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.
The way I see it, sand dunes are among the most wonderful places in the world. They’re the very definition of a windswept landscape — the product of our planet’s most fundamental forces. They also exist everywhere, from coastal regions to deserts that span entire continents. Below, I’ll offer some of my top tips for photographing sand dunes and getting incredible images.
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.
There are some popular conditions for landscape photography that every photographer already knows: sunrise and sunset, storm clouds, fog, and so on. But one that doesn’t get mentioned very often is the light produced by a full moon on a clear night. The subtleties of moonlight aren’t always visible to the naked eye, but long exposure photography can lift the curtain. The results may have hints of familiarity, but they also have unique characteristics that make them stand out from typical, daytime photos. Photographing landscapes under the full moon (also referred to as “moonscapes”) is a process with its own set of challenges, so I will explore it in more detail in this article, and hopefully provide some tips for those who are interested in trying it out.
In the second 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 captures the quintessence of a well-known and spectacular light display, often referred to as the ‘Second Sunset’. As with many of my previous articles, my goal with this post is to encourage my fellow photographers to be inspired by light, composition, and mood, to spur them to explore their creative potential, and to get out and make beautiful photographs.
The concept of personal style is a fundamental topic in all art, not just photography. Everyone has their own way of seeing the world, and everything that people create is based upon this underlying uniqueness. In terms of photography, though, even mentioning personal style can seem strange — since our work is inherently based upon the real world, is it even possible to have a unique style? This question is especially relevant for fields like landscape and wildlife photography, which often rely 100% on the scene that nature presents to you, rather than any elements you add yourself. How can you insert your own personality into an image that mirrors the way the world actually looked at one point in time? It’s a complex question. Things get even trickier if you look into all the features that must be copied perfectly in order to produce a convincing forgery (or a benign imitation) of another photographer’s personal style — and, even further, the implications of analyzing and imitating your own personal style. In this article, we will explore the topic of personal style and how you can find it in your photography.
Many photographers do not like waking up very early to take pictures at sunrise, preferring to sleep in and spend the energy to shoot during the day and at sunset instead. While photographing at sunset can yield stunning photographs, there are specific advantages to photographing at sunrise that are worth discussing. Let’s take a look at the topic of sunrise vs sunset in photography in more detail and see why you might be better off shooting early in the morning.
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 the photograph will convey. In particular, unidirectional light qualities (e.g., side lighting and backlighting) serve this purpose well in landscape photography.
There’s a reason why landscape photographers like waking up at 4AM and hiking out to the middle of nowhere. (Or, at the very least, there’s a reason why we tolerate it.) Are you a morning person? I’m not. But — countless times — I’ve stood by my tripod as the sun rises, watching the morning light illuminate a beautiful landscape. And that’s the reason. It’s all about the light. If you can get this one right, your photos will be spectacular. So, what are some of the things you can do to find good 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.