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CHAPTER 7: UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY

Martin Borg Rocky Nook ePub

Preconceived notions or prejudices about what nature or landscape photography is can be limiting. Take it to the edge and beyond. Don’t worry about the rules.

If you come across something unusual in your endeavors, your imagination is bound to figure into your photography. You’ll see things that aren’t really there. At moments like these, the goal is to make the image in your camera’s viewfinder match the image that forms in your head. It’s easy to reflect on the supernatural when documenting the wonders of the natural. Just think about the conceptions people used to have about seemingly inexplicable natural events: thunder was the anger of the gods and floods were punishment for moral wrongs. Nature photographs belong to this world of superstitions—if magic exists in anything at all, it exists in nature. These rock formations on Sweden’s island of Gotland were somewhat removed from a limestone area eroded by strong winds. I sensed right away that these fascinating forms had a mysterious charm to them. My dreamlike image depicts a scant two meters and thereby causes all sense of proportion to melt away. Whenever someone asks me about this image, I say, “It must be the fossil of a dinosaur foot!”

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CHAPTER 5: THE DETAILS OF NATURE

Martin Borg Rocky Nook ePub

If capturing the grand landscape is too daunting, turn instead to the trivial. The attentive eye is sure to find countless details and small surprises in the natural world. Go and stumble upon them.

How exciting is an image of a single pinecone? Not terribly. Detail photographs have the potential to impress, but you need to ensure that they don’t come off as documentary. One way around this is to focus on a whole heap of details instead of just one. I found the pinecones in this photo in a small sand pit at the foot of a pine tree and I wanted to create an image that conveyed their multiplicity. This is a simple but effective trick: a photo of many things can be more stimulating than a photo of one thing. A sort of graphic pattern of repetitions and reflections is achieved, but the pinecones are also still individual objects. As with all photographs of details in nature, you must be precise. I took special care to make sure the corners and border of this photo were relatively quiet. I also changed the way a few of the pinecones were positioned so that they pointed upward. It’s always a balancing act—if you alter the scene with too strong a hand, the results will appear contrived. I achieved the soft-focus effect with double exposure.

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CHAPTER 4: LANDSCAPES

Martin Borg Rocky Nook ePub

Broad viewpoints either require expansive vision or, just the opposite, a narrowed perspective. It depends entirely on what type of photograph you’d like to take. One thing is for sure—landscape photos have a special allure.

Special attention must be devoted to depth of field for landscape photos. To ensure that the foreground and the background of your image are in focus, select an aperture on the smaller side (f/22, for example). This will cause the shutter speed to slow down to allow enough light to reach the sensor (making a tripod indispensible). Using the autofocus in this situation can be difficult too; if the point of focus is too far away, the foreground of your image may be blurry, even with the restricted aperture. Setting the focus manually and using the distance markers on the lens is usually a better way to go. The rule of thumb here states that one third of your image should be in front of the point of focus and two thirds should be beyond it, so position the focus a little closer to the camera than to the object of your image to make sure that your foreground will be crisp. Do this precisely—nothing is more frustrating than opening up one of your images on your computer only to discover that part of it is blurry.

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CHAPTER 1: THOUGHTFUL PHOTOGRAPHY

Martin Borg Rocky Nook ePub

Nature photography can’t be rushed. With a little technical know-how, some preparation, and a touch of patience, you’ll be able to seize the right moment when it arises. The trick is to know where to look.

To capture truly enthralling nature and landscape images, there’s no avoiding it: you’ve got to beat the sun out of bed. This photo, for example, was taken in the middle of the night, at 2:15 a.m. (in Norway). Hard though it may be, if you can shake off your weaker self and pull yourself from your warm bed, you won’t regret it. Morning twilight brings out the best of the natural world—early morning fog, moonlight reflecting on calm waters—and makes every landscape shimmer in its fullest glory. Even if it means missing out on a few hours of sleep, it is well worth it to get an early start to a day of shooting.

On the Lofoten archipelago, Norway

* HBL 500 C/M,
50MM, F/22,
2 SEC., GRADUATED
ND FILTER

Stenshuvud National Park, Skåne, southern Sweden

HBL 500 C/M,
150MM, F/8,
SEC.

Nature is teeming with patterns and lines—the fundamental elements of a photograph. As photographers, we attempt to bring order to the chaos and present our subject in a pleasant or engaging manner. To do this, we must determine the right amount of information to include in our images. If we cram too much in, the image loses its form, and busyness overwhelms the viewer. Because of this, it’s important to edit out anything that isn’t essential to your subject. This idea applies to all images, regardless of whether there are physical lines and patterns in the image. A grove of trees, an assortment of stones, a tuft of grass—whatever the case, arrange the content of your image so that it works harmonically and effectively.

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CHAPTER 2: FINDING THE RHYTHM

Martin Borg Rocky Nook ePub

Landscape and nature photography provides the rare opportunity to consider image composition at length. There are only a few rules, but the list of potential subjects is endless.

Good photographers know how to create a pleasant rhythm in their images by ensuring that everything contributes to the image’s overall feel. Every detail won’t be an eye-catcher, but all of the elements should have meaning. There are some tried and true methods when it comes to setting up landscape photos.

An engaging foreground directs the viewer to the middle part of the image and finally to the background. This theory suggests that the foreground, middle, and background of an image each makes up about one third of the image’s total area—an idea that works pretty well in practice. First, find the right foreground; a logical middle section usually follows and a fitting background makes the image complete. As you set up your photograph according to this guideline, you can think about any number of details. How should the camera be positioned to get the best angle? How high should the camera be? How much of the image should the sky occupy? All of these questions—plus many more—have an impact on the final result. If you’re using a wide-angle lens, shifting the camera even half an inch can have a drastic effect on the photo angle. If the effect is successful you will create a smooth flow from the foreground to the background of your image, and beyond.

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