DENVER (KDVR) — A famed, award-winning outdoor photographer from Colorado, John Fielder, died over the weekend after a battle with cancer.
Fielder, 73, took hundreds of thousands of photos during his career, documenting quite literally each of Colorado’s 104,984 square miles, according to a press release from History Colorado.
He was a guest on FOX31 and Channel 2 many times in past years, leaving tips for others interested in capturing the beauty of Colorado in a photo.
Here are some of Fielder’s secrets to landscape photography.
The golden hour
Fielder said outdoor photographers make a living one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset, when shadows are broad, to add depth to an image.
“Photographers do not sleep in,” Fielder said. “Pushing the saturation slider to the right in Lightroom to edit your photos is not the same as getting up at 5:30 a.m.”
He said the warm light as the sun rises and sets is pleasing to the eye.
Fielder said it’s essential to be mindful of where the horizon lies in a photograph, as he does not want the viewer to debate what part of the photo is the focus. He said never to let the horizon be the center of the photo.
“Too much negative space in the blue distracts the eye from the essence of the photo, which would be something interesting in the landscape,” he said.
Though you might have a main character in a photo, Fielder said that the main subject should not be in the center of the photo.
“The rule of thirds, everybody has heard of that. It makes what we call asymmetrical design.”
Humans have two eyes that perceive distance from front to back, but the camera just has one. Fielder said it’s important to emulate a three-dimensional view with a two-dimensional process to create a sense of distance.
“We do it by getting very close to flowers in the foreground, making them look bigger than they really are in relation to what’s in the background,” Fielder said.
Bells, buttons and whistles
Fielder said when it comes to settings on a camera, there are a few mechanical things to think about.
Fielder said exposure mode varies depending if you want quick shutter speeds to freeze the action of wildlife running across the scene or great depth of focus in landscape photos.
ISO is how much grain or pixelization is in the photo. Fielder said in landscape photos, it is typically best to have a low ISO to have less grain in neutral areas like skies.
White balance is the camera deciding what the color of light is. Fielder said he typically recommends leaving it on auto white balance, and if you want to change colors, do that in post-processing.
“People don’t realize that good digital photography is half taking the picture in the first place with the camera, and half fixing it because the sensors don’t see the way the eyes do,” he said.
Fielder said editing tricks, like lightening shadows or darkening highlights, can make a photo extraordinary. His tip: Don’t exaggerate editing — edit the photo to the way the eye sees.