Several months ago I did a webinar with the Manfrotto School of Xcellence on getting your work published. If you weren’t able to join me for the live presentation, kick back and check out this archived version. Enjoy!
So pleased to share my favorite video produced from a shoot for the new Manfrotto BeFree tripod. We spent a week traveling to some of the most iconic photography locations in California–it was a dream job, with unbelievable locations and even better teammates. This video was produced by The Bui Bros–mad skills! Check out the full BeFree campaign here, and stay tuned for an in-depth blog post on the entire experience.
Who’s ready for a quick study in light and DOF???
This intimate sunrise image from the Cholla Garden in Joshua Tree NP is the perfect candidate.
Firstly–light. We all know that superb light is the lifeblood of any meaningful landscape image. Know light. Study it. Understand what it can do for your images. This image illustrates the qualities of having the light source behind your subject. “Backlighting” is perfect for accentuating shape and adding drama to your images. It filters through translucent, or light colored objects, and infuses tehm with life. Notice how each little needle on these cholla cacti are lit up, showcasing both the sheer magnitude and quirky nature of this location.
Secondly–this image is a legit study in depth of field. To help people better understand depth of field, I often compare my photographic frame to a loaf of bread. Think of the image in a three-dimensional way–the foreground is your front slice of bread, the background is your back slice of bread. Depth of field pertains to how many “slices” of bread will appear sharp or in focus within our image.
This image illustrates shallow depth of field. You can see that I’ve utilized a technique called selective focus to steer the viewer to a certain part of my frame, focusing on a certain cholla cactus. So, in reference to the loaf of bread example, I have very few slices of bread in focus. Selective focus (utilizing shallow DOF), is a very useful technique when you have busy compositions that would otherwise leave viewers confused and searching frantically for something to settle on visually.
Try this technique the next time you find yourself amidst a challenging, busy composition–and pay attention to that light source, give a go with backlighting!
It’s a quiet Sunday here in the 801, which gives me a moment for pause and reflection upon some of the past 45 days or so of shooting. It’s been a busy and productive couple of months–weeks that I will be able to look back on in 30 years with fondness…
This is a subtle, sleeper image that just happens to be one of my favorites from the past couple of weeks of work. It was the very first evening of a week-long shoot for Manfrotto, and I was simply hoping for a moment of serendipity.
At the time, I didn’t know I had captured it at all, let alone been fortunate to have clicked the shutter at the moment when a couple of seagulls were placed just perfectly in my frame…one near, one far…just out of alignment, but close enough to feel connected. Sure, I could recreate a moment like this in post, but to know that it occurred in reality is so much more gratifying…
This image evokes emotion, and for me, that is what makes it a keeper. It’s a moment that we have all lived, or would all like to experience at some point in our lives. It’s that care-free feeling that accompanies a salty breeze at the ocean’s doorstep. It’s the nostalgia that takes us back to a simpler time, when ferris wheels were far more important than interest rates and elections.
This image is about a state of being, as much as it is about the good state of California. It is about leaving the present for a moment, and traveling backwards or forwards…into lightness and frivolity.
Strive to capture images that evoke emotion. They are the reason so many of us turn to imagery for release.
What is an environmental lifestyle image? Seems pretty self-explanatory, right? It’s an image that gives as much (if not more) attention to the environment, as it does to the activity taking place. It’s the perfect marriage between location
For me, it’s like having my cake and eating it too. I discovered my passion for photography in scenic landscape work. I have also been an avid participant in many recreational pursuits since a young age. It’s a combo that takes me to many beautiful locations, while watching and/or participating in the things I love to do.
This image embodies everything I love about fly fishing on the ocean. Clean, open air. Limitless space. Uninhibited motion. Surreal landscape. Endless skies. Soft, barefoot sand. Whether approaching it with a camera, or a rod in hand, it is an absolute dream.
This image was captured about 15 min before sunset. Having that sun low on the horizon emphasized the repetitive texture in this spit of sand. The location was perfect here. The activity was spot on. But the light it what brought this image to life. Without light, this image is an average shot of a dude casting to bonefish on a pleasant spit of sand in the middle of the Bahamas. And we all know that average is just as close to the bottom as it is to the top.
Don’t be average.
Is that not what this whole photography thing is all about??? The first memory I have of picking up a camera for any purpose beyond simply documenting what was occurring in front of me was to simply share with others. Share the beauty. Share the wonder. Share the ridiculous. Share the inspiring. Share something that made someone say “wow”. Share something that made someone want to go and explore their backyard, go adventuring and lose t
While some things have changed about my approach to photography, one thing remains constant–and that is my desire to share with others that which I see. I am fortunate to see crazy cool stuff in unbelievable locations all over the world. I count myself lucky each and every day.
This image reminded me of that this morning. Shot deep in the Trinity Alps of northern California, this locale felt like something out of a fairy tale. Skinning through old growth forests plastered with moss and lichen–so cool!
A telephoto lens was key in compressing the scene, enhancing the layers of forest, and filling the frame with color and texture. Understand your equipment, and how it can help you maximize each location and each shooting opportunity. Know what you want, and have the technical backing to go out and get it. Finally, share! Share your work. Share your vision. Inspire and be inspired!
For those of you who live in or near Park City, UT, you will quickly recognize this barn. It is certainly one of the more photographed structures in northern UT. And rightly so! The Osguthorpe Barn (or McPolin Barn depending on who you talk to) has greeted visitors and locals alike traveling in to Park City since 1921. Simply put, it is a classic.
I have photographed here many times before, I’ll
I arrived at this location later in the morning, and low fog was just beginning to thin out. I was excited to be at this spot with conditions I’d never seen before! I worked through several compositions, but none of them really worked as a whole.
Finally, I settled on a wider angle image, utilizing cattails as my FG subject. I’ve shot from this exact location before in the winter, but this time the grouping of cattails seemed more elongated towards the barn, and a vertical composition seemed more appropriate.
I actually began composing this image with my 16-35mm lens. I wanted to incorporate a more complete wide angle foreground, but I still wanted to maintain emphasis and hold the viewer’s attention on the barn itself. With the 16-35mm stopped down for maximum DOF, the scene felt busy, and my eye simply wouldn’t settle on the barn as I’d like it to.
Finally, I chose to pull out my 24mm tilt shift lens. By both tilting my plane of focus and shooting at a wide open aperture of f4.5, I was able to have my cake and eat it too.
The cattails are selectively blurred, giving context and providing the FG filler that I was looking for. Yet the sharp contrast in sharp vs. blurred takes the eye directly to the barn. Why didn’t I just shoot my 16-35mm wide open? Being a super wide angle f2.8 lens, it wasn’t giving me quite the separation that I needed from a DOF standpoint. Why didn’t I throw on a longer lens and utilize a shallow aperture to achieve that separation? Throwing on a longer lens would have effectively flattened this scene. I would have gotten that separation, but I would not have achieved the depth I get from a wide angle composition–I would not have that immediate, engaging FG element grab the viewer in the same way it does from a wider angle approach.
Much of photography is about simple problem solving. It all begins, however, with a clear vision of what you hope to capture. Know what you want out of a location. Know what type of image you hope to come away with. This will serve as your mental blueprint as you work through the small problems to achieve your final photographic goal.
This photography thing–it’s about light!
I’ve had many people ask me throughout my career how I achieve “that look” in my imagery. My answer is always the same–it’s about being where you need to be when Mother Nature puts on the light show, and it’s about understanding how to capture it.
Skies were gray and stormy last night in the Salt Lake valley, yet there was a sliver of sky on the horizon that gave me enough hope to get out and shoot some trail running imagery. We …
shot some stuff with killer clouds, and then we watched (and proceeded to run around like chickens with our heads cut off!) as the sun slipped into that sliver of sky and proceeded to bathe everything around us in a hue of gold nearly impossible to describe.
The image comparison here is perfect for illustrating the immense power of golden light. You can’t replicate it. Two shots, nearly identical save for the ridiculous gap light in the image on the right.
This is our winning lottery ticket. This is our jackpot. This is our payday. This is our pie in the sky. Light like this is what we live for. Find it. Shoot it.
You’ll spend the rest of your lifetime chasing it.
Who am I? What do I do? Where have I been? Have a look-see at the video. Thanks for stopping by…
Are your landscape images teasers or pleasers? I ask this question of my workshop students all the time, as it really requires us to think about HOW we construct an image, and ultimately what kind of viewing experience results.
Think of each image as a visual journey. Just simply associating your image with a journey implies that there is a destination at which the viewer will arrive. Does this destination live up to the journey?
Take this image for example. Photographed during a particularly dramatic evening in Lake Powell, I was ecstatic when the storm clouds parted on the horizon and allowed for several minutes of intense gap light.
This visual journey begins in the lower right hand corner of the frame, winding up and through the image, finally arriving at the climactic “destination” of intense light on the sandstone butte above.
Think about the visual journey in each of your landscape images, and you’ll be creating pleasers, and forgetting the teasers.