Landscape photography is such a romantic pursuit! Though it is so close to many of our hearts, the romance of landscape photography gets pushed aside too often by its technical and procedural aspects. Yet, without that technical stuff, it’s really hard to bring out the romance. With that in mind, I created what I think are the top ten ideas for techniques that you can use easily, so you can focus in on the romance. These top tips can work anywhere, but with the current interest in my ancestral home of Bodie, I was asked to act as your photographic guide to this very Western ghost town.
The key to making any top-ten-ideas list work is to latch on to only those that fit your style of photography, and forget the rest. The next thing you want to do is think through these ideas with the camera gear you own. You might find that some suit the job perfectly, while others end up being the odd lens out. And more than likely, you’ll find you’ll need to acquire a new lens. That is all part of the process, and the more you explore it, the better your photography will become, the greater the romance will become, and the more enthralling will be your storytelling. Let’s get to the list.
Creating visual depth isn’t something that comes to mind right away when photographing. We’re usually concentrating on getting a proper exposure and getting our subject in focus. Even when we’re composing, we’re often thinking about ‘rules of thirds’ or some other compositional idea. Yet, visual depth is what is often lacking in a photograph—especially a scenic or landscape image. If you want your pictures to have more impact, start paying attention to how you can suggest depth in your photo. Remember that you are taking a three-dimensional world, and distilling it into two dimensions in the final image, and you don’t want that image to appear flat. There are several things you can do to put the suggestion of depth into your images.
We don't need to travel to scenic places to find good subjects for photographs. I've taken many photographs that I like, within a few miles or even a few blocks of my home.
How do we find such images? It's mostly a matter of learning to look carefully at the details in what we see around us. When we've found a detail that will work as a subject, we then need to be creative in finding the right composition.
I was traveling six hundred feet down and a thousand years back, more or less. The trail from the rim of Canyon de Chelly to the White House Ruin begins with a series of steep switchbacks. On one side, there's a wall of rock. On the other side, if you're clumsy, there's a fall that's long enough to kill you. I watched my step.
A few weeks back, I was exploring a rock formation near the Little Colorado River. I found a number of petroglyphs. It occurred to me that almost all the petroglyphs and ruins I've encountered in the Southwest were near rivers or streams. The ancient desert people had compelling practical reasons for living near water. I suspect, though, that they also enjoyed simply looking at it.
I love to include water in my photographs. Judging by what I see on photography forums, I'm not alone. Water can significantly improve a photographic composition. It's worth considering why.
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