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Think on your feet

Image of the September 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
September 2018 Issue

Put your camera aside and spend a few minutes exploring the scene and you may well stumble on interesting features.


Try to present the environment as a stack of layers. Shooting in portrait orientation can help to emphasise the vertical aspect of a scene and its constituent parts.


So, you do not like a certain tramping photo? I challenge you to check if it has any interesting features in the foreground. I bet it doesn’t!

Most photographers forget to include an interesting foreground in their images. The result is a perspective that lacks any kind of connection to the location. It just floats somewhere above the ground, denying the viewer a tangible sense of place. Lowering your camera angle and using a wide angle lens will help to include more foreground in your frame.


Tramping is not an action sport. Even so, you can still bring your scene to life by capturing activities like putting up a tent or having dinner with a view. Your goal is to make the viewer feel like they want to swap places with your subject.


You have little influence over the colour of the landscape, but you can always ask people to change into a more colourful jacket. Pick colours that provide better separation from the background.

About this photo

When we were crossing this area I liked the background, but a steep slope of tussock made for a boring foreground. Putting an interesting rock formation in the foreground (I am pretty much lying on the ground) helps give the viewer a solid vantage point for this image. From there, I built a composition of layers: rock, tussock, a person walking, field of boulders, mountain and sky.

Having the rock right of the centre line and the person on the left creates a sense of balance in the composition. The sky adds a calm space for the eye to rest on in an otherwise busy scene full of micro contrasts. The tramper’s red jacket helps separate her from the background while her purposeful stride adds movement.

Camera: Fujifilm X-T2
Lens: Fujifilm XF10-24
Settings: 13mm, ISO400, f9, 1/320s 

– Dennis is a Christchurch-based photographer and teaches photography at www.heroworkshops.com