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Composing Your Outdoor Photos

Posted by Eli Boschetto at Feb 04, 2012 10:20 AM |

washington trails "snapshot" article on photo composition. tips and tricks for identifying and framing outdoor and nature photos. by dave schiefelbein.

Who hasn't flipped through any number of books or magazines admiring the photographs contained within? Images of far-off places, beautiful scenery and nature in all her glory inspire and excite us. As hikers and backpackers, we have a special appreciation for this kind of imagery, as it inspires and motivates us. It beckons us. Until finally, we're reaching for our maps and guidebooks, uttering, "I have to see that."

Compelling outdoor and nature photography is an art. It takes a keen eye, mixed in with creativity and awareness—and just a little luck. But it is not an art form limited to just a few people, splashed across expensive books and glossy magazines to make us all envious. It's an art form that practically anyone can achieve to some success by just following a handful of simple guidelines—and not running out to buy the most expensive cameras, lenses and accessories on the market.

This was the inspiration for creating Washington Trails new column, Snapshot. I wanted to offer all of my fellow photographers—from aspiring novice, to the most seasoned pro—a place to get simple, easy-to-understand tips, tricks and guidelines to help them improve their photography—whether shooting with a pocket camera or a full DSLR. Most importantly, I wanted it to be friendly and encouraging.

In order to do this, I turned to several of Washington Trails' regular photo contributors, known for their outstanding work. Some are pros, some aren't, but all know how to put the magic into their photography—and are happy to share it with the rest of us. After all, the equipment only captures the photo. It's the photographer that creates the photo. And it's not rocket science.

So check out the introductory Snapshot column on Composition, written by professional photographer Dave Schiefelbein. For this all-important element of any photography, Dave offers a handful of tips and suggestions, sure to assist and inspire, and help transform flat, boring pictures into dynamic, storytelling photographs. You're sure to notice a difference in your photography the next time you head up the trail with camera in tow.

Stay tuned to Snapshot in future issues of Washington Trails, where we'll cover topics such as veiling, photo filters, using a tripod, and smartphone photo apps. And if you're interested in contributing photography to Washington Trails, send an email to