top of page
Search

Border Patrols and Background Checks


Mt. Herard and Medano Creek at sunset, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
(Click to enlarge.) Mt. Herard and Medano Creek at sunset, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.

A wise photographer once observed that the $10 photographer sees a scene he likes and takes the picture. The $100 photographer sees the scene, steps three feet to the left, and takes the picture. The $1,000 photographer sees the scene, steps three feet to the left, steps one foot back to the right, and takes the picture. Selecting the right camera position is that critical. In fact, sometimes moving the camera just an inch or two can significantly improve the composition of a grand landscape if some elements within the frame are close to the lens. Precise compositions—those in which a small movement of the camera produces a significant change in the composition—are often pleasing because the photograph seems like a carefully considered record of a particular place, rather than a generic image that could have been made anywhere within a hundred-yard radius.


A weathered juniper and the Green River Overlook glow pink at dawn, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
(Click to enlarge.) A weathered juniper and the Green River Overlook glow pink at dawn, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

To compose precisely, you must pay attention to two things: the relationship of each part of your subject to the edge of the frame, and the relationship of each part of the subject to every other part as well as the background. Or, to put it more pithily, you must do border patrols and background checks.