Travel Photography: Mountains and Snow Landscapes
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Understanding camera position and depth in a winter landscape shot


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Travel Photography: Mountains and Snow Landscapes

with Ben Long

Video: Understanding camera position and depth in a winter landscape shot

Would you look at this? I mean, really, what more do you need when you're out shooting? I've got these incredible total and line plays here between the rock and the snow. The white against the gray of the rock and this wonderful line that its shadow makes, but these two white trees in the distance are really the kicker part of this image, so, let me show you what I'm thinking here. I'm focusing on the rock. I'm shooting at F8 to get deep depth of field. I'm trying to frame the whole tree.

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Watch the Online Video Course Travel Photography: Mountains and Snow Landscapes
2h 27m Intermediate May 09, 2014

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Snow-covered landscapes introduce a variety of photographic opportunities and challenges. A blanket of brilliant white can do beautiful things with light, but it also complicates exposure. Crystal-blue winter skies are dramatic, but shooting in the cold can be cumbersome and hard on your gear.

In this course, photographer, author, and educator Ben Long takes a trip to Lake Tahoe to explore winter shooting at various times of the day. He also shows techniques for post-processing winter scenes to make them look their best.

Subject:
Photography
Author:
Ben Long

Understanding camera position and depth in a winter landscape shot

Would you look at this? I mean, really, what more do you need when you're out shooting? I've got these incredible total and line plays here between the rock and the snow. The white against the gray of the rock and this wonderful line that its shadow makes, but these two white trees in the distance are really the kicker part of this image, so, let me show you what I'm thinking here. I'm focusing on the rock. I'm shooting at F8 to get deep depth of field. I'm trying to frame the whole tree. So, that's pretty good.

I'd rather not have those trees over there, so I'm going to step this way. And, you know, this is one where again, I'm, I'm pre-visualizing. I think this might be a really weird crop. I think this might be a tall, skinny frame. But I'm not sure so I'm padding in different ways. I'm trying to get the composition right in frame and I'm also giving myself room to crop by zooming out, and, and padding the shot. But there's something else that I want to do here. And this is basic Photo 101 stuff, but it's very easy to forget.

I came walking down this hill to right here, and turned to my right and saw this and went, wow. And, I don't know that I actually made that sound, but, anyway. And and, to be honest, I hope I don't make that sound again. It was kind of a dumb sound. Anyway, I, so I shot this, and that shot may be the keeper image. I don't know. It doesn't matter how good a photographer you are, you have to work your shot. You have to move around. Don't think that, "Well, if I can't visualize it in my head, it means I'm not a good photographer." Nah, every photographer has to look through that viewfinder and lay their eyes on the scene and see it.

So you've seen me working it a little bit. You've seen me move left and right to play with the composition cropping that tree out, but now I'm going to do something a little different, I'm going to move back. And here's why. From where I'm standing right now, I have to frame this shot, at 14 mm. Now that's a 14 mm on a crop-sensor camera. The sensor has a 1.6X crop, so that that's actually like 22 mm on a full-frame camera, somewhere around there. That means that I'm shooting pretty wide angle and that means that that wide angle is allowing me to stand very close to my subject.

If I move backwards and zoom in, I'm going to have a different relationship between the rock and the trees. I'm going to be able to make them appear as if they're closer together. And I'm going to see what that looks like, because it's going to possibly create a very different atmosphere. Oh lookie there. The other thing that gets me right off the bat is, it takes out that tree on the right. It also ends up, I believe, I gotta go back and look at the other image, it also makes them look, like there's more space in-between them, horizontally. So this is standing back zoomed in.

That's standing up close zoomed out. Look at that. That's a huge difference. Those are two very different pictures. I'm not sure which I like better, and I don't have to decide right now. What I need to do right now is understand ooh, right, I want to get all the different possibilities here. So what does focal length buy me? So, I knocked that one off real quick. I want to just take a quick look at the frame now. That tree on the right now looks like it's growing right out of that clump of snow. I don't think that bothers me.

But I can play some more with that relationship, or, I can put them back closer together like they were in the other shot. I'm definitely now away from that long, skinny crop idea. I don't know. There's a lot to play with here. I'm gathering up as much raw material as I possibly can. I've gone in a lot of different directions here. The point I want you to take away from this is don't forget to move forward and backward and play with focal length. Because it dramatically rearranges the things in your scene. It really plays with they relationships.

And that allows you to create very different fields. If that concept is new to you, you need to check out my Foundations of Photography: Lenses course. We cover the whole thing in there, and you'll understand a little bit more about the effect of camera position and focal length on the sense of depth in your scene.

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