Tips on Composition From a Photographer Who Worked With Ansel Adams

Landscape photography is one of the most accessible genres in photography. And, because of this, it's a great area to practice your compositional skills.

Indeed, it's easy to get started in landscape composition due to the static nature of the subject, but it's extremely difficult to master. Even the great photographers are constantly looking to improve and evolve — it's a large part of what makes them great. But, we all have to start somewhere, and no better place than this video from Marc Silber of Advancing Your Photography. He sat down with Huntington Witherill, a California-based nature photographer and educator who has worked with some of the greats, including Al Weber and the aforementioned Ansel Adams.

I particularly like Witherill's quote from Edward Weston, where he referred to composition as "...being the strongest way of seeing." It's a great summation of such a difficult-to-explain concept. On its surface — using the textbook definition of composition — it seems to be straightforward enough, but what really makes a good composition? It can be quite subjective, but there are some rules and guidelines that can be followed in order to create a strong image. In saying that, some of the greatest photography is created when those rules and guidelines are broken. The important thing is to learn how to look deeper into your work. 

Did you learn anything valuable from the interview?

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3 Comments

Douglas Goodhill's picture

What a waste of time - it seems this guy doesn't even know the rule of thirds!
Oh - it's not April first? My real comment is thank you for presenting a mature and experienced review of composition as used by photographers. I did skip a bit as I was agreeing with the ideas, and the only thing I would add is to study successful photographers work and try to understand what makes their composition work - or as Weston implies, what amplifies the artists understanding of the subject.

BubbA Gumphy's picture

The rule of thirds? Oh, wait - I know that one. If you create a poorly composed image after the third shot of Spirytus everything looks better.

Ivan Konar's picture

Very true at all. I am a landscape photographer for about 50 years, and composition always it is in one word the soul of an image...