Pier Reflection

Location: Lake Cunningham, San Jose
Time: Sunrise
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/16 | 1/3s | ISO 100

I have been to Lake Cunningham Regional Park several times and always came up with a couple of good shots. The core group (except one person) decided to go to Lake Cunningham for Sunrise. One of those days where there was a lot of debate the previous night about where we should go for Sunrise. I didn’t feel like going anywhere far. So, I told the group that I am heading to Lake Cunningham as I wanted to execute a particular shot. Basically, I tried this shot last time but didn’t’ quite get it so wanted to try it again.

The group asked about potential shots we could get there and I sent them a few shots I took last time I was there. They were all interested and wanted to join. One of my friends came to my place and we carpooled together. Lake Cunningham is just about 15 minutes from my place. We met with the other two at the park.

When we go there, I realized that the shot I wanted to execute wasn’t possible as the Sun’s azimuth changed. I realized that where I thought the Sun was going to come up is not where it actually will. We did see a lot of clouds and colors already started to pop. All four of us went in different direction to find a comp we liked.

The last few times I was here, I wanted to get the reflection of the Pier. Unfortunately, the lens I had wasn’t wide enough and the Sun didn’t line up. This time around I had an ultra-wide lens that I knew will help me get the entire reflection. I also saw that the Sun was lining up nicely behind the Pier and all the action was happening behind the Pier.

I positioned myself in a place where I thought I’d be able to get full reflection. The place I was standing was a boat dock, which was covered with bird poop. I am not kidding. The entire dock was covered in poop. There was absolutely no way for me to step on the dock without stepping on poop. Of course, I stepped on poop. Anything for a good shot J

Apart from bird poop, there was another problem. The dock was moving for wind, waves, and when anyone walked. I knew that setting up the tripod wasn’t going to work. I waited for my friend to get off the dock, stood still and fired a few shots.

Looking at the Camera LCD, I realized that I got some good shots. I never trust the Camera LCD though. So many times, I have trusted that only to come home and realize the shots were not sharp or out of focus. This time around, I did end up with a good shot. I bracketed the shots so I merged the 3 shots in Lightroom and processed using my normal workflow.

Burst of Radiance!

Location: Carrizo Plains National Monument, California
Time: Midday
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/16 | 1/15s | ISO 100

One of those days where Escaype predicted high potential/zero skunk for northern areas with no fog. So, it wasn’t a question of whether I was going out but as usual, the question was where. One of my buddies pinged me and we started the back & forth. We have done this several times before. We keep debating about which location to go until the very last minute. Going forward, we should just pick one and go. It’s not like we only get one shot at this; if not today, we can go another day.

So, the debate was between SF and Pescadero. The last few times we went to both locations when predications were high, we got skunked. After a lot of back & forth, we decided to head to Pescadero. Even though the forecaster’s note said north is preferred, we thought Pescadero is north enough and we’ll see a good burn. All I got the last 2 or 3 trips to Pescadero were yellow skies. I hoped and wished for a colorful Sunset.

Now that we decided on going to Pescadero, the question was where specifically in Pescadero. We had multiple options – Piegon Point, Bean Hollow Beach, and Pescadero State Beach. Since all 3 locations were within 10 minutes of each other, we decided to start at Bean Hollow and decided where to go. Since we got skunked the last few times, both of us were skeptical as to whether or not it’ll be a good show.

I headed to my friends place as the plan was for me to park my car there and go with him to Pescadero. I got caught in some heavy traffic on Highway 17 but it was expected. I got to my friends place as planned and we hit the road right away. Since we had plenty of time for Sunset, we decided to check out Greyhound Rock Beach on the way.

The hike down to Grey Hound Beach wasn’t too bad. It took us about 10 minutes to get down to the beach. It was super windy. There was hardly anyone in the beach. We knew that the time was not right to get any good shots as the Sun was pretty harsh. But this was more of a scouting detour than anything else. With so much wind, it was hard to even keep our eyes open; sand was flying everywhere. We walked around a bit and experimented with a few shots. After about 20 minutes on the beach we decided to head back. Obviously, the hike up was a bit more difficult but it wasn’t bad at all.

From Grey Hound Rock Beach, we headed straight to Bean Hollow Beach. We pulled into a beach where we saw signs for Bean Hollow. But that turned out to be the first entrance. We wanted to go to the second one. After a few experimental shots, we drove to the 2nd location. The beach was filled with rocks. Not really big sea stacks but lot of rocks with interesting texture. Bean Hollow is a very unique beach; I can’t quite explain what I saw. Many of the rocks had holes in them and the holes were filled with pebbles.

With some difficulty, we got down to a place where we thought will be good to setup our tripods. It was high tide and the waves started getting bigger by the minute. We spent about 20 to 25 minutes there trying different shots. We started seeing colors pop in the sky. We had a feeling the clouds were going to light up. The question now was to decide whether to stay where we were or to head to Pigeon Point. Honestly, I didn’t like the comp at Bean Hollow. There’s so many rocks, it’s hard to isolate anything. If we spent enough time there, I am sure we would have come up with some good comp. But, both of us agreed that we should head to Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

The drive took less than 10 minutes. We first went to the location that we usually shoot from, which is about a mile or so south of the Lighthouse. When we got there, we realized that the Sun and all the colors that were happening would not be in our frame at all due to the angle. Here came another question. Should we stay and try our luck or head to the Lighthouse and shoot from there. We decided to head to the Lighthouse.

As soon as we parked the car, we took our gear and ran to one corner of the Lighthouse property where we thought would be a good spot to capture most of the burn. Oh yeah, the burn already started and it was simply superb. It was one of the best Sunsets that I’ve seen and definitely THE best Sunset from Pigeon Point. When we got to the spot, I saw a young guy with his parents. I assume he was one of the guys from my Escaype group but I didn’t want to start a conversation. I started firing away.

Moving a few feet, I realized that the Sun was going behind one of the hostel buildings and I decided to go for the starburst. Unfortunately, there was so much dust and moisture on my lens that I kept getting halos. I did get starburst but not a clean one. I decided to switch my lens and give it a shot but by that time, the Sun went behind the building.

I knew I can add the starburst in post processing. It may not look ‘real’ to some trained eyes but I decided to give it a shot. I went through my normal workflow in Lightroom and then took the photo to Photoshop to add the star as well as clean up the photo. I posted the photo in my Escaype group and got some good feedback, which I incorporated.

After posting the shot, I now realize that the star wasn’t needed after all. The photo by itself would have still been spectacular. Lesson learned! I probably won’t add starburst in post anymore.

Week 18 – Urbanscape

The Challenge for Week 18 of my 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Urbanscape/Cityscape. Over the course of last year, I have done some cityscapes. I definitely enjoy shooting cityscapes. Somehow the city lights portrays the hustle and bustle of the city life. Even though I have tired shooting SF Cityscape a couple of times, I’d say I have not been very successful. I did get one shot during a sunrise visit to Embarcedero but my trip to Treasure Island wasn’t very successful.

When I thought about this challenge, the first thought that came to mind was to head to SF to shoot the beautiful skyline. Another thought was to shoot the Boston Skyline.  The challenge was Urbanscape so I decided to do a bit of research on what is a definition of an Urbanscape. What I have realized is that Urbanscape; at least Urbansacpe Photography is a bit difficult to define as it sits between a number of different genres of photography – cityscapes, architecture, street photography, etc.

So, I was looking for a creative way to take on this week’s challenge. When I wen to Sierra Open Preserve in San Jose, I knew that the city lights will come on right after golden hour. I knew I wanted to take a shot of the hustle & bustle of Silicon Valley from the top of the hill. Although, I didn’t know what my comp would be.

For the majority of the time while at Sierra Open Preserve, my goal was to find a good comp for Sunset. After the Sun set behind the horizon, I started looking for comp ideas for the Urbanscape challenge.

I saw this scene where the sky was burning on one side and beautiful colors were happening on the others. The foregound was beautiful greenery and middle-ground was the Silicon Valley citylights. Not a ‘textbook’ definition of Urbanscape but to me, this definitely fits the bill. The busyness of the city can be seen from the hill top, where it was so peaceful and serene. It not only shows the city life but also that calm and serenity is just minutes away. I liked the yin/yang relationship here.

 

Road to Painted Hills

Location: Carrizo Plains National Monument, California
Time: Midday
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM | 80mm | f/11 | 1/500s | ISO 100

Another shot from my trip to Carrizo Plains National Monument. So many beautiful places in California that I didn’t even know about. It’s funny how we live in a place for so many years but not know about many of beautiful places. Over the course of last year and half, I have been to so many different places, experienced and enjoyed so many different things, all thanks to Photography; more importantly, the Photography Group that I am part of.

I mentioned this to one of my photography buddies and he said he has lived in the Santa Cruz area for more than 2 decades but didn’t even know so many places even existed. I recently got a book from Library about Photography; specifically, different photography locations/spots in California. Wow! So many different places that I had no clue about. I don’t think I’ll be able to cover even 25% of the places listed on that book. I may hit many of the areas but not all the spots in a particular area.

One such place that I had no idea about was Carrizo Plains National Monument. As soon as I saw photos of the place, I wanted to go. I also heard that this year was a super bloom and there were lot more flowers this year than in the past. I should have gone as soon as I heard about this place but I waited and I missed out. Well, I didn’t miss out completely but had I gone a couple of weeks before, I would have seen lot more colors.

Anyways, on the way to Carrizo, we decided to stop on Highway 58 as we have seen some great shots from there. The first spot we stopped on Highway 58 was to shoot the long, straight, up & down road leading to the Hills filled with Wildflowers.

After that stop, we stopped several times to shoot different scenes along Highway 58. One such location yielded to this shot. The first one was long, straight, up & down road leading to vast hills. This one was also from the middle of the road but to hills much closer but fully covered with Wildflowers. I loved this scene so I took several shots. Some in landscape orientation and some in portrait orientation. I bracketed my shots so I can get maximum dynamic range. I stood in the middle of the Highway to take my shots while my buddies watched for oncoming cars. We took turns shooting from the middle of the road and watching for cars.

From a processing stand-point, I first tried making the scene very vibrant, which yielded in a more organe-ish scene. I dialed it back and brought it to more of a natural yellow that I saw while I was there.

 

Mirror Mirror!

Location: Carrizo Plains National Monument, California
Time: Midday
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 16mm | f/8 | 1/2000s | ISO 100

After we stopped at a few places on Highway 58, we decided to head to the meeting spot within Carrizo Plains National Monument to meet up with the group. The meeting organizer was already there. We were one of the first people to arrive. There were more than 2 dozen people that signed up for the event. It took a while for everyone to show up. The more time it took, the more irritated the organizer got 🙂

Once everyone showed up, the organizer told us the general direction we’ll be going and took off. We had to scramble to keep up with him. He’s the first car leading about 7 other cars, going pretty fast. With so much dirt from his car, it was very difficult to follow him. But everyone tried their best to keep up. Unlike the fall colors meetup in the Eastern Sierras, no one got lost 🙂

One of the first spots we stopped was this place with yellow flowers everywhere. On the other side of the field of flowers was this beautiful lake. As soon as I saw the lake, I wanted to go there to shoot the reflection. I knew I had a Symmetry Challenge to complete and I love reflections.

When I got to the lake, I saw perfect reflection of the painted hills. I also saw some tumble weed in the foreground that reflected well. I wanted to get closer to the water so I can avoid the lake bank, which had lot of distractions. When I took a couple of steps, I realized that the floor was not quite solid. My shoes started sinking. I thought I can be quick and take a few shots. But, within a matter of seconds, my shoe got completely wet.

I decided to walk to the far end of the lake to see if I could get the entire lake and maximize the reflection. After about 10-15 minutes of walking (and stopping along the way to take photos), I noticed that there was lot of wind on the far end of the lake causing the reflection to be fuzzy.

I walked almost all the way back to where I started and took this shot. It’s actually a 3 shot HDR blend. There was some foreground that cropped out of the frame.

Week 15 – Symmetry

The Challenge for Week 15 of my 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Symmetry, which is often considered one of the hardest compositions to pull off. Symmetry, in Photography (and art in general) refers to a line (called the line of symmetry) that splits an image in half, either horizontally or vertically, and if both sides of the image are mirror images of each other, then the image is said to be symmetrical.

Visual balance is a key compositional technique that can bring harmony and stability to an image. An unbalanced image on the other hand can make an image feel dynamic. Not all photos can (or should) be balanced. It i up to the Photographer to decide what he/she is trying to achieve with a photo. The scene also determines whether or an image can even be balanced.

One of the easiest ways to achieve balance in a photo is to shoot a symmetrical scene. Symmetry can be found easily in nature; mirror-like reflections of a landscape on water is a good example. If you read articles on Composition, you’ll see that symmetry is listed as one of those compositional techniques that works extremely well but is not easy to achieve. A slightest misalignment can lead to a distracting image.

For this week’s challenge, I took this shot of the beautiful ‘painted’ hills at Carrizo Plains National Monument reflecting in one of the lakes. The moment I saw this scene, I knew I had to shoot a balanced reflection for the Symmetry challenge. This wasn’t an easy shot to achieve for multiple reasons. One, there were lot of distracting elements in the foreground. Second, the foreground was wet and muddy so standing in one place for more than 15 seconds resulted in wet shoes. Finally, from a composition stand-point, it was difficult to figure out the best way to achieve symmetry.

Well, my shoes got completely wet and muddy but I got a shot that I was able to work with. In my mind, a good example of Symmetry in nature.

 

 

Week 12 – Sense of Scale

The 12th Challenge in my 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Sense of Scale. The first thing that popped into my head when thinking about Sense of Scale is to shoot a vast Landscape like Yosemite and put myself in the frame to truly showcase a Sense of Scale.

It’s a simple but effective technique to bring dimensionality to your photos. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a person in front of a grand landscape. It can be a car, trees, rock, or any prop which allows viewers to make a connection between what’s in the foreground and the surrounding environment to get a true sense of scale.

I was looking for a grand landscape where I could do this. The opportunity didn’t quite present itself. However, I saw another opportunity to this during one of my Photo outing in the wee hours of the morning to shoot the Milky Way.

This may not showcase a sense of scale like a person standing in front of a vast landscape would but think about the real sense of scale here. It is said that our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is so big that even at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to travel across it. All the starts you see in the night sky, including our own Sun, are just a portion of the residents of the Milky Way Galaxy. There are millions of stars that are too faint to be seen. That’s just our Milky Way Galaxy. Beyond our own galaxy, there’s a vast expanse of other galaxies. More and more galaxies are being discovered. It is said that there are billions of galaxies. It is said that light from some of these galaxies set out billions of years ago. Meaning, the light we see today actually originated long before there was any life on Earth.

Here’s what Nasa says about the size of our Milky Way Galaxy: “How Big is the Milky Way? Imagine that our entire Solar System were the size of a quarter. The Sun is now a microscopic speck of dust, as are its nine planets, whose orbits are represented by the flat disc of the coin. How far away is the nearest star to our sun? In our model, Proxima Centauri (and any planets that might be around it) would be another quarter, two soccer fields away. This is the typical separation of stars in our part of the galaxy.” Credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STSCI/NASA); US Mint

Think about that for a minute! To me, there is no better example of Sense of Scale than this photo of me looking at the Milky Way. It may not look like much but what you are seeing is only part of our Milky Way, which is one of billions of Galaxies in our vast and awesome Universe. Our Solar System is just a speck in the Milky Way Galaxy; earth is even smaller speck. Think about how we (humans) compare to the vastness of the Milky Way Galaxy and the Universe.

 

Week 10 – Movement

The goal for Week 10 of the 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Movement. Photography, is a all about capturing a moment, which essentially means you are stopping motion and freezing the frame. Even though we freeze the frame with our photos, we have multiple options when doing this. We can freeze a fast moving race car with a 1/1000 of a second or higher. Alternatively, we can keep our shutter open long (or even ultra-long) to let in more light; say to capture the night sky.

When talking about movement in Photography, there are multiple ways to do it – fast shutter speed, slow shutter speed, panning, motion blur, lens blur, etc. Shutter Speed is what determines how you capture the movement of your scene.

I love long-exposure shots. Every time I am near a waterbody, I try to show movement by going with long-exposure as I like the smooth water rather than fast shutter speed. Somehow, the though of elongated time makes the scene look ethereal.

For this challenge, I didn’t want to do a long exposure. Definitely, not an ultra-long exposure. I have seen some photos online where the waves are frozen. Not a fast shutter speed nor a very slow shutter speed. Something that just freezes the wave in the air. When I was in Garrapata State Park, I tried to do this. After a few failed attempts, I got a shot where I froze the wave crashing the sea stack. Since I was shooting at f/22, I was able to capture a starburst of the setting Sun as well.

I thought this was a good example of capturing movement.

Week 7 – Long Exposure

The challenge for week 7 of my 52 week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Long Exposure. The goal for this week was to slow down the shutter speed, significantly. When you hear Long Exposure, one of the first things that come to mind is a waterscape where the waves have been smoothed while keeping some element in the frame sharp like foreground rock or bridge. However, Long Exposure can basically be anything. As long as you slow down your shutter speed to show motion, it’s considered long exposure. There is no clear definition of what Long Exposure is.

Long Exposure Photography portrays time; at least, that’s the intent. Moving clouds or waves or light trails or even star rails all portray time or passing of time in your photos. For a photo to be considered long exposure, you don’t necessarily have to use a certain shutter speed. As long as your intention is to capture moving objects with a shutter speed and exposure time longer than ‘necessary’, then it qualifies as Long Exposure. Some people use Long Exposure in a busy street to blur people and create a ghostlike feel. Some people take it a step further. If they are in a busy monument or natural attraction and they don’t want people in their photo, they use a ultra-long exposure and anyone that does not stay stationary for a long time disappear from the photo.

Here’s an example of Long Exposure that I shot for this week’s challenge. This is a shot of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Skyline shot from Treasure Island. This was well past Sunset and my goal was to use a Long Exposure (about 2 minutes) to capture all the lights from the Bay Bridge as well as the Skyline. Not what you think when you hear Long Exposure but definitely fits the bill for this week’s challenge.

52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge

Overview: This is my version of a 52 Week Photo Challenge solely focused on Landscape Photography; specifically, learning and improving Landscape Compositional Techniques.

Goal: Go out and shoot photos using specific Compositional Techniques so I can tell a compelling story with my photos

Ground Rules:

  • There is no specific start date for this challenge. However, challenges are ordered in the form of complexity. So, going in order may be helpful.
  • Have to take new Photos for this Challenge. Can’t use Photos from the past.
  • Tackle 1 Photo Challenge per week or try multiple Challenges. But the goal is to learn each Compositional Technique well enough that it becomes second nature.
Week Challenge Challenge Parameters
Week 1 Rule of Thirds We start this Landscape Photo Challenge with one of the most used Compositional Techniques and something that works extremely well – the Rule of Thirds. Go out and shoot your favorite scene using the Rule of Thirds as the Primary Compositional Technique.
Week 2 Leading Lines Lead your viewer through your scene by using Leading Lines as your Primary Compositional Technique for this week.
Week 3 Panorama This is a great opportunity to explore panorama stitching and create a wide sweeping landscape. Capture multiple images and stitch together rather than using an ultra-wide angle lens for this challenge.
Week 4 Framing your Subject Another classic compositional tool is to frame the subject within the frame of the image. Look for natural frames so you can ‘frame’ your subject this week.
Week 5 Reflection For this week’s challenge, go find a perfect reflection. How can you use Reflection to convey your story?
Week 6 Zoomed in Put your telephoto lens to use this week. Instead of shooting a wide sweeping landscape, try to zoom-in on your subject today and eliminate everything else from your frame.
Week 7 Long Exposure The goal for this week is to slow down your shutter speed, significantly. Go for an exposure longer than 30 seconds. Time to use the bulb mode on your camera. Try a waterscape or even a busy landmark to see the magic happen.
Week 8 B&W Look for a scene with great contrast that will make a great black and white. Use Mr. Ansel Adams as your inspiration for this week.
Week 9 Simplify The goal for this week is to simplify. Simplify the scene to make your primary subject stand out.
Week 10 Movement How do you show movement in a 2D medium? That’s the goal for this week. The goal is to showcase movement in your landscape.
Week 11 Texture By cleverly using textures you can bring a tactile dimension to your photographs and make they come alive; become three dimensional. When light hits your subject at interesting angles, all the textures come into play. Experiment with different angles and use texture as this week’s primary compositional technique.
Week 12 Sense of Scale Bring dimensionality into your photo. One way to achieve this is to include compositional elements that provide a sense of scale in the picture. Use objects of known size so the viewer can make a connection between them and the surrounding environment and get a true sense of scale.
Week 13 Geometry Rectangles, Circles, Triangles, Polygons, Arches, Parallel & Converging Lines, etc. It doesn’t matter what Geometric shape you use, the goal is to make the geometric shape the primary focus of your photo this week. Can you combine multiple geometric shapes in a photo?
Week 14 At least 2 Comp Techniques Shoot your favorite scene but use at least 2 Compositional Techniques.
Week 15 Symmetry Often considered one of the hardest compositions to pull off, Symmetry. Challenge yourself this week by shooting a symmetrical landscape.
Week 16 Foreground The goal for this week is to shoot a scene where you showcase a strong foreground element.
Week 17 Left to Right There is theory that says we ‘read’ an image from left to right in the same way we would read text. For this reason, it is suggested that any motion portrayed in a photograph should flow from left to right. So try to capture a scene where there is story that goes from left to right.
Week 18 Urbanscape The goal this week is to shoot an urbanscape/cityscape.
Week 19 Center the Subject One of the key composition guidelines is that we not center our subjects unless doing so enhances the subject or benefits the composition. There are many situations, however, when centering your subject is appropriate and necessary. So, for this week’s challenge, put your main subject in the center.
Week 20 Horizontal Line Horizontal lines tend to indicate a sense of homeostasis (lack of change). Horizontal lines can be used when you want to impart a sentiment of timelessness or lack of change to an image.
Week 21 Extreme Subject Placement For this week’s challenge, try to place your main subject in what would be considered ‘extreme placement’; far left, far right, top corner, bottom corner; it doesn’t matter. Try extreme placement.
Week 22 Balance Balance is the compositional technique of giving each area in a scene equal visual weight. You can achieve balance using color, tone, or juxtaposed subjects. Whatever technique you use, the goal is to show a clear sense of balance.
Week 23 Complimenting Colors Time to get familiar with the color wheel. Search for Photography Color wheel as it’s different. Shoot a scene with complimenting colors.
Week 24 Contrasting Colors Last week you shot a scene with complimenting colors. This week, do the opposite. Shoot a scene with contrasting colors.
Week 25 Get Low Time to look at the world from a different angle. Shoot a landscape from a low point of view.
Week 26 Get High Everything looks different when you are high. Find a high perspective to shoot this landscape. Drone, Helicopter, Tall Building, Hilltop; it doesn’t matter. Get High.
Week 27 Fast Shutter Speed This week’s challenge is to shoot a scene with a fast shutter speed. At least 1/500 or higher.
Week 28 Deep DOF The goal for this week is to get everything in your photo to be super sharp; from the foreground to the middleground to all the way in the background.
Week 29 Shallow DOF Last week’s goal was Deep or Large DOF. This week try the opposite. Shoot a scene and showcase Shallow DOF.
Week 30 Diagonal Line Diagonal lines can convey a sense of action or make an image more dynamic. For this  week’s challenge, use Diagonal Lines to make your image look more dynamic.
Week 31 Cropping Although our goal is to capture every shot perfectly, it doesn’t always happen. Cropping can help you get to the right composition even if you didn’t shoot it that way. This week, take a photo of your favorite scene and crop it in different ways to see which crop you like the best.
Week 32 Positive/Negative Space Negative space, sometimes referred to as white space, is a concept that’s been used in art, design, architecture, and sculpture for hundreds of years. It’s equally useful in photography, and can be used to turn an average photo into an outstanding one. Put simply, negative space is the area which surrounds the main subject in your photo (the main subject is known as the “positive space”). For this week’s challenge, shoot a scene where you clearly use Negative Space to emphasize the main subject of your photo.
Week 33 Camera Position Photographing from a different viewpoint or camera angle can often add drama and excitement or even bring out an unusual aspect of a subject. This week try changing your viewpoint or camera angle to capture something different.
Week 34 Foreground/Middle/Background Try to capture a scene where the Foreground, Middleground, and Background are clearly separated and showcased.
Week 35 Rule of Space The rule of space relates to the direction the subject(s) in your photo are facing or moving towards. Shoot something to showcase the Rule of Space. Meaning, give your subject room to move.
Week 36 At least 3 Comp Techniques Shoot your favorite scene but use at least 3 Compositional Techniques.
Week 37 Perspective How you shoot a scene determines what kind of story you want to tell and what kind of mood you want viewers to feel when they look at a photo. The power of perspective is beyond the consideration of your photography subjects; it is about the angle of your camera, your proximity to the subjects and what you include in the frame that plays an important role in your final image. For this week’s challenge change your perspective. Shoot the same subject from multiple perspectives; get low, get high, shoot up, shoot down, shoot from the Hip, shoot through another object, frame your subject. Experiment and find a subject that you can shoot from different perspectives. Or, shoot different subjects in different perspectives.
Week 38 Jagged & Irregular Lines Jagged and irregular lines take us one step further on the continuum of emotion and feeling. While diagonals move us into the area of the dynamic, jagged and irregular lines often impart a sense of unease, tension, or fear to the viewer of the image. Shoot a scene where you showcase Jagged and Irregular lines.
Week 39 Juxtaposition Juxtaposition is one of those compositional rules that seems tricky at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. Juxtaposition happens when there are two or more elements in a scene that either contrast with each other, or one element contributes towards the other to create an overall theme.
Week 40 Contrast & Tone Tonal contrast is created when light tones and dark tones lie alongside each other. Images with strong tonal contrast tend to work well in both black and white and color. For this week, shoot a scene with strong tonal contrast. Process in both color & Black & White to see which one you like.
Week 41 Golden Triangle You have mastered the Rule of Thirds. Now it is time to experiment with a new Compositional Technique; the Golden Triangle. What is it? Well, you’ll have to do a bit of research. But its pretty straight-forward. I promise.
Week 42 Figure to Ground Another important but often overlooked compositional technique is what’s called ‘Figure to Ground’. Pretty much that means to have a good contrast between your subject and background. That means, have a dark figure against a light background. Or a light subject against a dark background. One way you can create a strong ‘figure-to-ground’ in your photograph is to shoot a silhouette of a subject. Experiment this week and create a strong figure to ground image this week.
Week 43 Colorful Shoot a landscape that packs as much color as you can find into the scene.
Week 44 HDR HDR is the technique of combining several photos of the same scene but shot at different exposures to create an image with a High Dynamic Range. Shoot your favorite scene but bracket your shots and create a HRD image.
Week 45 Pattern Get inspired by the rhythm that patterns bring to your images.
Week 46 Distractions The goal for this week is pretty simple. Avoid distractions! Eliminate anything that is not necessary in the image or doesn’t add to your story. Practice the art of subtraction. Keep only things that are absolutely necessary.
Week 47 Rule of Odds The rule of odds states that images are more visually appealing when there is an odd number of subjects. This week try shooting something where there are odd number of subjects.
Week 48 Form Line, shape, and form are three building blocks to add depth and interest to your photos. The goal is to try to bring the 3rd dimension to your photo. Use sidelight; Use reflection; go close to the subject and use wide angle lens. Regardless of the technique, the goal this week is to show form.
Week 49 At least 4 Comp Techniques Shoot your favorite scene but use at least 4 Compositional Techniques.
Week 50 Golden Ratio/Rule The Golden Ratio has been used as a powerful composition tool for centuries. The reason for this is simple, the Golden Ratio allows for a composition that is perfectly balanced from a viewer’s perspective, creating a photograph that is most pleasing to the human eye. We naturally prefer to look at an image that is balanced and harmonized, and the Golden Ratio provides this. It’s time for you to use the Golden Ration in your Photography.
Week 51 Focus Stacking Focus stacking is similar in principle to HDR. However, with focus stacking, images are captured with different focus points, and later combined in Photoshop, to create an image with more DOF than would be possible with a single exposure. For this week’s challenge, experiment with Focus Stacking to create an image where everything (or almost everything) is in sharp focus.
Week 52 Break the Rule Congrats! Hope you learned a thing or two by participating in this 52 week Landscape Composition Challenge. More importantly, hope you had fun. Now that you know the rules, it’s time to break em’. For your final challenge, break one or more of the ‘rules’ to put your artistic signature. As Ansel Adams said: “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
Special Thanks to Dogwood Photography for letting me use his 52 Week Challenge series as an inspiration to come up with my 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge. You can find his challenges at:
2016 – https://dogwood.photography/52weekchallenge.html
2017 – https://dogwood.photography/52weekchallenge2017.html