Minimalist and Intimate Photography

October 8th 2023

Landscape photography doesn’t always have to be all about photographing grand scenes! Don’t get me wrong, I love to capture the ultra wide angle scenes with my Canon EF 11-24mm or my EF 24-70mm lenses but I also think that a lot of people are missing some lovely subjects simply by not being open eyed about Minimalist and Intimate Photography in general. For that genre of photography, you will be required to use a longer focal length. One tool that must not be left at home when I wish to photograph Minimalist and Intimate images is my trusty Canon EF 100-400mm lens.

Those longer focal lenses will always serve a great purpose at isolating subjects in order to create a much simpler composition. I often use the longer focal lengths of my 24-70mm or my 100-400mm when isolating a subject is required. I know what you are probably thinking…a 100-400mm lens for landscape photography? Really? Let me show you a few examples where such a lens could become useful and potentially change your mind about what choice of lens you should consider bringing in your camera bag…




THE LAYERING EFFECT


Some days are seriously rich in atmosphere…some days can also be extremely hazy and will offer quite an amazing display of mood! You will have a feeling that every element from one distant scene is truly separated from each other. That image below is a good example of this Layering Effect I am talking about. I was at Lake Louise with a group and the main goal for being there was to photograph the sunset or whatever was going to be a sunset. Sadly, the sunset didn’t really happen… It was a very moody day, the clouds were filling most of the sky and we simply didn’t see the sun setting. I decided to focus on something else, took my 100-400mm lens and started isolating specific areas of the mountain range right in front of my eyes. I came across those similarly shaped superposed lines. I loved the fact that the one in the front was much sharper than the one hiding behind…which was also more defined than the other one behind… This layering effect helps in adding depth to the composition. Be aware that these kinds of images aren’t always going to be easy to see. You will be required to look carefully with your eyes open and pay attention.

Using multiple juxtaposed and similarly shaped lines really helps to create beautiful depth in an intimate scene! Would you believe me if I told you this was shot at Lake Louise? Yup! While everybody was photographing the lake, I was concentrating on small portions of a big scene to create something unique yet beautiful!





LESS IS MORE



A composition doesn’t alway have to have a great amount of detail in order to work. I love to use strong leading lines to bring my viewers’ eyes deeper into my compositions. See this article RIGHT HERE for more examples of those said leading lines I love to use… But an image can also be very simple and only use one simple element in the frame to make it shine! One phenomenon I had a chance to witness in the Canadian Rockies was to photograph some flooded aspen trees along the shore of a lake. A lake’s water level will often raise in the fall season which will result in some of the vegetation getting their feet wet. Exactly what happened here…we found some lovely aspen trees with their proven ground flooded which creates a truly simple and pure scene. Here, I chose to photograph a pair of aspen trees in such a way that they would be the star of my composition and used a Neutral Density filter to create a much softer water surface.

Less is more! What a good example for this popular expression that can also be applied to photography! I chose to photograph only the base of a pair of flooded aspen trees in their temporary environment. To make the subject stand out more, I chose to use a Neutral Density filter in order to blur the surrounding water. This effect also creates some visually interesting texture contrasts.





ISOLATING YOUR SUBJECT


I was co-leading a photography workshop and on that specific morning, we went to photograph a lovely sunrise at Vermillion Lakes. The light truly turned into our favor, we had some beautiful textured low clouds which caught some deep dark pink hues…but it lasted only a few minutes! Shall we leave and go elsewhere? Heck no! Lets get our long lenses out of the camera bag and focus on intimate images! I fell in love with that small rocky island on which moss, vegetation and a cute pine tree are growing! Small subjects like these will always create quite an impact!

A landscape image doesn't always need to be grand in order to work. Try focusing on one element of your scene by isolating it with a longer focal such as 200mm or even more!





UPSIDE DOWN REFLECTION


I love reflection…and I am sure that you also love reflections! We landscape photographers all love reflections! We don’t always need to photograph grand scenes with reflections. We can isolate one specific part of a reflection and compose it in such a way that it will greatly contrast in shape or in colour with its surroundings! Try playing with opposed colours of the visible light spectrum! Red and Cyan being two opposite colours here, you can clearly see how that image will create a great impact right?

We as landscape photographers love to photograph reflections. It is always nice to have an amazing subject and its own reflection in the same image. You should try to photograph your subject's reflection and include some elements of the foreground to create some really fun and artistic images. Please also notice how I used two opposed colours of the visible light spectrum to create some nice contrast.





CONVERGING LINES


I always find it super fun and inspiring to photograph lines… Yes, you got this right! Photographing lines! It will require a bit of practice to have it right…but once you master the art of composing with simple lines, you will have minimalist images that will have a great impact! I love a composition made of just a few lines that makes your eyes jump from one line to the next…then to the next! An image doesn’t need to contain a wide variety of elements to be strong!

Snow Pillows
Compositions like this one will require some practice. All we have here are snow covered rocks and lines…but I love the fact that all those diagonal lines also serve a purpose to bring our eyes deeper into the composition.


SUCKER FOR DETAILS


I don’t know about you but as far as I am concerned, I really love details. And nature just happens to be rich in details. As a landscape photographer, I love to display those rich details from rocks, snow, ice and more… Try focusing on specific details…isolate specific areas of trees or rocks…also try a different perspective such as pointing your camera towards the ceiling of a cave! You will be amazed at what you can find!

Realm of Dreams
Details and textures are a favorite subject of mine to include in my images! Then why not make images in which that said texture could potentially be our main subject? Try focusing on those rich details and repetitive patterns to create impactful minimalist images.





WHAT EVER IS UNDER YOUR FEET


Now that you have photographed rocks, trees, cave ceilings…never under estimate the power of the ground on which your feet are standing on. Everything can be an interesting subject! Seriously everything! We are actually in the middle of the fall season right now? Try focusing on tree leaves that feel to the ground. In just a couple of months, the lakes will be frozen for the colder months of the year. Try focusing on cool shapes and cracks in the ice! I love cracks and bubbles in the ice! Not only are they fun to photograph, they can always create an amazing impact in minimalist images!

The ground on which you are standing can potentially be a great image! Look for lines, look for different textures or shapes...you might potentially be just a foot away from an award winning image!





…IN CONCLUSION


So in conclusion, what you have to keep in mind is that those kinds of images will require you to stop for a short period of time, think about what you could compose your image with and then capture! They require practice. You will need to exercise your eyes so you can see those small hidden gems. It is absolutely necessary to do a lot of trial and error in order to be successful with Minimalist and Intimate Photography but once you get it right, you will truly enjoy the photographic potential of what was basically invisible to you just a couple of months ago.

Please keep in mind that when using a longer focal for photography, you will be required to use a sturdy tripod…you definitely want to avoid any lens vibration otherwise you will end up creating blurry messes. Take your time, compose wisely on a tripod, make sure your settings make sense and enjoy Minimalist and Intimate Photography.

Solitude