Master the skills you need with photography techniques from the experts. Whether you're a novice seeking advice on landscape, wildlife or nature photography or a pro looking for more advanced techniques, you'll find all the information you need, here.
The background can be just as important as the foreground.
For the past 20 years or more, there has been a trend among wildlife photographers, myself included, to minimize the contribution of the background in their photographs by rendering it as low key as possible. By doing so, the subject can be freed from visual competition and stand out clearly.
Start with the basics and your images will keep getting better
The most challenging aspect of teaching landscape photography is that of helping students find a creative voice. One way to think about improving your creativity is to ask yourself, "What do I want to say with my photographs?" It’s important to have something to say, to have a theme or concept within which you can organize the imagery about which you’re most passionate. Think of your favorite photographers, and I’ll guess that you can immediately recall what they’re trying to say with their work. As regular readers of this column know, I’m passionate about the subject of pushing ourselves creatively.
How to get motion blurs that will add a new dimension to your photography
Long exposures can blur moving subjects and portions of scenes into fascinating forms, revealing flows of motion and form that can’t be seen in an image made with a short exposure. All you need is a slow shutter speed, a sturdy camera support and your imagination.
Choosing the ideal texture to showcase the details and colors in an image
Experimenting with photo papers is one of my favorite things about printing. Besides the usual suspects—premium gloss and semi-gloss—I try different textures to see how they affect a photograph. Deciding which type of paper will best reproduce an image or series of images is subjective, though. It depends on the subject matter, whether I’m going color or monochrome, and the desired visual impact.
Once, on a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, I was sharing the Sunrise Point Overlook with half a dozen other shooters, all of us lined up with our expensive SLR cameras and carbon-fiber tripods, shooting away as the sun set (yes, it’s called Sunrise Point, but it’s equally spectacular at sunset). As Old Sol hovered over the western horizon behind us, most of the hoodoos in the valley before us fell into shadow while the distant buttes were catching the last rays.
Be versatile, and you can build perspective into your landscape images
One key compositional technique in landscape photography is the use of scale. By including foreground subjects such as rocks or trees or flowers in front of mountains, for example, the photographer can convey depth in the scene, giving a stronger sense of the locale and of "being there." In many uses for photographs, such as editorial use, it’s important to clearly describe the subject. Objects of known size give us clues as to the scale and depth.
Film and digital can't be simply compared by using math. There's much more to the images than numbers.
About 15 years ago, digital imaging started to capture the attention of the press, including photography magazines. At that time, a lot of this was gee-whiz stuff, and most photographers saw it mainly as a curiosity or something that might work for scientists or other specialized use. Many pundits at the time made rash pronouncements of the technology, using all sorts of techniques to compare film and digital, but mainly they all came to the conclusion that it would be a very long time, if ever, before digital image capture could match film. And they all said that film would be around for a very long time. Obviously, that has turned out to be wrong.
What does it take to visualize luminosity in black-and-white and color photography, then see and control it in Photoshop?
Luminosity is represented in a photograph by tones of black, white and gray. Luminosity is light. It represents all that we can see about the world we photograph. Every object, event and mood depends upon visible light represented by luminosity in the photograph.
Taking super-long exposures with ND filters can add an artistic component to your photography
Fish don’t see water, birds don’t see air, humans don’t see time...but photography does. When a film or digital sensor is exposed to light, a subject is recorded in relation to time. For example, a bird in flight photographed at 1/4000 of a second looks entirely different than if photographed in the same situation at 1/8 of a second. The difference is time. A film or digital sensor can record the passage of time, be it seconds, minutes or hours.
Shoot in B&W or convert in Photoshop? That is the question...
If you’d like to simulate the results produced by specific films or film/developer combinations, reach for Exposure from Alien Skin. Based on detailed analysis of actual film stock, Exposure not only re-creates the film coloration and contrast, but also actually reproduces the size, shape and color of the film grain. If you like the look of push-processed Kodak TRI-X, for example, you can re-create it digitally—with authentic results. Exposure performs other editing functions as well. The options include a monochromatic toning filter set (blue, gold, sepia, selenium and sulphide) that allows you to re-create the look of old-fashioned image recording techniques.
The digital print gives photographers more freedom and control in getting great images.
For landscape photographers, the print has gone beyond a simple record that goes on the wall. With printing so accessible to all, photographers have the opportunity to create dramatic, large-format prints that demand attention.
If you're not doing close-up work, why not? Here are your opportunities to explore new worlds without leaving home.
Close-up and macro photography truly bring you in contact with new worlds. We don’t easily or normally see the details of life around us, and this is especially true of non-nature photographers. I remember the first time I got a close-up photo. It was of a syrphid fly on a daisy. I was a kid and had made a close-up lens from a magnifier and attached it to my dad’s Argus C3. That camera was no SLR, so I had to make a focus-and-frame stick to aid in those areas. The fly was in focus (though not really sharp), and it was exciting to see it in my print.
There's a random element in any landscape. Learning to bring some order to that chaos will enable you to make your best photos.
As human beings, we’re all surrounded by the same visual information. So what is it that makes a great photograph stand out from the crowd? Visionary photographers have the unique ability to decode the visual information that surrounds us. They identify graphics, colors, patterns and textures that they translate into the two-dimensional world of photography. Somehow, they can build compositions that communicate with us in a nonverbal manner. So how can you decode that random landscape to make better photographs of your own?
Expert techniques make for exciting, dynamic photographs
Wildlife photography is a doorway into a world of exotic animals and outdoor adventure, but it takes some effort to get there. When you learn the technical skills of photography—not only the capabilities of your equipment but also the photographic elements of composition and lighting—you’ll be on the way to capturing the best wildlife shots that you can. And while you may not be embarking on a life of jet-setting photography just yet, here are some guidelines and pointers that will help you on your way.
7 Deadly Compositional Sins Forget about adhering to the rules of composition and instead focus on staying clear of the pitfalls of a particular scene or situation More »
Sharp & Rich As a digital photographer, you can learn a lot from Ansel Adams. Choose the right gear and emulate the attention to detail that Adams devoted to his craft to get your best possible landscape photos. More »