than any other fundamental aspect of photography, light is at the heart of every image you take. Without light, photography cannot exist; it is the foundation of every image, giving shape and meaning to each scene in your viewfinder. Personally, as a landscape photographer, my photographic decisions are shaped more than anything else by the lighting conditions that I encounter. From a soft mist to a dramatic sunset, whether at a mountain or a desert valley, my preferred approach to photography is simple: chase the light.
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.
Every January, I spend couple of days reviewing the photos I made the past year. My first step is to narrow those down to about 45 – 50 favorite images and then eventually to top 12 (the latter reduction often aided by a Facebook poll). I find this exercise rewarding and a very effective way of improving my photography skills. I thought of sharing these final 10 – 12 photos from 2015 with the Photography Life community including the preparation that went behind creating each image, the thought process that led to the final composition, post processing technique etc. After a quick email back and forth with Nasim, I decided to take a stab at it and here is my first write up of this 12 part series.
Have you heard of the Orton Effect? This post-processing technique has been around since the 1980s, if not earlier, but the trend has exploded tremendously in the past few years. If you haven’t heard of it, you aren’t alone – it only recently began to gain mainstream popularity. And yet, in some ways, the Orton Effect is swallowing the modern world of landscape photography. This is barely an exaggeration; after seeing the Orton Effect in practice, you should be able to spot it in at least a third of the trending 500px landscape photos, as well as many winning photo contest entries. This article covers all the basics of the Orton Effect, including a tutorial on how to implement it in your own images – and a discussion on why you may not want to do so.
At the heart of photography is the idea that you are conveying a message to your viewers. Perhaps you want to show the beauty of a waterfall or the drama of an incredible sunrise. Or, you may hope to depict the dark intensity of a jagged mountain peak. A photograph with a clear message can be as effective as possible; its composition, colors, subject matter, and lighting all add to the impression that you are trying to convey. And, more than any other element of composition, the concept of simplicity helps you achieve this goal. In this article, I will cover the ways in which simplicity plays a role in successful photography, including how to implement it to improve your own photographs.
This article is adapted from the upcoming eBook that Nasim and I are writing: “Creative Landscape Photography: Light, Vision, and Composition.”
You know the drill. You pick up a magazine or browse a website and flip through the photos. Most you look at for less than a second, but a select few grab your attention and demand a longer look. What’s different about these select photos? What makes some photos great and others mediocre?
Perhaps the most famous sight in Utah’s Zion National Park is the Narrows, a slot canyon carved by the Virgin River. The dramatic patterns in these sandstone cliffs are some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country, making for incredible images. I had the opportunity to photograph this amazing sight last month, which was not a particularly easy endeavor. Some of the most beautiful parts of the Narrows are only accessible after hiking upstream through the river for several miles.
Last week, I had posted a landscape photograph for installment #8 of our How Was This Picture Taken? series. Judging from the comments, many of our readers took this exercise very seriously and posted deliberate and insightful remarks on how this photograph was visualized and constructed. I enjoyed both the aesthetic and technical analyses offered by our readers, some of whom were correct on many aspects of why and how I chose to make this photograph. Well done!
For the past couple years, I have thought of myself primarily as a “telephoto” landscape photographer. A majority of scenes that catch my attention look best with a telephoto lens, and I tend to keep a 105mm or 70-200mm on my camera most of the time. However, a recent trip to Zion and Death Valley National Parks changed my mind.
For Part 8 of our How Was This Picture Taken? series, I have chosen the following photograph to share. On two recent road trips into the desert near my home base in Southern California, I had the pleasure of going on two landscape photo shoots, both of which I plan to write a photo essay for Photography Life readers very soon. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun and educational to post one particular photograph and invite our readers to share their thoughts on how this photo was visualized and constructed. Also, I thought that by sharing technical aspects on the making of this photograph in advance of my upcoming essay, the narrative and images in my essay might be aesthetically richer.