John Fielder’s Top 5 Tips for Outdoor Photographers

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John Fielder shows us how to take the perfect picture. Find out how you can attend some of his workshops.

  1. Magic Hours: Photograph the “magic hours,” one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. The color of light is yellow, orange, even red and this “warms” the landscape to increase color saturation. Shadows are broad and this adds “depth” to your scene.


  1. Where to Put the Horizon: In general, do not design the horizon (skyline) in the middle of your scene. Use the “rule of thirds” by either composing 1/3 sky above 2/3 landscape, or vice versa. By doing this you tell the viewer what is the most visually important part of the scene.


  1. Dominant Subjects: Do not put single conspicuous things, like grandmother or a lone tree, in the middle of your horizontal scene. As with horizons, compose asymmetrically by putting subjects towards the left or right, or top or bottom. Think “rule of thirds.” By doing this, you create “artistic tension,” which draws the viewer’s eye from one place to another in your photograph.


  1. Create Depth in Your Scene: In addition to shadows, there are two other ways to make a 3-dimensional photograph and create artistic tension. “Lead-in” lines draw the viewer’s eye from the foreground into the background. Think roads, trails, creeks, and railroad tracks. Or get very close to your subject matter in order to make it look larger than it really is in relation to what’s in the background. This is called “extreme depth of field.”


  1. Bells, Buttons, and Whistles: Do not be overwhelmed by all of the buttons on the outside of your camera, nor by all of the Menu items. Focus on the basics:


  1. Set the Exposure Mode Dial to P, A, or T depending upon the type of photography you are doing. I do not recommend manual (M) mode since it takes too much time to rotate two dials instead of one to achieve the desired combination of shutter speed and f-stop.
  2. Set your ISO to the lowest number, usually 100, in order to have less “pixelization” in the image.
  3. Setting the White Balance to “Auto” or AWB. “Fix” colors in post-processing.
  4. Knowing how to use the +/- button to lighten or darken your scene as needed. Similarly, learn how to automatically “bracket” your exposures using the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) menu item.


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