Getting Creative with Composition: Big Sunset, Small View

By Kerry Drager

This sunset reflection photo is a favorite of mine, and it’s led a charmed life ūüôā … First, it was published in one of the books that I co-authored a couple of years ago — The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography. Currently, it’s on display in the gallery of the local Cambria Center for the Arts.


Before moving to California’s Central Coast (Cambria)¬†last year, our country pond was a favorite go-to spot of mine for¬† sunset photography. I often armed myself with a telephoto zoom lens, which is ideal for zeroing in tight on distant things — in this case, the colors, reeds and grasses.

As always for stationary scenes, I used a tripod for camera steadiness and for careful composing. And to accurately capture the colors, I set the White Balance for Direct Sunlight (my default setting for natural light from dawn to dusk).

Tech Stuff: f/13 @ 1/8th second. ISO 400. 70-300mm zoom lens set at 220mm. Tripod with cable release.


Creative Close-ups: Abstract Abalone Shell Design!

by Kerry Drager

Moving in super close on a subject can be very cool and very colorful … and very intriguing, too!

I found this excellent abalone shell at a coastal shop and quickly purchased it. At home, I placed the shell on a deck railing — with soft natural light from shade. And, with my DSLR camera and a macro lens, I photographed the shell’s abstract pattern of intricate details and bold colors.


Above photo: Abalone Shell Design … Nikon D4 (full-frame DSLR).¬†f/22 @ 1/8th second. 100 ISO. 105mm macro lens.

Although the shell was mostly flat, there was still a curve to it, and with extreme close-ups, even a slight amount of depth is a factor! As a result, I chose the small aperture (f/22) in order to produce as much depth-of-field (front-to-back sharpness) as possible. As always with stationary scenes, I used a tripod in order to obtain maximum image quality and also to fine-tune the composition in order to get it just the way I wanted it (so no post-cropping needed).

Below Photo: Here’s a quick snapshot¬†that shows¬†the overall scene. After shooting this, I used a macro lens to fill the frame with the colorful design.


Like what you see? Check out Kerry’s website:¬†¬†¬†… Also see his classes and workshops…