When thinking about nature photography, many people instantly think of postcard-style scenes: grand landscapes under colorful skies. From my perspective, however, nature photography can be a much more expansive pursuit when considering the opportunities available with smaller scenes, including abstract renditions of natural subjects. In this article, I share some tips on learning to create abstract photographs along a continuum, from photos with abstract concepts that amplify an obvious subject to fully abstract photographs in which the scale and subject are difficult to discern.Read More
We just returned from a long trip to Death Valley National Park, one of my favorite places for photography and exploration. This trip reminded me how much I depend on a single app for my nature and landscape photography: Gaia GPS, which I use on my iPhone 7 Plus. Because Death Valley has so few trails and allows cross-country travel, the park is a great place for exploration and we used our Gaia GPS app for almost every photography outing in the park.
As an example, the Gaia GPS app helped make the photo at the top of this post possible. Since Ron and I have a bit of an obsession with mud and sand patterns, we spent some time on this trip exploring to see if we could find some new areas for this kind of photography. This exploration involved looking at satellite images of Death Valley National Park on Google to identify some potential spots and then heading out cross-country to see what we might find.
For this kind of outing, the Gaia app is helpful for recording a track, marking waypoints, and saving photos of promising spots. When heading out cross country for sunset, we could mark the location of our car to help in getting back after dark. For sunrise, having a point marked in advance - with a high-quality photo for reference - is helpful for returning to a very specific spot in a mostly featureless landscape. While I could do these same things with a handheld GPS, the Gaia app is so much easier to us, and saving photos as waypoints with detailed titles and notes has become an essential tool for my photography.Read More
While we haven't shared many articles on our blog over the last few weeks, we have been busy writing for other websites. You can use these links to get to some of our recent articles published in other places. As always, thanks for reading and supporting our photography endeavors.
In this post for Capture Landscapes, Sarah shares information about her approach to black and white photography, along with an overview of her workflow for processing black and white photographs.
Ron shared this post over on our occasional travel blog. We will be moving into a new house in southwestern Colorado this fall. While we wait for it to be finished, we are living full-time in our 25' Airstream trailer. In this post, Ron shares some of the things we would change about our Airstream based on many months living in it.
In this post for Visual Wilderness, Sarah shares some practical tips for preparing for photography-related travel.
In this post for Outdoor Photography Guide, Sarah shares the story behind one of her favorite black and white photographs (below).
In this post for Visual Wilderness, Sarah shares five practices that can help you develop your creativity as a nature and landscape photographer.
In my latest article for Jay & Varina Patel's Visual Wilderness website, I write about five ways that I have cultivated creativity and improved my photography as a result:
- Think of yourself as a creative person.
- Banish expectations.
- Develop your observational skills.
- Set aside time for practice and experimentation.
- Try working within constraints.
You can read the full article and see the example photographs on the Visual Wilderness website. Have you found any of these practices or others to be helpful in your photography? If so, I would be interested to hear about your experience in the comments.
My latest article for Jay & Varina Patel's Visual Wilderness photo education website is about composition tips when using a wide angle lens. Here is a brief excerpt from the article...
"Expansive views of scenic places often come to mind when we think about the photos that characterize landscape photography. Such photos are often taken with a wide-angle lens, a common but sometimes challenging to master tool. Because such lenses can take in so much of a scene, it can be a challenge for photographers to distill such a scene into its most interesting and compelling elements and then pull them together in a cohesive composition. Below, I walk through four practical tips for stronger compositions when using a wide-angle lens (like a 16-35mm lens on a full frame camera or a 10-18mm lens on a crop sensor camera), sharing photos from a recent trip to Death Valley National Park to help illustrate each point."
I recently facilitated a wide-ranging discussion about photography for an online photo mentoring club and fielded a few questions about gear and equipment. I used those questions as an opportunity to update the "Inside Our Camera Bags" section of our website, which we share in response to the questions we get about our photo equipment. Beyond the typical laundry list of camera gear, we annotate the list to help explain why we use some of these items. While a lot of these things will seem obvious to experienced photographers, we hope this compilation will be helpful to newer photographers who are trying to establish their photography kit for the first time. In addition to this post, we will maintain an updated list here (for anyone visiting well after the publish date for this post).Read More
Photographers Jay and Varina Patel have worked hard over the last few years to develop their Visual Wilderness website into an excellent resource for landscape and nature photographers. I started writing as a guest author for Visual Wilderness last year but have not been very good about sharing my articles with our blog audience. So, here is a quick summary of the four articles I have written for Visual Wilderness, with links to the full content over on their site.Read More
Backing up your digital photos is without question the least interesting part of photography. No photographer thinks, “You know, I really don’t like traveling or exploring nature, or exercising my creativity, what I really like is spending time at the computer copying files to multiple places.”
Backing up your photographs is a burden, but the price of not backing up your photos can be, and odds are ultimately will be, catastrophic. I know first-hand of too many horror stories to count, not just entire trips being lost but months and even years of photographs being lost – forever! I have never had to learn the lesson the hard way, and my hope is that you won’t have to either after reading this post.Read More
If you would like to learn more about this topic, you might find our Beyond the Grand Landscape: A Guide to Photographing Nature’s Smaller Scenes to be a worthwhile investment. You can save 20% on your purchase of this ebook through July 15 with the code NPG20.
A fellow photographer recently contacted me for some tips on how to be more successful in identifying and photographing small scenes in the field. This photographer is very talented at taking photographs of grand landscapes but shared that they could use some help with identifying and photographing smaller scenes. This experience is common since taking photographs of smaller scenes does require the development of some different skills and a shift in mindset when compared to pursuing grand landscapes. And, since we receive similar comments and inquiries fairly often, this seems like a good topic for a blog post.
For the purposes of this post, smaller scenes include intimate landscapes, abstract subjects, patterns, textures, and artistic portraits of plants. Such photographs often, but not always, encompass a narrow field of view, usually lacking the sweeping nature of a grand scenic and focusing instead on the arrangement of the smaller details of a landscape. Such photographs also often rely less on the literal qualities of the subject (like tree bark or a plant) and instead focus on more abstract qualities like lines, curves, patterns, and textures. Photos that fall in these categories are generally crafted to convey a particular mood, emotion, or observation with a degree of intimacy, understanding, or closeness.Read More
The quality and characteristics of light are a frequent topic of conversation among landscape photographers -- and for good reason. Light, and how that light affects a subject, is a critical component in creating any photograph. All different kinds of lighting conditions, from subtle and soft to over-the-top dramatic, can lead to compelling and dynamic photographs. We make the case in our e-book, Beyond the Grand Landscape, that clear skies make for a perfect opportunity to photograph smaller scenes but clear skies can also work for grand landscapes. Yet, it seems that almost nothing can get a photographer to pack up his or her gear faster than a clear sky over a grand landscape at sunrise or sunset. But wait! Give clear skies a chance!Read More
Over the past few years, I have been working on tweaking my cold weather gear so I could more comfortably photograph during the winter and in cold temperatures. After a trip to a very frigid Yellowstone National Park this winter, I think I have finally found a winning combination. No more ice-cold hands, nearly frozen toes, and general cold-weather misery for me!
With so many options for winter gear, I thought it might be helpful to put all of my lessons learned and advice in one spot to help others who want to photograph in winter but are not sure where to start in terms of choosing gear. In this post, I will share some thoughts on using camera gear in cold weather, choosing the right clothing, and some basic tips on being prepared for wintery conditions.Read More