Freezing Water

freezing-water-richardson_24344_600x450Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

Perhaps unlocking one creative door opens another.

Somehow that’s how I felt dashing back to the Zodiacs to leave Thistle Fjord in Iceland, flush with confidence from my photographic encounter with the bird wing. If I could break through that creative barrier, what other challenges would succumb to me?

Then I remembered the cascading waterfall near our landing site. Nothing huge, just crystal clear waters sweeping past the ancient farm and dancing down over the rocks to the sea. With a couple of minutes to spare, perhaps I could pull off one more image.

First, a bit of photographic background. Waterfall pictures are moving perilously close to being clichés. I say “close” because I doubt we humans will ever lose our fascination with the delights of cascading water plunging dramatically from on high. But … the techniques used to capture waterfall pictures have become standard fare. The most common current rage is to use a long, very slow shutter speed to turn the water into

Viking Attacks and Group Photos

vikings-group-photo-richardson_33261_600x450Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

While cruising the wild Hebridean seas, we were attacked by Vikings. Beset, we were, by wild men—and women—returned to their ancient haunts, and bedecked in their ancient garb.

Otherwise, it was a nice evening.

Touring the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis had been glorious (as it always is) and the Zodiacs were waiting to take us back to the National Geographic Explorer. Looking like orange-clad doughboys in our life vests, we were facing stiff winds when the Vikings appeared in a side cove. And, glory be, they were a friendly lot, dispensing very welcome hot toddies and looking ever so fearsome in their (plastic) horned helmets. It was a moment that called out for a group photo.

Which brings me (at long last) to my core question: Which is worse, being attacked by Vikings or having to take a group photo?

Being the photographer saddled with group photo duties is made all the worse because many of the hapless subjects feel like they are

7 Quick Landscape Composition Guidelines

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It’s All About the Light: The most dramatic light occurs at sunrise and sunset. The color is warm, it reveals shape and texture due to the low angle, and if there are clouds, the colors can be spectacular. While being out at sunset isn’t much of a sacrifice, getting up at the crack of dawn can be a struggle. But if you don’t, you’ll miss some of the best light of the day.

Think Small: Landscapes are commonly photographed with wide

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