There are many ways to create stronger compositions in landscape photography, but one of the easiest and most effective techniques is the use of leading lines. Dynamic lighting and great subject matter are the cornerstones of any great composition, but even when these elements are less than exceptional there is still a way to create an emotional connection with your audience. Draw them into the scene with leading lines.
The wide-angle lens (anything from 14mm to 24mm) has numerous benefits for the landscape photographer from incredible depth of field and relatively small size to a viewing angle that really captures the big picture. But all that visual information can be a bit overwhelming without some direction.
Using the rule of thirds and carefully composing to include natural lines such as a shoreline, forest edge, stream, or mountain ridge can lead your viewers into the frame or guide them to a specific part of the image. Diagonal lines in particular create visual tension, which is a sure-fire way to add drama to your images and create an emotional response from your viewers.
Next time you’re out photographing the landscape, take a moment before you trip the shutter to make sure the elements within the frame are being used to their best advantage. Think of yourself as a director rather than just a photographer and you’ll start creating stronger, more exciting images.
Dusy Basin in Kings Canyon National Park includes the largest concentration of 14,000 foot peaks in the Sierra Nevada range, and one of the southernmost glaciers in North America. As a major entry point for the John Muir Trail along the Sierra high route, this popular spot also makes a relatively easy weekend trip from the town of Bishop, passing through the John Muir Wilderness and over Bishop Pass.
Here the warm alpenglow on the The Palisade Group is reflected in one of the many alpine tarns scattered among this beautiful hanging valley. These pristine lakes are fed only by surrounding snowmelt, and their glassy waters are the perfect complement for photographing magic hour in what John Muir so eloquently called the Range of Light.
Today is Ansel Adams’ birthday. The master of landscape photography, who was born in 1902 and would have been 116 today, had a profound affect on my creative direction and continues to be an inspiration to generations of outdoor photographers.
Adams pioneered the idea of previsualization, the concept of seeing the final image in the mind’s eye before the photo is created. He also co-founded Group f/64 with other photographic masters Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham, and he developed the Zone System, a technique for translating perceived light into specific densities to allow better control over finished photographs.
As a strong advocate for the environment, his iconic black and white images of the American West influenced powerful decision makers in Washington and helped preserve places like Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks and California’s iconic Big Sur coast. Ansel was also largely responsible for photography being accepted into the world of fine art, culminating in major exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1980. And shortly after his death in 1984, the Minarets Wilderness in his beloved Sierra Nevada Mountains was re-named the Ansel Adams Wilderness in his honor.
Thank you Ansel – your legacy lives on!
“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” ~Ansel Adams
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.