Category Archives: Composition

Breaking the Rules -Why you are not the Rebel you think you are

The following is a repost from my Business and Portfolio Website and blog. Posting it here in the hopes of farther reach

Breaking the Rules

Why you are NOT the Rebel you think you are

The Rules

Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a fellow photographer proclaim: “I know the rules so I can break them” then they also add in “I’m a Rebel”. I mean, I see this so often it’s actually become an annoyance and it’s really turned into just group speak. Someone said it and then everyone just repeats it without actually thinking about what it means. Well, I have. So lets take a little trip and see, what what with this.

But first a note. This article assumes you make photographs as art. The “rules” don’t apply to other photographic genres. Photojournalism is about telling a story, Sports, about capturing the moment, Commercial, about selling the product. While they may possibly contain art, it’s not a necessity. Continue reading »

How Viewpoint changes an Image

in Photography and art, often times our Viewpoint can change the look and what our photograph says completely.

Viewpoint is “Where we view our subject from” and in Art it is not synonymous with Perspective, although it is used that way in common use. Perspective is the relationship of one object to another to show depth as I discussed in my last article: Why we use different lenses and why we move 

These two images shot in the Mojave Desert of a dry lake bed illustrate this point and I hope you can get the different “Feel” that these two images portray (Click mages to enlarge)

Continue reading »

Why we use different lenses and why we move

Zoom with my Feet

Zoom with my feet

Why do we have so many lenses or zoom lenses? Why do we move or not move?

I’m often surprised when I hear photographers talk about lenses and well even more surprised when I read photography blog articles about lenses and what they think “does what” when it comes to lenses and why we may choose one focal length over another. After all can’t we just “Zoom with our feet”? So why do we even have more than one lens, cuz really what would be the point? So this is a small excerpt from a larger article I had in mind to write to show; “What Does What” and why we need more than one lens and even why we may not. Continue reading »

Depth of Field – In Depth

Depth of Field – In Depth

Everything you wanted to know about Depth of Field and some things you didn’t but you will be glad you did

So you may think you understand Depth of Field (DOF) but do you? Let’s try to confirm what you do know and maybe show you a couple things you didn’t.

What is Depth of Field?

Let’s start with a definition: Depth of field is the total distance that is in “acceptable focus” from our actual point of focus. Let’s clarify that definition further because we artistic minded hate reading definitions.

When you focus on an object, you have a “point of focus” that is the only part that is 100% sharp and in focus, then you have a “field of acceptable focus” in front of and behind that point. That area is the total Depth of Field Continue reading »

Shooting the Telephoto Landscape

In my complete portfolio I have just over 3,000 images. Of them, 1,800 were shot with a wide-angle lens between 16 – 24mm. Like most Landscape photographers, a wide-angle lens is my weapon of choice. I love the look of it, I love shooting big sky.

But, the other side is, just over 500 images were shot with a 70-200mm Telephoto zoom. There is a place for a telephoto lens in the landscape photographer’s bag.

So why do we choose different lenses and what are some of the reason and difficulties using a telephoto lens for Landscapes.

We choose lenses of different focal lengths for two primary reasons: Magnification – We want to frame our subject in a certain way in the image and we use different focal length to put that subject at the size in the frame we desire. Secondly, Perspective: What else do we want to present in that image around our subject, what is the field of view we want. Continue reading »

LOOK FOR added interest in your Landscape Photograph

or any photograph really.

Here we have a scene that is in itself beautiful. The magnificent sandstone cliffs above the beach and ocean at Torrey Pines State Beach – La Jolla California

Just on it’s own it’s a beautiful scene to photograph and makes for a nice shot

But simply by stepping 30 feet to my right ( and getting my sneakers VERY wet, I was able to add a ton of interest to the scene by adding the reflection off of the wet beach sand and also some of the movement of the water itself

So don’t get caught up in a scene before you and just fire away, move around look for different perspectives, things of interest, foreground subject all the little things that add up to a more complete and pleasing image for the viewer.

Sometimes we get so excited by the beauty we see we forget to look for more…LOOK


Quick Tip of the day – Landscape Photography

If you have a boring sky without clouds for drama or much interest, minimize it in your composition to 1/3 to 1/4 of the total space. This is not the time to go all Big Sky in your image.

Here we have a clearly defined forground subject, adding  BIG Sky would have done nothing for the image. Continue reading »

Not a Cloud in the Sky

How many times have you heard, “Oh what a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky”? Those are the days my camera and I stay home and watch TV. (My camera likes to watch; Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe, he gets to see his cousins) Being a landscape photographer I can’t think of anything more boring than a cloudless sky. Clouds add so much interest to almost any scene it really isn’t worth venturing out when they aren’t there. 

Continue reading »

Composition – What Brings Order to a Photograph


Composition is one of the aspects of a photograph that makes it appear better to the eye. It’s a “Reason” not a “Rule as some may lead you to believe.  

 Nothing in composition was man made. Man only quantified why something was attractive or pleasing to the eye. It wasn’t like the rule of thirds was invented when the first man wrote it down, it was merely that he quantified why something looked better that occurs, quite naturally
So let’s look at a few things to looks for in composition that can help us achieve a better photograph. Nothing is etched in stone as some may lead you to believe and if you break one rule you may actually have just fallen into another one without knowing it and if the end result is something visually pleasing and adds to the image and captures an audience, then do it.

From the Ground Up – Composition

From the ground up.

Living where I do with all the sights to see and photograph, I see a lot of photographers around and I love watching them shoot. But nothing bugs me more than watching a photographer set up their tripod, eye level, and shoot and that’s it. They may  pick it up and move it down the beach. But they set it up again, eye level, click, done, go home.
Years ago when my photos first started getting noticed, I got noticed for my style, for the type of shots I took. My shoe shots. What? you shoot shoes? No, My shoe shots. I would set my camera to a tight aperture, focus at hyperfocal distance. Place the camera on top of my shoe (so it wouldn’t get dirty or wet) and take a shot, usually with a object in the foreground.
I never looked through the viewfinder,so I really didn’t know what I got till I got home. Sometimes I got nothing, sometimes I got pure magic and a lot of times I got some very crooked horizons. My most notable shot and probably still my best selling shot was this one of a Starfish I took on the beach in Oregon. It’s a view from the ground up and it became a part of my style. So much so my first blog was named groundUp photography.
Now not all the shots I do today are done that way but more likely than not you will find me laying down on the job, looking for a new perspective on the shot. You’d be surprised how the look of a photo can change just by getting down low and shooting up. This is really true when we have foreground objects in our scenes. Getting down on the same level as a field of poppies or  even  a stupid tennis ball on beach. If you are trying to find me in a field of photographers, just look for the one covered in dirt and stickers in his shirt.
I was reminded of it again as I shot on the beach in Oceanside California. As all the other photographers set up their tripods, 5 foot high. Mine was set-up legs splayed as low as they would go and my camera was a foot off the ground. I would have laid on the sand but it was cold and getting soaked would not have made for a good time so I settled for 1 foot high and just a wet knee.
(All three images, shot 3 exposures +-2EV, Tonemapped in Photomatix)
So next time you go out, don’t be afraid to get down (just don’t boogie) and find a new perspective for your shots. I think you may be pleasantly surprised
Hope that helps