July 13

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The Joys of Working Your Scene When Photographing Landscapes

By Dan

July 13, 2020

One of the most amazing and wonderful things about photography is that you can capture a subject with endless variety, and it’s this creative experimentation allows you to create an image that matches your own ideas about the scene, at least your ideas in that very moment.

In most cases, no two people will capture the same scene in the exact same way, and even if you visit a scene more than once, chances are, you’ll won’t create the exact same type of image that you did last time.

With endless variations, in light, weather, season and your own moods, there are infinite variations in how to photograph any particular subject. When you add in the multitude of ways you can possibly work your scene, this it makes photographing any given subject a very special and unique experience, each and every time.

By “working the scene,” I mean using different methods and techniques to fine tune your compositions, in order to increase the overall visual power of your photos.

Slight variations in everything from vantage point, framing, lens choice, exposure, what film simulation or color palette you choose, or if you apply other adjustments in the camera to alter the look of the scene can make a big difference in how the photo will look.

This is actually one of the most fun aspects of this whole craft. Getting lost in the zen of your own creativity there in the moment is what this whole process is all about. We do this not just for the finished pictures, but because we love the act of experimenting with our creative ideas and playing around with different looks, in order to make pictures that we enjoy, and that resonate with our own visual sense.

Working The Scene – Little Tiny Tundra Flower

A couple weeks ago, I did a solo hike with my Fujifilm X100V. It was one of those gorgeous June evenings, and upon arriving at a little flat patch on the hillside, I sat down in the tundra, ate my sandwich and spent a good ten minutes taking pictures of this little tiny flower that was next to me.

I was pleased to find the X100V has an extremely close focus distance of only 10cm (3.9 inches). This is closer than any of my other Fuji lenses, and when combined with the new Flip-up LCD screen, this makes shooting ground level closeups much easier and quite fun!

I quickly lost myself in the process of capturing frame after frame of this flower, and making slight tweaks to my composition and cameras settings, just to see what I could get. The collection of photos below represent the entire sequence of shots I made, and what creative and compositional changes and settings I applied to each one.

As you can see, there are a lot of possible looks you can get with simple framing adjustments, even if you don’t add in any other camera adjustments. Next time you’re out photographing, make sure you’re experimenting with different vantage points and framing options.

Velvia Film Sim, CLARITY -3
Velvia Film Sim, but this time CLARITY +3
Velvia Film Sim, CLARITY -5
Velvia Film Sim, CLARITY -5
Straight Velvia Film Sim, no other in camera adjustments.
Velvia Film Sim, CLARITY +5
Velvia Film Sim, no CLARITY adjustment
Velvia Film Sim, no CLARITY adjustment
Velvia Film Sim, COLOR +4

 

Velvia Film Sim, no CLARITY adjustment

 

CLASSIC Neg. Film Sim, COLOR +4

 

 

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


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Terry Bourk

I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


Roger Sinclair

You have done it again! Another triumph.

Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

Thank you, Dan.