From my perspective, several factors are important. The first is scale. Scale in this case refers to the physical distance encompassed in the image. The landscape image below spans 5.75 miles in length, Cave Creek Canyon south to Sulphur Canyon, and 4000' in height, the floor of the San Simon valley to the top of the 8000' Portal Peak. Since most cameras do not capture scale without forcing the subject into the background my landscape images require construction in a post production process. A good image editor is required to piece together segments of the landscape taken closeup into a final product that recreates what I see with my eye, is pleasing to view, and encompasses the whole scene. Since I shoot hand held with an inexpensive point and shoot camera this takes composing the final image in my mind and then collecting the individual elements for later construction.
The second factor is lighting. Early morning just at sunrise is always the most productive time to capture images of the eastern flanks of the Chiricahua mountains. The long light of the rising sun creates a series of colors, some lasting only a moment, across the flank of the mountains. Starting in the reds the colors move in shorter and shorter wavelengths through the blues until the reflected colors begin to wash out.
The third is color. This is of course related to the lighting. But in some cases, especially when clouds are present over the mountains and the shadows stark a presentation in black and white is more striking and evokes stronger emotions so I choose to desaturate the image after increasing contrast to to further enhance the elements of light and shadow.
Finally depth. A number of tools are available to enhance depth in a photograph and perhaps the most common is depth of field. I have chased after techniques that enhance depth in 2 dimensional images to create a more realistic 3 dimensional image in the belief that good depth enhances the viewers experience. The image below shows good depth with dark clouds creating shadow over the ridges in the background while the foreground ridge line is complete sunlight. This contrast in shadow naturally enhances the appearance of depth in the image making the almost 6 miles of ridge line stand out and away from the shadowed background. This difference in shadowing was the result of the partial cloud cover present at that time and in combination with an old photographic technique developed in Germany in the 1930's, further enhances the depth. Unsharp masking creates an apparent increase in resolution and is a useful tool for creating an image with increased depth helping the foreground ridge line jump out of the image.
These are all easy to apply tools that anyone can implement to create images that capture the imagination and convey the emotions generated when viewing the scene.
|Almost perfect, click on the image to see a larger version or follow this link.|
More work with the original panoramic image data set has resulted in this new image. Spanning further south and north, both Portal Peak and Darnell Peak are visible and the scene shifts from just Portal Peak to the whole east flank of the Chiricahua mountains.