The age of digital photography has allowed for an explosion of images worldwide and the emerging talent is phenomenal. As a landscape photographer I think about how to make my images stand out from all the other similar photographs flooding the world.
I frequently have this discussion with my workshop co-leader, Bill Langton
. We in turn bring it up to our participants when leading workshops in the field.When taking our own scouting trips we often find many photographers all lined up in the early dawn waiting to take pretty much the same shots. It’s not uncommon to stand amongst 50+ fellow photographers, many of them pro’s, all of whom will have very similar compositions. Surely there are some individual techniques each are employing but overall the similarity will be there. When you consider how many will try and sell those images, the competition is pretty much self generated and intense.
So what can you do? Quite a bit actually….
It starts with giving some thought to what you want ahead of time. Certainly imagination and an having an “eye” helps, but planning and visualization can go a long way.Before going into the field I often will peruse the internet for photos taken in the area I plan on visiting. My goal is to get ideas and vision from those before me, and yet not to copy them. Second, I use many tools such as Google Earth to pick out locations from where to get a perspective of, as an example, a mountain range to shoot. Next I will use other sources to determine sunrise and sunset and how those times will relate to the chosen location. I consider the weather. An overcast condition, Nature’s great ND filter, can yield saturated colors without harsh lighting. Often bad weather, particularly clearing storms or a even break in a storm can add beautiful light and drama to a scene. An added benefit is that most “fair weather” photographers are heading home and you can have the scene pretty much to yourself. On one trip I found myself in late fall in Glacier National Park for three days and never saw another soul….that’s priceless!
This methodology is not without risk. I’m referring here to safety preparedness. If you are going to be in such areas and at “off” times (anytime really), you must take precautions so as not to become a statistic. I carry enough food, camping, communication and first aid equipment to take care of myself for quite some time.So what else can you do….a lot.
- Instead of always standing upright and taking your photos, try getting closer to the ground or conversely get higher if you can in order to get a different perspective. Put something interesting in the foreground. Take your time…
- Go out at an “off” time. The image of the Golden Gate Bridge (the most photographed icon in the world) in this article was taken at 3 am. Just me, all by myself…might be similar images out there but this one is unique!
- After taking a wide angle shot, put a longer “zoom” lens on your camera and “drill down” into the scene. You’ll be amazed at the compositions within the “big picture”. Alternatively put a macro lens on and really get intimate with your subject. I went crazy one day using a macro on some poppies where I was only concerned with shapes and textures. The result was you didn’t readily know it was a photo of a flower! Check out these examples….
- Can you visualize the scene in Black & White? You can develop that talent. It opens yet another whole world of photography.
The tactics and techniques are endless, just use your imagination. That’s what art is about isn’t it?
Of course we haven’t even touched on post editing. That’s where you can really go crazy and get
creative. I will write about that in a future post….Lastly, a big consideration would be to take one of the many photography workshops (mine included) that are available. You can choose a workshop to fit your style and budget from the thousands available worldwide.I hope this brief article has peaked your interest in looking at taking your photos in a different way. The possibilities are endless!
Give me a shout if I can be of any help and answer your questions.Cheers!
…you can find out more about John’s Workshop Series here