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
This is my second black and white photo portfolio that I will be sharing here on our blog (the other three posts in this series can be found here: grand landscapes, plants, and tips for creating better black and white photographs). This post features some of nature's smaller scenes - narrower slices of grand landscapes, intimate landscapes, and abstract renditions of natural subjects. You can view all of these photos plus others, at a much larger size, in my Black + White: Small Scenes & Abstracts gallery.Read More
This is my third post in an occasional series of recommend reading for landscape and nature photographers. In this list, I share a diverse mix of 13 resources ranging from highly practical to inspirational to thought-provoking. If you have any resources you would like to share (your own or links to others), please include them in the comments. And, as always, please feel free to share this list if you enjoy 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
A few days ago, a photographer on Facebook sadly lamented that they made a trip all the way down to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado only to be sorely disappointed because of the state of the aspen trees. This year was a mixed bag, with some patches changing quite early, some getting blackened by frost, and others slowly fading to a dull green. I would agree with this photographer’s sentiment (and should note that I have sounded a lot like this in the past) – 2014 was not a great year for fall colors in the San Juans if you arrived with specific expectations for hillsides of golden aspens, mountaintops full of fresh snow, and interesting weather for photography. Still, fellow Dreamscaper Ron Coscorrosa and I both came away with quite a few photos we like from the same place at the same time. The difference between us and the photographer I mentioned above? We arrived with few expectations for what we hoped to photograph and instead welcomed the opportunities that came along.Read More
One of the most prevalent pieces of advice offered to landscape photographers is also one of the most limiting: “Shoot during the golden hour.” And, if you observe a mass of photographers at some popular locations, the advice actually seems to be put in practice as “Shoot during the golden fifteen minutes and only if there are colorful clouds filling the sky.” For photographers living by this golden hour mantra, you may be missing a lot of what nature has to offer.
While I thoroughly enjoy photographing grand landscapes under beautiful light, I have come to enjoy photographing small scenes – abstracts, intimate landscapes, and macro photographs – even more. Years ago, one of the main reasons that I took up landscape photography was because it offered one of the only times I could quiet my mind. At the time, I was in graduate school and working a stressful, full-time job. I was almost always working through a long to-do list or thinking about working through a long to-do list. During the brief periods of time I could get out for photography, the act of focusing enough to create a photograph was an escape from that stressful and busy life I had created for myself. Photographing smaller scenes in nature – like finding a beautiful patch of corn lilies or exploring a set of sand dunes to photograph the light and shadows at the end of the day – was so rejuvenating.Read More