Costa Rica Photography Workshop: Landscape Photo Tips from Ansel Adams
August 23, 2013
Ansel Adams’ iconic black and white landscapes made him one of the most well known, and well respected, photographers in the world. And while he’s most famous for his photographs of the American West and Yosemite National Park, there are still plenty of takeaways for students of our photography workshops in Costa Rica.
Read on for five landscape photography lessons, straight from the mouth of the legend.
“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” Point of view is one of the most crucial concepts of a photograph. Where you stand and how you position your lens—whether you’re standing, leaning, crouching, laying down, on a rooftop, removed from the action or right up in it, can change an image drastically. Whether you’re photographing an ocean or a desert, a beach or a jungle, where you stand and how you position yourself will determine what kind of photograph you get.
“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” Timing is another important integral piece of the equation. For landscape photographers like Adams, it could refer to the time of year (when the flowers first blossom or when the maple leaves turn fiery orange), or the time of day (when the light reflects just so off the water). A good landscape photograph is a collision of light and weather, and sometimes the photographer must wait patiently for the elements to align. Other times, photographs present themselves in an instant, like a gift, reminding you to always be prepared.
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” While the subject of Adams’ most prominent work favored nature over people, he acknowledged that a piece of himself is evident in every photograph he ever took. When you compose a photo you’re telling a story. That story is then transmitted to and interpreted by whoever views that photograph. Every photograph should be taken while mindful of the three lenses involved—the camera lens, the photographer’s lens, and the lens of the viewer.
“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” No matter how clear your photo is—how sharp, striking the contrast, or well edited it is, if the content of the photo is otherwise empty, you may as well have never taken it.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Most of the time it isn’t enough to simply show up with your camera. Photographers have to keep in mind light and contrast, point of view and framing, motion and emotion. While your goal is to capture a moment in your surroundings, you are in control of the message you send to the viewer. Be mindful and compose the photo before you click the shutter.
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