NZPhotographer Issue 27, January 2020

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Often while immersed in capturing a stunning

landscape, bathed in beautiful warm light

at sunset, a passer-by will stop to talk to me.

The first and more than likely only question will

typically be; “what are you photographing?” As if there

is something that they are missing looking out over the

same fantastic vista in front of them. It is a question that

annoys me at times, partly because of being interrupted

from the moment I’m in, but also because it seems they

feel that this beautiful landscape is not worthy enough to

make a good photograph on its own. I could, and often

have replied to them with “this beautiful landscape, isn’t

it stunning?” They will generally seem a little disappointed

by this answer, as if they were expecting something else,

perhaps some exciting wildlife.

But in reality, it’s a very worthy question. Yes, I am

standing in front of this stunning landscape, but what part

of it is my subject? What is the story I wish to tell about

this landscape? If I point my camera towards this grand

vista without considering this, I am going to record the

scene without any personal or artistic interpretation. As

a photographic artist, it is my job, not just to capture this

landscape but to add my visual interpretation to it and

tell a story in my work. Sometimes it is also what we leave

out of a photograph that can help define our subject. A

painter has the luxury to choose what to include in their

painting, as a photographer, we often need to decide

what does not add to the image and how we can leave

this out. Deciding what to leave out of a photograph is

often harder than it sounds, especially when faced with

an amazing vista as it is all too easy to include everything.

I think there are three crucial elements that make up

any successful landscape photograph; subject, light,

and composition. Just shooting some beautiful light (e. g.

a fantastic sunset) is not enough on it own to make a

great image. If we start to break down the landscape in

front of us, we might wish to capture all of it, but which

part of it is most interesting? What part of this grand vista

should our subject be? Once we have made this choice,

we can then decide how to compose the photograph

to make this subject clear to the viewer. We can also

PINK BOULDER, LAKE OAHU

F11, 4s, ISO64

48

NZPhotographer

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