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.
Have you ever heard someone say that a telephoto lens “compresses” the background or “flattens” an image? What exactly does this mean? The perceived distance between your subject and the rest of the scene is dependent on two things: where you stand relative to your subject to take the photo and the focal length of the lens you choose. In this short article, I want to discuss this type of perspective distortion, and how to use it to compose exciting photographs.
Have you ever wondered why you are instantly drawn to some photographs, but not to others? Or why some of your images lack that wow factor that you see in other’s. It may be related to how you compose your pictures. How a photograph is composed has a huge impact on how long we look at it. The longer our brain is allowed to wander through an image, the more likely we are to like it. Photographs that are not composed well do not have staying power, and are quickly discarded by our brain. In this article I want to discuss four very basic compositional tips. I won’t be talking about the “rule of thirds” or “leading lines”, but rather four pointers you should consider before you take a picture. These tips will save you a lot of post processing time, and will allow you to create much stronger images.
As a photographer, it is easy to feel excited about the newest images that you take. After returning from an amazing shoot, there is nothing more fun than loading your photos and sorting through them for the first time. This initial thrill, though, doesn’t always last. If you took hundreds – or even thousands – of photos at a time, sorting through your work can become a tedious task. Sometimes, too, you just aren’t in the right frame of mind to be looking through photos; perhaps you are distracted or simply tired. Whatever the reason, it is deceptively easy to overlook a high-quality photograph if you aren’t paying enough attention – I speak from experience! The only way to fix the problem is to look through the old photos that you have taken. In this article, I will discuss some of the important reasons to revisit your archives from time to time. Along the way, you may find beautiful shots that you never noticed before.
Recently, as part of a photography class at my university, I had an assignment to shoot two rolls of film with the theme “Point of View.” This topic was open to interpretation, but I was encouraged to try something out of my comfort zone. I puzzled over the assignment for a few days – and I almost decided to shoot a roll of typical abstract photographs – but one other possibility began to interest me: With enough effort, could I take realistic landscape photographs from my kitchen table?
When the world saw the very first photographs, the idea of being able to capture the world as we see it took off rapidly. In a relatively short period of time, film photography evolved from black and white to color photography. From there, it made motion pictures possible, allowing us to see the world from our couches at home. When the first digital camera was invented, little did the inventors know that it would later revolutionize the world of photography and media in general. Today, billions of images are captured and shared between people and the number of image recording devices is growing at a rapid, unstoppable rate. There are cameras literally everywhere – in our mobile phones, homes, computers, cars and even in wearables like eyeglasses and watches. We trust these devices to give us a glimpse of reality, documented moments of time that we can go back to and review. And yet with the fast growth, ease of access and use of image and video manipulation tools, we have been seeing more footage that can twist reality: whether we are looking at popular magazine covers, Internet sites or news media, the imagery we see is getting harder and harder to trust, since it is being altered, faked or staged. Media turned out to be a powerful tool to influence and manipulate people, which brings up the question and the importance of ethics in photography. Should photography only be allowed to display reality, or is it acceptable to alter images for presentation purposes? And if manipulation is acceptable, what are its limits, if any? These are very hard questions to answer, but with some common sense, we can create a set of ethical rules and guidelines that should help photographers in determining what’s acceptable and what’s not.