Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Working a shot over time, part of Exploring Composition in Photography.
- I'll bet you've heard the expression, "The world is run by those who show up," and the same is true for photography or art in general. Those who actually participate (laughs) are most likely to have the most successful work. So here I wanna talk about working a composition over time, that is, showing up repeatedly and being patient. Very often when you're out shooting landscape portraits, whatever you're shooting, the first time that you capture an image may be it's not the best time for capturing that particular image. This is definitely true for landscape where atmospheric conditions and light and shades and contrast are always changing.
I just wanna talk to you about two projects that I've shot over time. One of them is right off my front porch of my house where I live in Kachemak Bay in Alaska. These are all views either on my front porch or very close to it. These are all shot over a period of years. You'll notice that the looks are sometimes similar, but sometimes completely different. I like to set up my camera and then return to the same location month after month, year after year. Sometimes I'm looking for specific conditions, and that will be our second project.
But these are all photographs that are shot at different times of the year, different times of the day with different contrast, different lighting conditions, and you'll notice, boy, they're completely different in some cases. Like here's a moonlight shot in August and here's a winter sunrise shot pointing across Kachemak Bay with only about 30 degrees difference in the shot angle, but look at the tremendous difference in what you get in terms of a photograph. If you like a general composition but you don't like the specific look, like the contrast or lighting, well, by golly, return to it and work that composition over time.
Here's some other images shot at different times of the year. The image on the right-hand side is with the sandhill cranes that arrive in early spring, like around April eighth or April ninth, down on the shore of Kachemak Bay, and this is just a few hundred feet from my house. This is Sadie Peak, also shot from my porch. Totally different conditions. Here are two different sunrises shot at two different times of the winter. This is an early winter shot on the left-hand side, and then a later winter shot on the right-hand side. Notice similar but different in many ways.
Working a composition over time, having that patience to do that and come back to the location again and again pays off huge dividends. The project I wanna show you now is one of my portfolio images. This is my turn, turn, turn image. This particular project took me over six months to shoot. My goal was to create a composition for the Shorebird Festival, and this was about three years ago, so I actually started shooting about December and I finally got the photograph that I wanted at the beginning of June or the end of May. I'm just gonna show you a few of the photographs and then we'll look at the final one.
This is an example of working a composition over time, coming back to the same location, then ultimately spending almost six hours shooting on the final day. Notice that we have the same mountains in the background, slightly different compositions, trying to catch the wave exactly the way I wanted it. Then this is the final photograph that I ended up with. This is after shooting 400 photographs on the final day. The reason why it took so long for this particular one was I was waiting for a sky that was nice and clear. I was looking for backlit water.
I wanted waves to hit an offshore wind that were holding the waves up so I'd end up with nice spray. I wanted to have some birds in the image and I wanted clouds in the background. It literally took me six months to wait for this perfect day, and then shooting 400 images to get just the image that I wanted to. So it's really worthwhile taking an image and shooting it over time and finally getting exactly what you want. It's a great technique and it requires showing up and just having patience.
In this course, photographer and educator Taz Tally details four pillars of effective, impactful composition: simplicity, asymmetry, eye lines, and point of view. Through example images and helpful graphics, the course discusses not only the things you can do to enhance composition when you're shooting, but also improvements you can make using imaging software such as Lightroom.
Throughout the course, Taz issues challenges to help you practice what you've learned. The course concludes with a look at how to critique—and thereby improve— your work.
- Composing for simplicity
- Employing asymmetry or an interesting point of view
- Including eye lines
- Composing in camera
- Cropping for improved compositions
- Enhancing images in Lightroom
- Critiquing your own work