How Thomas Heaton changed my images.

    I don’t shoot nearly as many of the wide landscapes anymore. Part of this is probably because I bought more normal focal length lenses, but I believe it is also because Thomas Heaton’s work is inspiring me to simplify scenes and work at focal lengths that are more traditional.

 A classic wide shot of horseshoe bend I shot with my 14mm Rokinon.

A classic wide shot of horseshoe bend I shot with my 14mm Rokinon.

 A wide image of Delicate Arch during a snowfall I still really like.

A wide image of Delicate Arch during a snowfall I still really like.

 Stitched panorama using a 70-200mm.

Stitched panorama using a 70-200mm.

    Thomas Heaton tends to shoot his images at focal lengths longer than 24mm. Actually, I often see him doing his best work with a 70-200mm lens. I started following his work when he started to document his creative process, and over time this has had a significant impact on what I look for in a landscape image. I see him take a large landscape and focus it down into a small part that he likes instead of just shooting the whole thing. I think this is a valuable lesson that I took to heart slowly only to eventually begin to show up in my own work.

    It has been years since I started photographing landscapes and I started with a kit lens on a cheap Sony camera. I then moved up to a wider fixed focal length lens on a micro 4/3rds camera and then to a 14mm ultra wide lens that did a great job for the longest time. I wrote an article on here that is still the most popular blog post I have ever posted, but I have recently been inspired to contradict it. I believe a 14mm lens is my favorite portrait lens and my favorite landscape lens is a 24-70mm lens on a full frame closely followed by a 70-200mm because they buck against trends.

    Looking at the first three images in this post show how I used to approach landscape photography. They aren't necessarily bad, but they are not the same approach or style I carry now. I have compiled three newer images that I would say represent what I want to do more of in the future. A more considered and selective method in landscape photography that excludes more of the scene in order to focus on elements that work best together. 

 Shot at 50mm this helps avoid decreasing the size of the mountain in the frame.

Shot at 50mm this helps avoid decreasing the size of the mountain in the frame.

 A telephoto image compressing the landscape and adding drama using a longer lens.

A telephoto image compressing the landscape and adding drama using a longer lens.

 Also shot at 50mm, this gives the feeling of being closer to the landscape.

Also shot at 50mm, this gives the feeling of being closer to the landscape.