2.3. WHAT MAKES A COMPELLING NATURE PHOTOGRAPH?

A good nature photograph is both visually appealing and intellectually stimulating. You must engage the viewer. One way to do this is by including variety within the frame (you learn more about this in Chapter 4). Of course, nature offers infinite variety, and often the challenge is to make sense of the visual chaos.

You will encounter many situations where you sense there's a good photo "somewhere in there" but can't quite make it out. Take the time to find it; don't just grab a couple of half-hearted shots and walk away, and don't assume that the most obvious picture is the best one. Your most successful photos will come from spending quality time at a location and continuing to delve deeper into the subject matter.

So how do you know if a subject or scene is even worth the trouble of delving deeper? Surely, there are times when the situation may not be worth the effort. These criteria can help:

  • Strong match between the subject and your intention for the picture

  • Appropriate light for the subject and subject matter

  • Many possible compositions

  • Equipment available to make the shots you've previsualized

  • Anticipation of what might happen next that would affect the appearance of the scene

If these criteria aren't met to your satisfaction, it might be best to move on to another location.

As you observe (and photograph) a scene, look for triggers to tip you off. If you find part of the scene has especially nice light, concentrate on that for ...

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