Rural Chiang Mai, split toning photograph

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F11 1/200th  70mm  ISO 100

 

What's the single ultimate skill of a photographer?  Follow along to find out.  There are many ways to make an image interesting.  From a style standpoint you have several choices from the perspective of your focal length, depth of field, lighting, and of course composition.  All are powerful, but I think lighting is the most powerful component, like the queen on a chessboard.  The overall composition, the image, is the King.

This image is significant because it's a good example of using light to draw interest by leading the viewers eye.  The actual scene as viewed with the naked eye was boring.  Monochromatic toning reveals a pattern of light easily missed in color.  The toning also reveals multiple foreground, mid-ground, and background components lending further interest.

Start out with scrub brush and a road appearing to the left of the frame, trees spaced out in a way you can feel the different distances, the road component in the center, mountains, a tree line, and clouds.  By themselves none of these components are very interesting.  The interest is in the arrangement of the components and the toning brings the components to life so they can be better viewed.  I think it helps that the image is sharp, but lets look at this next image.

 

Outside of Tuk and closer to Chiang Mak you can find many rural landscape opportunities

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F11 1/125th  38mm  ISO 100

 

Nothing in this image is in proper focus.  yet, the toning and compositional components impart a 'mood' to this image that appeals.  The clouds are dark, as is the tree line and the main tree, but the varying levels of light in the open spaces shape the image and draw the eye.  A lone tree dark against less dark rain clouds, open spaces illuminated by the parts in the clouds, and the toning makes a compelling image.  Yet nothing is in focus.

Of course neither of these are great images.  But I think both are interesting to a degree.  A great image is where all your components, subject, light, composition, and more all come together.  Sometimes though it's good to pay attention to the individual components, to study and learn to use them separately.  Doing so will help you recognize and properly process all the components for a great image when one comes your way.  Doing so will help you 'see' such an image before it becomes an image.  This is the ultimate skill.