Timing and Weather
weather conditions and light can have a big impact on creating minimalist images, whether it's fog or snow or just overcast conditions. We're choosing the time of day so that the light hit your subject. Just write all of these things can be great tools for a minimal photographer, as a landscape and outdoor adventure photographer. I rely on weather forecasts and apps on my phone for a lot of the work that I do. Some of the apps that I like to use our photo pills, Windy dot com, I have a couple of night sky apps, Aurora forecasts, but mostly I rely on local forecasts and local knowledge going out and visiting the same locations over and over again is going to give you a much better idea of what the conditions are typically like and where the subjects are going to be that you might want to shoot when the light or the weather is right. Cape Spear is notorious for having fog and a lot of people have a problem with that. But if you're a landscape photographer like myself who loves minimalism...
and clean compositions, fog is your best friend. If you throw in this beautiful north atlantic ocean washing in and these crazy rocky four grounds, you've got yourself a winning combination and this image here I shot, looking back towards ST john's, just down exploring the coastline a little bit. We had a soft ocean coming in and out that day. Some days the waves can get really big and you're not gonna get this close. And this was kind of a gift because the water was quite low and the ocean was quite relaxed and calm. So I decided to get down there nice and low, find this really nice sort of tunnel leading lines going in from all corners basically as the water was washing in and out, use the longer exposure to get a little bit of wash and then let the fog do all the heavy lifting as all that detail in the background falls off and you just see like just the head of the next Cape over. This next example is from Alberta Canada out on the prairies and we got really lucky over a couple of days last winter where this beautiful sort of hoar frost or ice fog was just sitting on top of the local area for a couple of days and we went out to shoot sunrise and sunset as much as we could because usually when this stuff happens, it doesn't stick around long. So I wanted to maximize the amount of images I could create. And it was just all about going out and finding nice clean lines, A couple of simple subjects to fill that space, but mostly again letting the frost and the fog and these beautiful, hazy conditions do a lot of the heavy lifting to clean up these landscapes. I showed this image earlier in one of the previous lessons, but I wanted to bring it up here again. This is a nice little slice of light moment from baffin Island in nunavut and the reason why I've included here with the weather and the timing section is because going out to these locations over and over. I was noticing that if we had low light at sunrise in this area and we had a decent wind and a recent snow fall, you get this nice powder that was swirled up and kind of pushed around and blow around. And so I wanted to go out and play with some more close up macro shots of these little light and shadow patterns and that play of snow is that dance. And it was really important to have that local knowledge and also be aware of the conditions of the fresh snow and the wind and let all that, combined with the time of day getting the low light to add up, create this sort of minimalist shot. These next two images are one of my favorite pastimes in the north and that's dog sledding or running dog teams. This first image is really pretty clean. It's very simple. I don't really know if it's minimal. I don't know if I'd consider it necessarily a full on minimalist photograph. Uh, but I wanted to show this against the next image to just show you what the power of like and heavy snowfall or a heavy snow day can do with a similar subject. So here you have a dog team and this is like just taking a little break as the dogs are taking a rest and then two of the sort of house dogs, they're more pets who come along for the ride and for fun or just hanging out sitting on the sled with my friend Matty here, the dog runner and it's her team. But you can see how all of the distractions of the first image, even though it's a different perspective, we're looking at a wide angle ends here from a higher elevation. But even if I was down low in shooting this dog team, you'd have these distractions here of the background, you'd have these rocks and stuff in the foreground possibly, or even just the sky itself that might interfere with the dark shapes of the dogs in this letter, compare that to having this nice strong image. This contrast graphic image against a nice clean white backdrop, you get all this beautiful detail, you can see the snow detail blowing and coming in on the dogs here and having that weather phenomenon really helped create this image and it creates so many minimalist images for me here again, I'm gonna show you two images, one, the first of a puffin running off with its catch, some cabling in its mouth there and taking off from the water. Beautiful light, great moment. I love the freezing of action here but again, not really what I would consider a minimalist image. The second image we went out and it was a foggy day, there was a heavy fog lying on the ocean. These puffins were just kind of out and dancing around on these wakes in the water here and there's this beautiful because it's so calm and there's no distraction in the sky or really on the ocean. You get these beautiful reflections in the in the birds as they fly over and it just creates a very calm, very peaceful moment. This last little bit I want to show you guys is from an on location shoot I did in nunavut just recently and I wanted to show you the difference that weather can make and in particular a heavy snowfall. With this main subject here of a red sea can or a shipping container. Uh This is an image taken in mid day with no no fog, no snow, no nothing like that. You can tell. There's a lot going on. A lot of distractions, visual clutter everywhere. Here's the final image that I'm going to show you guys and how I made it going out on a day with lots of snow. And I mean I think it's pretty obvious how different that image can be just by adding snow and trying to intentionally create this minimalism. Mhm. Yeah. Mhm. I really love this time. A snowstorms, the edge of weather, big fog banks. This kind of stuff is actually paradise for me. I've seen this location a dozen times. I walked by it almost every second day. So I knew that there was a shot here to be had if the conditions presented themselves, it was simply a matter of being aware of weather that was coming in and being available to go out and shoot when it hit. One of the first things I did was to check out a few different angles and perspectives, even though I had an idea of what I wanted to take, I wanted to make sure that I was getting the cleanest frame possible and I wasn't missing something. Once I found an angle that I liked, I backed up a little bit and started trying a few different positions in the end to minimize a lot of the footprints in the snow and the distractions in the foreground. I decided to get really, really low and I'll do this a lot. I'll lay my camera in the sand and the mud and the snow. Anything to get that nice clean foreground, You can see that even though the snowfall is handling about 90% of the visual distraction in the shot, I did decide to go from my telephoto lens to frame out some of the neighboring buildings and this beach debris. Something else to keep in mind when you're shooting with a lot of fog or snow like this, it's always a good idea to keep it on your history ram and make sure you're not blowing at any highlights your camera's gonna want to expose a little dark because there's so much brightness coming in, so try half a stop to stop higher than zero. Here's just a reminder of what this looks like without the snow. The shot on a beautiful blue sky day, so much clutter, there's so much going on, there's so much information. Even with a telephoto or changing your perspective, it would have been really hard to get a nice clean, minimalist shot. So here's the final shot, showing just how powerful waiting for weather and picking your moment can be when cleaning up a location.
AFTER THIS CLASS YOU’LL BE ABLE TO:
- Understand and apply the fundamentals of creating strong minimalist compositions.
- Use negative space with intention. Establish mood, control balance in your frame, and elevate your subject from the visual clutter.
- Avoid common traps that can lead to flat or boring minimalist images.
- Explore how much information to keep and how much to take away from the image before it loses impact.
- Understand common gear and technique choices that complement the minimalist style.
ABOUT CURTIS' CLASS:
Do you ever wonder why certain photographs linger with the viewer long after they see them? Why sometimes the smallest point of interest makes the biggest impression? How so much “nothing” can feel so compelling in a scene? Minimalism photography techniques can add a powerful storytelling element to any genre, they can evoke emotion, and bring balance to your frame. Using Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic as his backdrop, this class will outline Curtis’s approach to creating stronger images with a minimalist mindset.
Learn to use the creative techniques of minimalism to intentionally account for every inch of your frame. Discover how to minimize clutter, work with negative space, and master visual balance to boost the overall impact of your compositions. Working in a clean visual style students will learn to look for strong anchors, shapes, and lines while eliminating visual distractions. Curtis will share his experiences and images from some of the world’s most remote destinations to help kick-start your journey toward simplified, cleaner photographs that capture the essence of our world.
WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR:
- Beginner and intermediate photographers interested in outdoor and landscape photography.
- Photographers who want to understand and create with elements of minimalism to help capture the strength and essence of your subject.
- Photographers looking to create cleaner, simplified images that leave an impact on the viewer.
Adobe Lightroom Classic (8.4.1)
Adobe Photoshop CC (20.0.8)