Montana Mountain

by Neal Jorgensen

I was driving through Montana last Aug. with my point and shoot camera in tow.

It was an over cast day and this view caught my eye. I liked the way the corner post looked, and the way the fence drew my eye to the mountain.

After taking the picture I cropped it a little and improved the colors in Picasa.

(For convenience, all links below open in new windows)
This photo I find quite interesting.

When I received it I had a glance, and then moved on to another submission. And then I had to go back for another look, and then I put it to the side again. And then I went back . . . can you see a pattern emerging here!

There is something about this photo that really does keep drawing me (and no doubt many others) back to it – and that is surely the sign of a good photo!

But this page isn't just for back-patting. Let's have a deeper look at Neal's photo to identify why it works so well, and pass on a few tips in the process.

First of all – my number one rule – take a camera with you whenever you can. Neal was driving past this shot, and if he had left his camera back at home, there would be no picture at all.

Then there is the composition. This is a really strong part of Neal's photo. It fits quite neatly with the rule of thirds (click to read more about the rule of thirds). The mountains, and the sky provide interest at the top, and the gate involves us at the bottom.

But there is more about this composition that really grabs the viewer – lead in lines. These are lines that go across photos, usually at diagonals, and lead the viewer's eyes into the scene. Here the fence makes a perfect lead in line.

Moving on from the composition, the colours here also grab me. Often scenic shots benefit from a colour boost in software. But not always.

If the scene is overcast, and more gritty drama is called for, bright colours don't work. In these sort of scenes more muted colours work well.

Although Neal states he adjusted the colours in Picasa I think he has done a good job. Not too bright at all, and keeping the drama of the scene.

At the risk of contradicting myself, if there is one thing I would have a fiddle with, it would be the colours. Here's what I would do; using software, saturate only the yellows. Not too much, keep it subtle.

In Photoshop Elements this can be done by going to Layer, New Adjustment Layer, Hue/Saturation . . . then click 'OK'. In the next window, click the drop-down arrow in the box that says 'Master' and you'll see you can choose which colours to saturate. In this case, I'd go for the yellows only.

It might not work, but it could be an improvement and I reckon it's worth a try.

All in all, this is a really good photo. Thanks Neal for your submission!


Want more tips? Get our recommended eBook.
Read a hands on review here

Click here to post comments

Return to Digital photography tutorials - submissions, May 2008.