In today’s landscape photography photo tip, we will further our investigation into getting better sunset photography. We’ve discussed how to meter the sky to establish our starting exposure, and then we discussed how to tweak the exposure to get more intense colors… Now let’s talk about composition.
In previous articles, I’ve discussed making something in your photo the “star”. This is a very important concept, so let’s revisit it.
In talking, if you were to SHOUT EVERYTHING YOU SAID – it wouldn’t be long before people would start to avoid you – like the plague.
Aside from being loud and irritating, there are no highs or lows in your voice. People can’t tell what is important and what isn’t.
It’s the voice fluxuations and intonations that make our speech interesting! It would be exhausting to listen to someone that shouts all the time.
I remember an old television ad campaign with the tag line “If you want to get someone’s attention, just whisper”. Of course the line was being whispered by a stunning looking lady which didn’t hurt – but it was the whisper that attracted attention.
At a time when all the ads featured yelling pitchmen, this whisper quickly became a “star” and was immensely successful. Why? It was different and stood out.
BTW – I wish all these infomercial pitchmen would learn to trust their soundmen a bit more – I really hate being yelled at. I would probably buy more of their products if I could concentrate on the goods – rather than wondering if this guy is going to have a stroke. Someone needs to tell them that if their voice needs to be louder, people can turn up the volume on their televisions!
Rant over – back to photography…
Visually, making something the “star” is just as important – if not more so – than verbally.
We’ve meandered around a bit, but let’s bring this back to our sunset photography. You need to make something in your sunset photo the “star”! In our previous discussion of horizons – I said that your horizon shouldn’t be dead center of the frame. It evenly splits the viewer’s attention between the sky and the ground and doesn’t give their eye anything to settle on.
Something in that scene made you want to capture that image. What was it? If it was the sky, make the sky about two-thirds of the photo! If it was the ground, do the opposite. This is the beginning step of our star making.
Once you’ve determined which overall area to accent, find a star in THAT AREA to really emphasize.
The fact that it is pretty isn’t enough to create an award winning photo.
Check out the sunset photos of the top pros… Their star is rarely the amazing colors bouncing off the bottoms of the clouds and reflecting in the water! The colors are still there, but they are the backdrop to the star, not the star itself.
Look closely and you will see the silhouette of a person, or some palm trees or even a seagull flying by. There is virtually ALWAYS something that the photo is about – other than the pretty colors. It may be only a visual whisper, but it’s there and it is what separates the image from just another sunset into something publishable.
Today’s landscape photography photo tip is to make something in your sunset photography a star! Spend a bit of time looking at sunset photos that you like and identify the “star”. Then, practice adding a star to all of your photos!