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5 Things You Need To Know About Dynamic Photography Landscapes Today

Mark Jansen

Mark Jansen

Owner / Operator at Jansen Photo Expeditions
Mark’s interest in photography and love for landscapes constantly draws him into some amazing places. He researches his subjects extensively, sometimes making many trips to selected areas waiting for the perfect light, an interesting approach to the subject, and just the right moment.His goal of "freezing time for others to enjoy" is what drives him to create his visions.

Mark has a passion for landscape and classic creative aviation photography as well as providing large scale commercial installations of his fine art photographic murals and print works throughout California.

He has over 25 years of professional fine art and photographic experience. 

He works with both small and large corporate businesses in helping them project a powerful impact through his images. Mark offers photographic workshops in various U.S. and International locations.

Mark is an expert and personable instructor, expedition leader & award winning, visionary photographer. 

He is also a photography educator with the "Manfrotto School of Excellence" online educational network. 

"This is gorgeous work!", says Christopher Robinson, editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine.
Mark Jansen

Being primarily a landscape photographer, I am always trying to push my images to the next level of attention to create dynamic photography landscapes. Like most, I have this thought in the back of my mind anytime I head out for a shoot, hoping for some magic. Here’s my photographic process.

We all spend some time flipping through photography magazines, or scanning through social media photographs until one stops us in our tracks. After awhile, you’ll notice that a few of these images have common compositions that tend to pull your eye in and hold it for a moment. You’ll also notice certain patterns and visual references begin to appear. These images always seem to appear whimsical and dynamic. That’s just the beginning of creating a dynamic photography landscape.

"Ancient One" by Mark Jansen shows a great example of dynamic landscape photography

“Ancient One” – On our Eastern Sierra Photo Workshop © Mark Jansen

What makes a dynamic photograph?

Elements of many of my own personal photographs, landscape or otherwise, involve some sort of what I call a forced perspective element. I’ve been seeking this for years and its become my personal style as the situation presents itself. I’m always a seeker of leading lines, movement, and an interesting perspective with extremly strong foregrounds. This type of composition is hopefully paired with interesting mid-ground and backgrounds as well.

This along with great light is a great recipe for a dynamic landscape photograph when it all comes together. This is not always possible and it takes time and experience to recognize and seek these elements, whether out on my own or teaching one of our landscape photography workshops. When a perfect storm comes together with nature and light, it’s an experience that stays with me always.

Its important to remember, not all dynamic photographs need all of these elements to be successful. Landscape photography is a fine balance between understanding the pulse of nature and the technical and creative parts of our brains and a soild understanding of the photographic process.

The more you practice and the more you surround yourself with mentors or instructors in the field, the more you’ll be able help you recognize these factors and prepare youself when nature’s elements come together for something really great! The photographs here are a few of my own personal landscape photographs showing one or more of these dynamic elements employed when magic moments presented themselves.

Interesting Perspectives

So many landscape photographers tend to shoot from the line of site standing position. I’ve learned over the years that the lower I went, the more dynamic my images became. I’m always telling my landscape photography students to get low!

by Mark Jansen shows a great example of dynamic landscape photographyMake certain your tripod’s center column can be removed in order to spread their tripods legs out and get down to the ground. Wider lenses are also great in forced perspectives. Conversely, hiking up high and shooting down opens up a whole new world as well! But for the most part, I tend to go for the low angle approach using my super wide lens.

 

Converging or Leading Lines

by Mark Jansen shows a great example of dynamic landscape photographyOne of the best ways to draw attention into your landscape photograph is to use converging or leading lines.

Leading lines create the illusion of depth. Photos with rivers, piers, or roads make successful subjects and are always the simplest way to get started in creating a dynamic landscape photograph. Its difficult for our eyes to resist converging or leading lines.

Foreground Elements


Great dynamic images almost always have strong foreground elements. They will also have many complimentary leading mid ground elements as well as colorful or cloudy skies. Think about your classic sunrise or sunset photograph. The ones we always see on social media. Certainly they’re colorful. Golden sunset light is beautiful on its own. But there is nothing to lock in the viewer’s eyes and your attention to these photographs leaves quickly.

Good dynamic photographs require what I call an eye locking feature. That would be a interesting stone, branch, leading line or contrasty formation in the foreground. This could also include repeated elements such as drifting sand ruffles. This will draw your eye into the composition. Building a compelling composition is critical.

Interesting Background Elements

When I first approach any landscape, I’m first drawn to it by the obvious expansive beauty. That’s why I teach photography workshops in places like Yosemite Valley, Iceland, Big Sur, Eastern Sierra, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

All of these places have great dramatic beauty and provide dynamic backgrounds. When I first arrive at any of these locations, I seek strong foreground features knowing these amazing backgrounds never fail to stand on their own. I then move my vision deeper into the frame, adding or subtracting elements as I go. I always seek simplicity in my own style of landscape photography. Once Ive locked in my foreground element to complement my background, I feel I’m ready to take the shot.

Now the most difficult part comes. That would be waiting for the light. This would be during what is commonly know as the golden hours of pre-dawn or just as the sunsets. This is the time the many newcomers to landscape photography fail, by not waiting for the light to completely fade at dusk or missing the predawn light. This is the time clouds will being to light in reddish gold and bluish hues depending on location and time of year. We have no control of this of course, but we always hope for the best!

Califorina Central Coast “Big Sur Arch” ©MarkJansenPhotography.com

Califorina Central Coast “Big Sur Arch” ©MarkJansenPhotography.com

Motion


Motion blur is a classic tool for creating a dynamic landscape photograph. There are many ways to use this technique. Of course you can use slow exposures, as well as high shutter speeds. Each can provide striking effects. The classic effect is misty water flows in streams or tidal pools as water wraps around solid objects such as ice and stones. This technique is also great for moving clouds using neutral density filters of various stops of light from 3 to 10 stops.

 

Iceland "Ice Storm" ©MarkJansenPhotography.com

So when it comes to creating one of those dynamic landscape photographs you see now and then, it’s not that simple. But with a little practice and awareness of your landscape environment you can begin to create more stunning and dynamic photographs.

If you would like help in creating dynamic landscape photography and learning about these concepts, join us on one of our private or group multi-day photography workshops.

 

All the best,
Mark Jansen
JansenPhotoExpeditions.com
www.MarkJansenPhotography.com

 

 

 

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