Successful landscape photography is often comprised of several elements coming together in harmonious balance within the frame. This can be quite complex or deceptively simple. Spacial relationships and color are the building blocks used to balance most compositions, and careful lens selection is essential in distilling an image down to its essence.
But sometimes less is more and an effective use of negative space can be a great tool to elicit an equally powerful response. This basic, but often overlooked principle of design, gives the eye a place to rest and increases the appeal of a composition through subtle means. The Japanese word ma is a perfect example. Roughly translated to “the space between two structural parts”, it is best described as a consciousness of place – the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form deriving from an intensification of vision.
The image above was made as a late winter storm was moving out of the Teton Range. By using a medium telephoto and focusing on the predominant white space I was able to isolate the spires and ridges to give the illusion that the mountains were floating in the clouds.
With the right conditions, adding negative space to your visual toolkit can be a simple yet powerful way to create images that resonate with your viewers.
The Big Island of Hawaii is well-known for its active volcano, black sand beaches, and magical Kona sunsets, and that’s more than enough reason to visit this island paradise. But what many may not realize is that the eastern side of the island is a lush tropical landscape of cascading waterfalls and jungle-lined valleys in a primordial setting.
Traveling north from Hilo on the old Mamalahoa Highway is a journey back in time. Passing countless sugar cane fields, the primary industry here during the last century, the landscape soon enters the dense jungle as the road winds along the rugged Hamakua Coast. With constant views of the Pacific on the right, the highway passes countless verdant chasms lined with an amazing variety of plants and trees that fill every available space with green. Needless to say, you soon find yourself looking for every available pull-out.
Akaka Falls State Park is one of the highlights of the coast. A short nature trail leads through giant bamboo forests and tropical cascades before arriving at its namesake waterfall. Further north, just before the highway turns west towards the town of Waimea, a spur road leads through the sleepy hamlet of Honoka’a to the spectacular Waipio Valley. The overlook at the end of the main road provides stunning views of this valley of the kings and the dramatic cliffs of the north coast, but traveling into the valley down the 25% grade (reported to be the steepest in the US) requires several hours and a guide or 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Boasting 4 out of the 5 major climate zones in the world, and 8 out of 13 of the sub-zones, the Big Isle really does have it all! Unlike the other Islands, which require less travel time, it takes a bit of planning to fully experience the largest of the Hawaiian Islands – but this is one part you don’t want to miss.
There’s something fascinating about visual movement that stirs our souls and creates a visceral response. I’m not referring to the exhilaration of skydiving or skiing down a mountain, but the more subtle visual connections we make while witnessing a dance performed on a stage, watching clouds race across a desert sky, or simply viewing a photograph of a silky waterfall frozen in time.
As photographers we have the privilege of stopping time or even slowing it down just long enough to give our viewers a glimpse of a world that can never be seen with our own eyes. We can illustrate a repetitive process over time such as a series of waves washing upon a shore, or create an abstract vision of color and form that has no resemblance to the natural world.
At these moments, there is a bond that occurs between subject and viewer that’s hard to put into words. Perhaps it’s our secret desire to slow the inevitable march of time or just a sense of voyeurism at seeing something beautiful that we know we shouldn’t be able to. I like to think of it as the emotion of motion.
In keeping the tradition that Jim Goldstein started over 10 years ago, I’ve selected my favorite images released in the past year. These are not necessarily my best or most popular, but each holds a special place as a moment in time not soon to be repeated or forgotten.
Enjoy! And feel free to let me know your favorites. You can click on any image for a large view, to learn more about it, or share individually. I look forward to seeing your selects in the weeks ahead, and wish everyone a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year full of beauty, adventure and photographic possibilities.