The Complete Outdoor Image:
1. Superb Lighting
2. Dynamic Composition
3. Engaging Subject Matter

For any of you that have taken a workshop from me, or attended a seminar, you know that I have an internal formula for a "complete" image. You can have almost all of the above, but it you don't have it all to some legitimate extent, you don't have that complete, five-star image.

So--what's the most important of the three? It's a tough battle, but I believe superb light is THE head honcho of these three ingredients. Even with all the amazing technology we have at our fingertips these days, there is one thing you cannot do, and that is replicate Mother Nature. You cannot create (post capture) superb light. You may be able to enhance it or moderate it, but you cannot create it. Thus, the importance of being in the right place, at the right time and understanding how to put it all together to create an image that has meaning and impact.

On this particular morning during the Telluride Photo Festival, the skies were mundane, but the early sidelight was perfect for this classic Americana scene. This view represents a smidgeon of the nearly 17,000 acres comprising Ralph Lauren's Double RL Ranch.

The layered nature of this scene, with the FG hay fields, MG foothills, and BG mountain peaks, made it a perfect candidate for a long lens landscape. With long lens landscapes, very subtle camera movements can make all the difference in getting that composition that feels just right. Pay extra care to the edges of your frame, making sure nothing feels improperly balanced or excessively clipped. On clear days such as this, finding an angle to the sun which allows you to utilize your polarizer and deepen the sky also makes for a much stronger image.

We're transitioning to winter here in UT this weekend. Can't wait for that snow to fly!

Canon 5D MkII, 70-200 2.8 IS II, Singh Ray Filters LB Warming Polarizer, 3-stop Hard Step Grad ND, Clikelite Pro Elite backpack

Discover more inspiring photos like this one.

Download the FREE 500px app Open in app