Photography Critiques

Photo critique: Yosemite

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This photo was submitted by Christy Tebsherani. This photo is bold and dramatic, with a lot of immediate impact. Overall I like the way you handled the composition. There’s a lot of depth conveyed by the perspective of the receding mountains, and I like how the focal point resolves at Half Dome.

Usually, grand scenic landscape photos like this look their best when photographed at sunrise or sunset, or with dramatic weather conditions. Notice how the trees in the forest in the middle of the picture appear as an almost solid field of green. This is because the light is coming from behind the camera position, resulting in front lighting on the scene. Front light is the least attractive kind of light for most landscapes, because you can’t see any shadows. (The shadowed sides of the trees and mountains are on the hidden side of the objects, facing away from the camera.)

In most all types of photography, the quality of light is the most important factor in creating a superior image vs. one that’s just ho-hum. There’s no such thing as “bad light”, but you always need to match the light with the subject matter to produce the best results. For wide landscape images, side lighting reveals a lot more depth in the scene. For this reason, most nature and landscape photographers don’t make photographs of landscapes during the middle of the day, because the light is harsh and unflattering on the land. In nature photography, you’re working with natural light, and the time of day makes all the difference in producing a winning photograph.

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