Take it yourself
Use light, shadow, graphic lines and shapes to create inspiring minimalist landscapes
Instead of the wide-angle lens you would usually choose for landscape photography, use a telephoto (70-200mm) on a tripod. The tripod is not only for stability but also slows you down, forcing you to think about composition. When changing lenses in the desert, know that sand will get inside the camera body no matter what. Ensure that your camera is switched off, as the sensor will be even more static when the camera is on.
Keep the ISO low (100 to 200 should allow enough sensitivity). With a longer lens, the depth of field will be shallow, so shoot with smaller apertures (f/8 or above) to get sufficient sharpness throughout your image. If you’re photographing in harsh light, keep an eye on the exposure (check the histogram) as the camera tends to underexpose brightly lit sand and it’s easy to lose detail in the shadows.
Simplify your scene by using a telephoto lens and zooming in, cropping out anything distracting or unnecessary. Remove all unimportant elements and leave the bare bones of what is necessary to convey an idea or emotion. At the core of a great minimalistic image is excellent, well-planned composition.
Keep in mind negative space (the area between and around objects) and other classic rules of composition. See Know Your Stuff on the next page.
Look out for interesting elements like wind-blown sand catching the sunlight over the edge of a dune, or a single object of interest in a sea of repetitive lines. Place this element in a prominent position in the frame according to the rules of composition.
Shoot early in the morning or late afternoon. The angle of light will highlight the edges of dunes, creating a feeling of depth. The contrast between light and shadow flowing over the dunes creates drama and interest.
STARTER TIP Resist the instinct to go wide-angle when faced with an expansive landscape, or your image could end up looking very busy. Focus on segments of the scene.
AMATEUR TIP Find leading lines that feed the viewer’s eye towards your main subject/focal point.
PRO TIP Bracket up and down, by changing the shutter speed, to get the correct ‘feeling’ for your image. For example, it could look better to underexpose the shadows, leaving only the brightest parts of the image correctly exposed (as in Paul’s photograph).