Take it your­self

Use light, shadow, graphic lines and shapes to cre­ate in­spir­ing min­i­mal­ist land­scapes

Getaway (South Africa) - - PHOTOGRAPHY -


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).

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