I often provide a polite smile when someone says “Wow that’s a great photo! You must have a really good camera!” I’m sure I have said that to others many moons ago. In landscape photography, the camera is only a portion of what goes into making an image.
The technology that is available in today’s camera bodies and lenses are amazing. Post-processing software is also equally astonishing leaving your creative options almost limitless. So I do tip my hat to the equipment. However, the images that landscape and nature photographers produce do not only come from the camera and the software. The final image comes from learning how to identify a strong composition, an understanding how to convey emotion in images, and then how to use all the technology to show the viewer the scene through your eyes. Without all of that coming together, the image tends to be flat.
Learning composition and how to convey emotion through images is not easy. It is difficult to pick-up from a textbook and that is the reason I gravitate towards workshops with professionals that I admire or follow their blogs and social media postings. The knowledge required to produce a powerful image that draws a viewer in is acquired through lots of time and experience.
There isn’t a book with 101 rules to follow for perfect compositions. Well, maybe there is, but those rules are still only guidelines. The world is too grand and diverse to box yourself into following even 1001 rules. Occasionally, breaking the guidelines is exactly what produces a commanding image. It’s a tangled web of rules, exceptions, and perception, all of which cannot be learned in a day, a week, a month, a year, or perhaps even a lifetime. It’s a continuous cycle of improvement for each artist.
However, when you work to develop that intricate web of knowledge, the resulting image can be true brilliance conveying emotion in a single frame. I strive for continuous improvement and new challenges. With landscape photography, there isn’t a final destination where one has acquired all possible knowledge on the subject. That is what keeps it interesting. So wherever you are on your photography journey, enjoy the ride, learn and master something new, and now and then, get creative and break away from a rule or two.