Categories
Landscape Street

Reinvention: Pushing Creativity

Manny Khan photo of a park bench with autumn leaves on it
The beauty of the fallen leaves saying goodbye. Flushing Meadows Corona Park, N.Y.

Manny Khan’s photographic journey began with the camera in his smartphone, and after a couple years of sharing images socially and generating positive feedback, Manny wondered about the possibilities that lie with a real camera. His first camera was a Nikon DSLR. Manny used that camera to teach himself about exposure, settings, and by watching how-to videos on YouTube and experimenting he found his niche and style. He’s since upgraded to a Nikon Z 7II mirrorless camera that fits his “evolved style of shooting”, as he notes.

His inspiration comes from the endless picturesque streets, waterfronts and skyline of NYC—year-round, being able to photograph these familiar subjects under different weather and lighting conditions.

Manny defines his work as storytelling through his compositions: “combining available light, shadows, color and textures that evoke emotion and drama in my photos.”

Manny Khan photo of a park bench and streetlamp in the snow
Winter wonderland in Roosevelt Island N.Y.

Challenge Yourself

When you’re photographing a similar subject often, you end up challenging yourself to make each image uniquely different from the last. The perspectives in the city are unlimited, lending to the myriad ways of photographing one subject so differently each time.

“The layout of NYC park benches is very intriguing to the eye. Pairing that with city views and lamp posts provides me opportunities to experiment with depth of field to frame my shots with the NYC skyline.”

He’ll often use low-angled perspectives or experiment with different points of view to draw the viewer into the image. Manny explains, “[With] Park benches in particular I look for foreground and any elements such as wooden textures and leading lines that may add to the dynamics of the shot.”

Manny Khan photo of a park bench covered in cherry blossom petals
The fallen blossoms beautifying the empty bench. Roosevelt Island, N.Y.

The Beauty of Cherry Blossoms

“Cherry blossoms are signs of new life. Their life cycle is short lived, yet they are so symbolic. I have always loved the unique beauty of cherry blossoms and the positive energy they evoke in people. During the month of April every year, it is an absolute delight to capture the cherry blossoms in NYC, particularly on Roosevelt Island.”

Photographing cherry blossoms on park benches allowed Manny to capture two of his favorite subjects—the blossoms and the park bench. He explains, “In the image of the cherry blossoms looking through the arm rest (above), the drizzle and gray skies helped achieve the moody tones for that image.” The image of the bench at night with the city in the background (below) used the same technique, but at a different time of day. Manny was able to use the light from the lamp post in the scene to provide additional lighting, to showcase the rich texture of the bench and compose the image with deep colors.

Manny Khan photo of a park bench at night with the NYC skyline in the background
Escaping into the blue hour. Gantry Plaza State Park, N.Y.

The Scene Makes the Image

Choosing how to photograph a landscape or cityscape can be subjective. Do you go out to shoot in bright sunshine or wait for gloomy, stormy days? Each of those images will give the viewer a different message. Manny says, “I generally compose my images of the locations I visit based on the weather conditions, surroundings and available light.”

“During cloudy and rainy days, I’m captivated with the gray skies, fog and soft light of the atmosphere—incorporating that with shadows and reflections to compose a dark and moody image, sometimes incorporating people with umbrellas which I feel adds to the storytelling of that particular image.”

Manny Khan photo of a park bench and cherry blossom tree
The fallen blossoms under the gloomy skies. Roosevelt Island, N.Y.

“On bright and sunny days, I love to capture the crisp blue skies and glow of sunlight. Those bright and colorful days are also perfect for nature walks and capturing the deep greens, yellows, and oranges.”

The next time you’ve got the urge to go out to shoot but don’t really have a subject in mind, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to take a new look at an old, familiar subject.

Categories
Landscape Photographic

Bold Composition

Soft morning light graces wildflowers and coastal plants along the Sonoma Coast, California.

David Thompson is an ordinary guy with a love for landscape photography. And with his images, he brings the viewer along on this journey to view the world’s natural beauty. His distinct style shines through images that speak volumes for themselves. Bold, vibrant colors and strong lines fill photographs that utilize light for added compositional effect.

“Landscape photography has made me have an appreciation for nature and the world we live in. My goal as a landscape photographer is to capture an intimate moment and bring the viewer into the scene as if they were standing right beside me.”

As the sun rises to the east and starts to creep over the nearby mountains, the expansive field of saguaro cacti, becomes backlit, bringing the desert to life. Saguaro National Park, Arizona.

Composition is a key component with David’s imagery, using strong leading lines, or if the scene demands it, contrasting colors, dark to light transitions or overlapping layers. “I like my images to have some type of visual flow and balance,” he explains.

David defines his work as diverse, quiet, reserved, subtle, with a little spice and flavor. Like other creators, he finds inspiration in many forms: in music, other landscape photographers, family and friends, and from ordinary everyday people trying to uplift others.

“What I love about the landscape is each one speaks differently and has its own unique character. I enjoy photographing these various characteristics of the landscape, as I find it intriguing and fascinating.”

David’s favorite time of day is sunrise, when soft light gives way to scenes awash with color. “The landscape is still and quiet first thing in the morning. I will always enjoy the soft pre-dawn light,” he says.

Many of his other images feature bold pops of color, strong lines carving through the landscape and often one color blanketing an entire scene, only to be broken up by highlight and shadow.

The midnight sun of summer breaks through the clouds to the west, displaying magical light, at one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls on the Southern Coast. Seljalandsfoss, Iceland. Using a small aperture of f/16 allowed for the starburst effect.

Go Big or Go Small

Landscape photography often encompasses everything from the smallest of minute details to wide open vistas.

Incoming waves pound a small sea cave along the northeastern coast of Maui during a winter sunrise. Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii.

“For me, I enjoy photographing smaller scenes. These are the scenes that people tend to overlook. The smaller scenes are challenging, as they don’t just stand out like the wide vistas. I think this is what makes the images more rewarding, when you can capture something unique and different. I also like that the smaller detailed scenes, because these are scenes that you can call your own.”

Glacial rivers meander seamlessly over the volcanic landscape like a paint brush on a canvas, on the Southern Coast of Iceland.

David offers the following advice for other landscape photographers: “Be yourself, be humble, be patient, accept the failures…small or big, trust the journey, dare to be different, take risks and step outside of the box with your imagery; and let the light dictate how and what you photograph.”

Categories
Landscape Photographic

Water. Powered.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls at sunset in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S.

Have you ever looked at images of waterfalls with the silky smooth look to the water and thought to yourself, how did the photographer do that? Jeremey, fascinated with water and the power it holds was hooked from the first long exposure waterfall image he saw. It doesn’t hurt that he’s only about 10 minutes from Niagara Falls in New York, which made it easy to practice the technique. The Finger Lakes region is full of picturesque waterfalls and is also accessible to him by car.

Jeremey’s images have a strong sense of mood. He defines his work as “something different with a slightly cinematic feel to it.”

Since many picturesque spots are also popular “instagram spots” Jeremey says he’ll make that quick shot but immediately look for a new angle or perspective to create something uniquely different from the crowds.

My favorite times to shoot are during sunset and sunrise. I love the light produced during these times. When the sun is low in the sky, it can create some great shadows which helps with the mood. I also tend to shoot a little underexposed to protect the highlights.

When everyone is shooting a sunset, I’ll turn around and see what’s behind us.

I try and push my colors around and find a unique look for a scene. Some of my favorite photographers have created a unique aesthetic and I strive to find my own as well.

Inspired by nature

Jeremey finds inspiration from nature.

Photography lets the busy world slow down and slip away for a few minutes. I always aim to try and show the viewer something they have never seen before.

One may think that a landscape photographer just goes out and snaps whatever scene is in front of their camera, but that isn’t always the case.

Whenever I plan a shoot, I spend a lot of time beforehand planning what types of shots I want to capture. I tend to look for natural lines. Once on a location, I look around for things I can use in frame, rocks in the water or a fallen tree. My goal is to try and create an interesting image. Sometimes that means sticking my lens through nearby trees or bushes to get a frame around my subject. I love layers and depth in my images. The foreground of a landscape is incredibly important, sometimes as much as the main subject. Sometimes you can just get low to the ground to add some interest.

Jeremey shares this analogy: To me, it’s like the frosting on the cake. Yeah, cake is good, but it’s that much better with frosting. A landscape photo can be great but with an interesting foreground or framing, it can be that much better.

I always push myself to try and find a new view, to capture something different. I think that comes from shooting Niagara Falls. When a location is shot so often, you have to think differently to find something unique.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls during autumn in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S.

Step by Step

Jeremey finds that sunrise and sunset are the best times to shoot, as they can be quite moody and dramatic.

I love shooting at and after sunset the most. I love the warmth you get when shooting during sunset or sunrise. You can also get some colors in your skies that adds interest to your image. With the sun being lower in the sky, you can get more dramatic shadows and highlights. Blue hour is also a great time to shoot. The blue tones you can capture play well off of a warm sunset or sunrise image.

Go to settings:

  • Shutter speed is a 1 second exposure, adjusting it based on the flow of the waterfall. For high, fast flowing water, an image can often be taken with a somewhat faster shutter speed. Those with a slower water flow need a longer exposure.
  • He’ll also look at the surrounding scene, tree branches or bushes, and adjust the shutter speed to balance out the moving water to the moving foliage.
  • To pull detail out of the smooth water and the surrounding scene, Jeremey sets an f/stop at f/8 – f/11.
  • And he typically uses a 2-5 stop variable ND / Mist filter to help block the light for longer exposures. The mist portion of the filter helps to bloom some of the highlights for a dream-like look.

To me, a silky-smooth waterfall always looks good but there can be times when the waterfall has an interesting look when frozen in time. A higher fall can really help the water to create some interesting shapes.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Chittenango Falls in autumn
Chittenango Falls during autumn in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and the NIKKOR Z 70-200 f/2.8 VR S.

Knowing your subject

Shooting at Niagara Falls can be a real gamble sometimes. The mist from the falls can really add some character to an image. It can catch the golden light from a sunset and really bring in some color. When moving the right way, it looks great, however the mist is at the mercy of the wind. There are times at the Horseshoe Falls when the wind blows the mist back into the falls which can block a good view. It can also soak your lens and equipment. Thankfully with the weather sealing in the Z 6, I don’t worry too much about it.

Whenever traveling, Jeremey is always on the lookout for a new waterfall to photograph. On day trips or family vacations, if there’s a waterfall in the area, he’ll plan to stop and shoot it.

Shooting new waterfalls is always thrilling and exciting but there is also comfort and familiarity shooting Niagara Falls. Being so close, I can run up to the park when I have some free time.

We asked Jeremey to share some advice for other landscape photographers:

  • Learn to shoot in all conditions.
  • Pay attention to your composition and adjust for distracting elements.
  • Experiment with different focal lengths and find your style. A wide-angle lens can show a large scene, full of interest. A telephoto lens will let you pick out details and find new looks.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Learn color theory. It can really help when editing colors and moving tones around without the image falling apart.