Use Atmosphere to Simplify Your Images

Landscape photographs are often otherworldly, filled with dazzling colors and light. In his latest video, photographer Thomas Heaton demonstrates how to make the most of atmospheric conditions devoid of light to create beautiful, simple images.  

While hiking in northwest Scotland in the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve, Heaton battles biting midges and rainy conditions in search of a good composition. He discovers a striking pine tree and gets to work, using the mist and fog to capture a moody, atmospheric image.

I'll be honest and say that too often, I get caught up in thinking that I need a burning sunrise or sunset to create a portfolio-caliber photograph. However, as Heaton demonstrates, you don't necessarily need light on your scene to put together a fantastic image. By taking advantage of what some may consider less than ideal landscape photography conditions, Heaton is able to simplify his scene and put all of the focus on his main subject, coming away with a great shot. I'm going to use this video as a challenge to myself to move out of my comfort zone and start creating atmospheric, less cluttered images. 

What's your landscape photography style? Do you prefer vivid or stark scenes? Let me know in the comments below.

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Elen Jones's picture

Hey! I’m new to here! I really like dark and moody images but I think they end up being too dark! Any tips on improving that?

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Hi Elen - thanks for reading and commenting! I'm certainly not an expert on moody images but in my opinion you don't want to create something dark just for the sake of it. Rather, you want to let the elements dictate the look and feel of the shot. As far as post goes, I think using selective adjustments including dodge and burn to accentuate your subject/lead the viewer's eye through a scene with light is the way to go. How subtle or stylized you want to take the edit is of course personal preference. Creating mood through a concrete vision both in the field and in post will take you far! Don't just darken the image as a global adjustment - use the presence and absence of light to create the mood.

Celso Mollo's picture

what is the website of the documentary crew he talks about in the end of the video? I can't find it