Featured Member: John Miskelly
© John Miskelly

Featured Member: John Miskelly

What kind of photography do you do? Landscape photography mainly, but I have also been a keen street photographer for many years. Story behind this image: Elgol in Skye, where it…

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Featured Member: Lubos Bruha

What kind of photography do you do? I am amateur photographer based in the Prague, Czech republic. I am focused on landscape and nature. I especially like mountains and their…

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The Tuesday Composition: Compositional Shapes

Layers, Yosemite NP, California
Layers, Yosemite NP, California

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

In previous posts in this series, I’ve talked a lot about how the elements within an image play into how we view it. How lines guide our eye through images, how highlights in the image attract our eyes, how the direction things are moving, or looking into, play into composition. But for much of this conversation we’ve ignored one of the elephants in the compositional room–the shape of the image as a whole. Is it square or rectangular, landscape or portrait, thick or thin? For the rest of this article I’ll call this the “format” of the picture. (I apologize in advance for any confusion with other senses of the word format, e.g., medium-format.)

Often, the choice of what format to compose our image within isn’t made consciously. Instead, often we (and I include myself in this) are guided by what camera we use, and pragmatic considerations about presentation and framing. Most of my images have a 3:2 aspect ratio. It will come as no surprise that this is the same format as the sensor in my digital cameras, as well as the format of the openings in the standard window mats I buy in quantity. This isn’t entirely bad, it does help create a certain consistency of “look” to shows of my work. Still, it’s not a choice that should usually be made unconsciously.  Some images, some ideas just work better in different formats than others, and with the plethora of pixels that come out of modern digital SLRs, often little is lost when we crop an image to improve it. (more…)

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Shoot the Moon!

Snowy Pinnacles at Dusk
Snowy Pinnacles at Dusk

One of the wonders of the night and twilight skies is the moon, and yet the moon can be a challenging subject to integrate into a landscape shot. There are several reasons for this, exposure problems, apparent size, depth of field, getting the moon near the horizon and subject movement all take their turns at making landscape photography with the moon a challenge. In this post, I’ll outline the different challenges in incorporating the moon into your landscape photography, and then provide some suggestions for how to work with these different limitations.

The first problem most people run into is the size problem. For a variety of reasons, we usually “see”, subjectively, the moon as larger than it is, in a pure angular sense, it’s actually quite small, perhaps half a degree in diameter. How big of a telephoto do you need to handle this? Well, if you spent over $100,000 on Canon’s biggest baddest EF lens and popped it onto a full-frame camera with a 2x teleextender, the moon would still probably barely but entirely fit in the view. That’s 2400mm of effective focal length, so if you include the moon in a 24mm image, you can guess that the moon is going to be a lot smaller (not quite 100 times smaller, but that’s not a bad guess) than the frame. If you imagine a big moon in a wide, wide landscape, you’re likely to be disappointed, the math just doesn’t work.

(more…)

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Review: The Lightning Trigger

Lightning across the Painted Desert.   © Joe Decker, created during an artist residency at Petrified Forest National Park
Lightning across the Painted Desert. © Joe Decker, created during an artist residency at Petrified Forest National Park

In my last installment, I discussed some of the joys and challenges of photographing lightning. One of the tools I use to capture images of lightning is Stepping Stone Products’ Lightning Trigger which is particularly valuable for daylight lightning captures. (more…)

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