3 tips for making your landscape photography more compelling

3 tips for making your landscape photography more compelling

We’ve invited a guest author—local professional photographer Todd Shapera—to help give us tips on improving our nature photography. If you like what you see, join us for his upcoming talk: Vanishing Landscapes, on September 5.

Sunrise On Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula (January 2019)

Paint your landscapes with magical light.

  • I’m partial to dawn, especially when morning mist and fog help accent the scene. To capture this beach on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, we trekked through the rainforest before sunrise, using headlamps to light our path, and arrived at the beach before the sun rose over the horizon.
  • Look for leading lines. The waves coursing into the horizon draw the viewer into the scene and provide a light/dark balance in the composition
  • Link your photography to the urgent global conversation on global warming and climate change. We didn’t set out to photograph sunrise, but rather had come to the beach to assist a morning patrol that protects and releases hatchling turtles. Following this morning, we posted several photos of the vulnerable hatchlings on social media and talked about Osa Conservation’s program in our caption.
Summit, Zermatt, Switzerland (March 2019)

Work with leading lines.

  • Half the photography challenge is putting yourself in the right place. To capture this scene, I set out in the Italian Alpine town of Cervina, traveled up the mountain on three gondolas, skied across the windy summit following signs for the international border, and skied down a glacier to the base of this new tram, high above Zermatt. The highest cable car in Europe, at 3,883 meters, arrives at a rock precipice on the summit with jaw-dropping views.
  • The leading lines from the cable shooting out from the top of the frame and plunging into the valley add depth to the image. Without them, the dramatic mountain scene would appear flatter and less dramatic.
Morning In The Rockefeller Preserve  (May 2018)

Think global, but photograph local.

  • I’m all for following your wanderlust, but begin your journey, follow your passion, and develop your art at home. Teatown is a gem with unlimited possibilities. Similarly, my backyard is the Rockefeller Preserve. Last year, I began a project to document mornings in one corner of the Preserve during the four seasons.
  • Use unplanned moments to your advantage. This alluring carriage road would have a different aesthetic without my dog, Rico. But, it was his morning walk, too. While I was setting up this shot, he wanted to get going.  When he ran up the path, I photographed with him on the trail.
  • The foreground can add depth. When compared to other photos of this scene, I felt Rico added helpful perspective, and seemed to become part of the leading line drawing the viewer into the scene.
  • Develop a meaningful personal project. All three photos fit into my long term personal project, Vanishing Landscapes — a portfolio of fragile, global locations, generally high in biodiversity, from Uganda to the Yukon. The sunrise beach photo on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is a region that National Geographic regards as having “the most intense biodiversity on the planet.” In the second photo on the Italian-Swiss border of the Alps, glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, even as they appear vast in mid-winter. In the third photo, The Rockefeller Preserve is a protected oasis in the heart of Westchester, New York urban sprawl – a lower Hudson Valley region where farmland and open spaces have disappeared.

Pocantico Hills resident Todd Shapera has photographed in over 57 countries for leading publications and foundations – from The Financial Times of London to U.S. AID – documenting education, agriculture, health and conservation.

In a profile, Professional Photographer magazine wrote: “Todd Shapera is driven by a passion to capture the inner beauty and resilience of individuals just about everywhere on earth. He is linking disparate worlds through photography.”

Upcoming program

Vanishing Landscapes with Todd Shapera

September 5,  7pm – 8:30pm

Join professional photographer Todd Shapera for his presentation, Vanishing Landscapes, which will feature endangered, remote regions from the Yangtze to the Yukon. He’ll also share photography close to home and far away – profiling Cuban farmers, conservation in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, and a four-season project in the Rockefeller Preserve.