Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Be A Modern Ansel Adams
Top tips to create high-drama landscapes
Ansel Adams was an accomplished musician, as well as maybe the finest landscape photographer of all time. He famously described a negative as the score and the print as the performance. Looking at the body of Adams' work, one could say that his images harken to the big, dramatic Romantic symphonies of Beethoven more than the more mild-mannered Classical chamber suites of Haydn. Drama! In Adams' best-known photographs of the American landscape, one can't escape the sense of high drama he conveyed. He loved the great scenic vistas—the rugged mountains and wild rivers of the West—and he tried to convey the emotion he felt when seeing special places like Yosemite Valley in his photographs. No photograph could match the scene itself, but Adams worked hard as an artist and as a craftsman to distill these places into two-dimensional photographs.
For many nature photographers, Adams is still held up as the great inspiration for their love of photography. Many of us would like to be a modern Ansel Adams. In this article, we explore some compositional devices and technical tips for adding drama to your landscape photographs. These techniques won't magically transform you into the reincarnation of Adams, but we'll give you some things to think about the next time you're out in the field trying to capture the essence of a grand scenic vista and translate it into a photograph.
1 Use Foreground Elements To Create A Sense Of Depth. In this well-known Adams' photograph of Mount Williamson as seen from Manzanar, he set up his camera to give the boulder in the foreground the same relative size as the mountains in the background. The result is an image that conveys a vast expanse of land, and it invites the viewer to move through the scene. If he had used a longer focal-length lens on his 8x10-inch view camera or if he had simply changed the camera position, he could have eliminated the boulders from the frame, but the result would have been a less dramatic image.
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