bart allen boeckler | Location-Light-Composition


February 10, 2017

Many photographers have heard the cliche "Location, Location, Location" makes the best photos. While this is true mostly for landscape photography, it may not be in the general sense of things.  Location can be an integral part of a great image, it can also be said, you must know where to stand in a location.  The cliche actually represents the scenery (location) which you are photographing. That being said, you can photograph at a stunning location at the wrong time and have a poor representation of the location in your image. You can also miss the focal point of a scene making it dull.  Maybe you have framed the location by not including the most important natural part of the scene. Or you haven't alleviated the undesirable in your composition. Perhaps you neglected the framing that may draw the eye to the most important subject in the scene. You did not use the surroundings to hide undesirable objects in the image or maybe the scene is too busy.  Your image may appear as a snapshot simply because you did not capture the mood present in the scene.  All of these faults can make for a boring view of a stunning location in a photo. Many photographers may try to capture too many images while visiting exotic locations, missing quality by going for quantity. This is a big mistake vacationers tend to it creates a journalistic mood to their photos by trying to document everything while lessening the impact of the location. One superlative image can provide a greater memory for viewers than numerous mundane images!  Bottom line you and the viewers would be better served to capture the mood of a location, rather than numerous journalistic snap shots. You know, more is less!  Take time to think about the location, look for the odd moment or even an emotion in a scene. You may ask how can a landscape image provoke an me it can!  But that's a subject for another discussion. 

So lets talk about timing. This is threefold....Photographic timing in a landscape will include the time of the hour in which you photograph a scene, the shutter speed and the aperture you choose. All of these can have a huge impact individually and as a whole depending on the outcome (mood, remember the mood), you desire.  This is why it is important that your camera can control these elements separately. This is not to say you can't capture a great image by using an auto setting ("P" for professional), but creating the best images by including a mood will usually be captured by manipulating the light and the depth of a scene.  All of these elements will impact the outcome respectively. Taking a different direction in a landscape may make more of an impact to creating a mood in the image.  Another way to look at it is to "break" the so called "rules of photography". You know things such as rule of thirds, over/under exposure, histogram, contrasts, focal points,  etc. Think laterally rather than literally!

All of this finally ties into the final composition of an image.  Many photographers believe a wide angle lens is always the best for a landscape image. While this can be true for the most part, I said can, not always!  I often use a telephoto lens to compose a stunning landscape, control compression of a scene and include small details not otherwise seen by a wide view in a landscape image. This is why I often sacrifice some of the image quality (IQ) in a landscape for the advantages of a wide angle to mid length telephoto lens to create an image I may have missed with a fast prime or super wide variable lens.  You will also have the ability to crop the aspect further. Or to create a panoramic scene by including several smaller images into one expansive view beyond what the naked eye may see in post processing.

There are many other factors which go into creating a stunning and memorable mood in a landscape photo, but we will save that for future l writings.  I will list some ideas below for you to try next time you are out shooting a landscape which may make for a more exciting result in your photography.

*** Turn the camera on its side                                                                                                                          

*** Shoot into the light                                                                                                                      

*** Use color to convey a mood                                             

*** Add a sense of scale for drama by including something of a recognizable size                                

*** Find a focal point

*** Shoot a silhouette

*** Shoot the Golden or Blue hours for impact

*** Shoot a theme

*** Try a landscape closeup 

*** Look for abstracts to create moods  

While there are many details within each of these suggestions you will find they are discussed deeper in my field workshops. Thank you for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you.  Please contact me for further info on my workshops.


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