Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Most Recent Book, on Landscape Photography

My recently published book, Creative Composition for Landscape Photography, is available in both paperback and Kindle editions on

The cover of the paperback edition

  • This book, which includes 170 photographs, introduce a wide variety of techniques that can easily be applied to your own photography, including:
  • ·         The rule of thirds
  • ·         Centered subjects
  • ·         Positioning the horizon
  • ·         Showing depth in two dimensions
  • ·         Incorporating horizontal, curved and zigzag lines and circles
  • ·         Using triangles in compositions
  • ·         Showing perspective with receding lines
  • ·         Using framing and overlapping to show depth
  • ·         Using atmospheric layers to show distance
  • ·         Showing distance by using relative scale
  • ·         Focal length and focus point as compositional techniques
  • ·         Using lighting and texture in compositions
  • ·         Color priority and color contrast
  • ·         Single dominant elements in compositions
  • ·         Incorporating balance and weight
  • ·         Symmetry and asymmetry in compositions
  • ·         The rule of odds
  • ·         Using repeating elements
  • ·         Simplicity as a compositional technique
  • ·         Using themes as organizing principles
  • ·         Having creative fun in composition
  • ·         Combining multiple compositional elements

Written especially for beginning and intermediate landscape photographers, it includes 170 color and B&W photos along with instructional captions to illustrate the concepts presented.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Using the Lensbaby Edge 80

Part of the Lensbaby Composer Pro II kit is an 80 mm lens called the Edge 80.  It's called that because instead of having a round "sweet spot" in the center, this optic makes a creative "slice" that can be moved around the image.  When the Edge 80 is pointed straight forward, it acts as a very good 80 mm lens.  But when it's tilted to one side, the image shows a sharply focused slice surrounded by an area of blur.  How much blur there is depends on the degree to which the lens is tilted and the choice of aperture.  Where the slice is located is determined by the direction in which the lens is tilted.

The image below was made with the Edge 80.  The exposure was about 1/1000 second, ISO 100, f2.8, or wide open with this lens optic so I had maximum blur.  I positioned the slice so it ran along the lower fence and roadway, which emphasized the curvature of the fence and the S-curve of the road, while throwing the less important treeline in the background out-of-focus.  The darkening sky was also rendered fuzzy, which I think adds to the brooding quality of this image.  If I'd had this image at the time my book was being written, I'd have included it as one of the composition examples.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Starting Out with Lensbaby

I recently purchased a Lensbaby Composer Pro II kit, which includes three lenses, or what they call optics.  The kit includes a "lens" that tilts and several "optics": the Sweet 35, a 35 mm lens that fits into the Composer Pro body, a Sweet 50, which is a 50 mm lens, the Edge 80, an 80 mm lens, and two macro lenses that can be fitted to the other lenses for close-up work.

I've finished reading two Kindle books on the Lensbaby and have started experimenting with the kit.  It's a way different way of working.  The Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 optics create a circular "sweet spot" that's in focus and that can be rotated via the Composer Lens body so the focus spot can be moved around the frame, with the out-of-focus zone in a place of your choosing.

The following photo was made using the Sweet 35 lens focused sharply on the stone fence and then tilted to the right so the "sweet spot" would be on that side of the frame, highlighting the fence and softening the tree at the left so it is barely recognizable.  I converted the photo to B&W in post-processing.

I'm having fun with these lenses, though I have a lot to learn about them yet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Photogenic Subjects

John and Barbara Gerlach, in the second edition of Digital Nature Photography, describe three essential factors for making successful nature photographs.  
The first is that you can’t make a good photograph of a scene that is lacking in interest.  For landscape photography, this might normally require a site with natural beauty.
For many landscape photographers, the goal is to create images that portray great natural beauty and have a strong emotional impact.  Sunrises are popular favorites and often successful subjects for this purpose.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.  Nikon D810, Nikon 70-200 mm f2.8 VR lens, at 200 mm, 1/125 sec., f11, ISO 100, tripod.

But when we speak about a photogenic subject, what do we mean?  The term has many synonyms.  Some of these do, in fact, refer to scenes of native beauty, which is what the Gerlachs intend by including this criterion.  These synonyms include the terms picturesque, pretty, beautiful, and attractive.  But others, like graphic, striking, and camera-friendly allow for less than beautiful subjects.
Structures such as this operating water mill can make up in charm what they may lack in natural beauty.  Cable Mill, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.  Nikon D810, Nikon 24-70 mm f2.8 lens at 38 mm, 1/100 sec., f2.8, ISO 800. 
Thus, not all photogenic subjects need to be beautiful.  Some interesting subjects may be notable for reasons other than beauty and others may even be downright ugly.  What gives them the potential to make photogenic photos is the fact that they are appealing for one reason or another.  In my judgment, the natural world offers far more variety and interest than can be found in the spectacularly beautiful alone.  Besides, not all of us have access to dramatic scenery on a regular basis.  That’s one reason my personal definition of “photogenic” has been expanded to include the subjects you’ll see in my book, Creative Composition for Landscape Photography, now available for Kindle on