Photographer and YouTuber Mark Denny has created an on-location landscape workflow that allows him to repeatedly create the best images when shooting. In this 14-minute video, he breaks down his five easy-to-remember steps that you can replicate.
Denny explained that when he first started shooting landscapes, he would spend a lot of time researching techniques with the goal of improving his compositions. He believed that if he could learn everything there was to know about creating great compositions, it would be the magic key he was looking for to increase the quality of his images. He said that he became obsessed with learning everything he could about compositions, spending a large amount of time-consuming content from various sources.
But when it actually came time to go out and apply that knowledge in the field, he would freeze. He would forget everything he learned and couldn’t get out of his own way. He spent too much time taking in a lot of information and very little of that time applying it to real-world situations.
“Simply knowing is half the battle,” he says. “But being able to accurately and effectively apply these techniques in real-world scenarios… is what matters most.”
To help himself, and now you, Denny created five easy to remember steps that he references every time he goes out to shoot: The Reason, The Elements, The Distractions, The Light, and The Shapes.
The first step is determining the reason for going out on location. What are you trying to capture? What is the goal? Determining the reason for going out ahead of time is critical to building your composition.
The second step is to ask yourself, “what are the supporting elements?” In short, what are the graphical elements that drives viewers towards your reason for taking the photo to begin with.
The third step is to identify the distractions. Look for things that could compete for the viewers’ attention.
The fourth step is to look for contrasting light that can add interest to your image and once again add to the reason you are taking a photo to begin with. If there is a way to effectively implement light into your image, Denny encourages you to use it.
Finally, the last step is taking advantage of the shapes in nature, specifically triangles. Denny says triangles create symmetry and balance, so using natural occurrences of shapes to enhance your image can help make it better.
Denny says that using these five steps while you’re out in the field will make your images more focused and, ultimately, better. The best part is that these aren’t overly complicated rules that you will find yourself struggling to remember the next time you’re out shooting.