We Simplify The Technical!

Photographer and mountaineer Matt Payne talks about composition
and using light to add drama to your landscape photography.

*Please scroll to the bottom of the post for more images from our guest.*

Episode 173

Dramatic Landscapes with Matt Payne

“Light is almost everything when it comes to landscape photography.  If you don’t have interesting light,
it becomes very difficult to photograph your subject
in a way that’s not boring or harsh.”

Favorite Lighting for Drama

  • Sunrise and sunset
  • Blue hour light
  • Mountain Glow – created when light bounces off the clouds/atmosphere after the sun has set behind the peaks. Difficult to see, but picked up more by a long exposure shot.  Brings out soft shadows with subtle reds, blues and purples.


“It’s more important what you leave out than what you leave in.”

  • Look for elements that:
    – Accentuate the composition or subject.
    – Are pleasing to the eye.
    – Draw your eye through the composition.
    – Highlight shapes and textures.
  • If it becomes difficult to find your subject – keep fewer elements in the scene.
  • Be mindful about how much emphasis you put onto foreground elements compared to mid and background elements.


“My goal is to present a photograph in a tasteful way that represents the experience that I had.”

  • Use luminosity masks and dodge/burn layers to:

    – Accentuate the light that you want the viewer to focus on.

    – De-emphasize parts that you don’t want the eye to view as much.

  • Make it more interesting with MINOR adjustments in color balance and hue.
  • Layer long exposures from the golden or blue hours.

Gear and Lens Choice

  • A full list of Matt’s gear can be found HERE on his website.
  • He typically shoots with a 24 mm or 50 mm lens.
  • A telephoto can be used to compress the layers of mountains.
  • A wide angle can help accentuate interesting foreground elements.

“Always follow ‘Leave No Trace’ principles and strive
to leave places better than you found them.”

Finding Matt

MattPaynePhotography.com                     Facebook

NatureFirstPhotography.org                     Instagram

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Gear Recommendation
of the Week


Wimberley Plamp

The Plamp is an articulating arm used to hold macro subjects and other useful objects. The large black and orange clamp on one end attaches to your tripod leg, Plamp Stake, or any other suitable solid object. The opposing end (with the smaller gray clip) grasps the object you wish to hold.

Use the Plamp to stabilize windblown subjects, adjust the position or angle of your subject, or move obstructing foliage. You can also use the Plamp to hold reflectors and lens shades. One day in the field with a Plamp and you will begin to realize its full potential. And now, the newly redesigned Plamp is even better. 




Matt Payne In cosmic wonder
Matt Payne Chair Mountain Blazing Panorama
Matt Payne Big Blue Wilderness
Matt Payne Capitol Peak on Fire
Matt Payne Patience and Time
Matt Payne Sunset Behind the Wilsons

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