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by Phil Ball

Q. I visited the Grand Canyon recently and enjoyed going to all the overlooks and taking some very nice photos. Or so I thought until I realized that a busload of tourists had arrived and the visitors jumped off the bus and took exactly the same photos I'd just taken. We were at a spectacular location but all our photos looked nearly the same; mine were just like the rest. How do I make special photos that stand out from everyone else's?

A. Every day, we are inundated by images as seen on our televisions, in magazines, and on the Internet. The photos you just described that look just like everyone else's are what I call snapshots. Most folks think that to make spectacular photos, you must go to spectacular places. While it is true that being there is a good start, to truly make outstanding photos, you need to put a lot of time and energy into making them.

Try moving around to find an interesting foreground. A gnarled old tree may provide a frame for your picture with one of its branches. Moving to the side may allow you to include an interesting cloud in the background. Try zooming in to show details that most everyone else doesn't see. Some of my favorite shots of the Grand Canyon are smaller areas with interesting lighting and shadows which would be lost in the bigger picture. Try being there early in the day or later in the afternoon to enjoy the warmer, softer light. Watch for interesting skies which can add interest to otherwise dull scenes.

The measure of a really good landscape photo is the amount of time the photographer devotes to his image. Few of the spectacular images seen in quality photo magazines were taken by just arriving and taking the first shot he saw. Good photography takes time. A fisherman cannot expect to arrive at Lynx Lake and catch his quota in the first few moments after arrival and likewise, a quality photograph rarely happens upon first arrival either. Relax and take your time and better images will result.

Published: Courier 5/4/14 - Page 4C