Outdoor Photography | Ansel Adams Technique

Photography Tips from Ansel Adams

Nature Photography

Learn how to take better pictures by using photography techniques employed by the legendary Ansel Adams. We have all seen Ansel Adams photography and may even own a print or two. Here are a few photography tip to keep in mind when trying to channel your inner Adams.

Photography Composition

Photography Composition the Ansel Adams way. 

1)  First off remember… “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

2)  Pay attention to the sky. If you are working with a cloudless dull blue sky don’t simply throw in the towel.  Seek out different perspectives that cut the amount of horizon or zoom in and seek to capture details in what’s small.  On the flip side, if the sky is alive with mounds of fluffy clouds or bursting with a storm, show the drama above and add complexity to your photo.

3)  Think about what’s right in front of you.  Create a sense of depth by showing what’s in the foreground.   For example are there boulders near that can help give a mountain peak scale?  Or is there a log near a lakeshore that can add depth to the water and surrounding mountains?

4)  Pay attention to light. Yes the “Golden Hour” which is just after sunrise and before sunset is ideal for photography.  However, you can still take photographs during other periods of the day.  Look for interaction between light and shadow; look for striking opposites in color or how light plays off of a pattern.

5)  Shoot the Moon.  Many of Ansel Adam’s most famous pictures such as Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico incorporate the moon.  Adding the moon to your images allows for a visual point of reference that adds a whimsical depth to your composition.   Often times when shooting the moon it looks like a little white blob.  This is caused by over exposing.  The best way to get perfect moon shots is practice with brackets.  Use your shutter speed to control the exposure.

6)  There is no need to take 50 images from the same spot; Adams himself would often take two, the original and a backup in case of something going awry.  Taking the same image over and over again (without changing any settings) is a waste of time when you can take many photos by finding different places to stand with different perspectives.

7)  Take notes!  Document your thoughts and what you are trying to accomplish with the photograph and review settings against results.  You don’t have to write a book, but as Ansel said “Notebook. No photographer should be without one!”