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Richard Bernabe’s Masterful Composition and Lighting

June 10th, 2013 No Comments

Composition and Lighting are perhaps the two essentials of Outdoor Photography.  Richard Bernabe has not only authored an e-book on each of these subjects, many of his photographs reveal mastery over both, composition and light, such as his image of rocks, sea and cliff that has lateral symmetry on the horizon with even the sky and clouds being fairly laterally symmetric which is wonderfully balanced by an assymetric sub-horizon.

 A very readable interview with Bernabe has just appeared on PhotoTuts+.  He says, “When one is confronted with their life’s passion, they are either forever saved or ruined.”  Even though Nature Photography is a tough nut to crack as compared to Wedding and Portraits Photography, Bernabe’s devotion to his passion and calling ‘saved’ him.  It has also been the spur for some stunning Art Photography that verily breathes Composition and Lighting.

Check out Bernabe’s mist-shrouded vision of Machu Picchu.  He has precisely centred the tip of the peak but the background on the right and the slope of the plateau offset the centreing of the peak so that one has both lateral symmetry of a kind (or ‘lateral balance’) and also lateral assymetry in one and the same image.  This technique or vision seems to be a Bernabe speciality.

How about the lighting in the photo of Mt Kirkjufell in Iceland?  The brilliant gold-and-purple sky coupled with the flat-lit yet well textured landscape without any distinct shadows is quite confusing.  The lighting mystery is solved when you read the title of the photo: ‘Midnight Magic’.  Bernabe used the Midnight Sun to super advantage.

Even with a prosaic subject like maple trees Bernabe’s imagination creates a poetic and minimalist impressionistic canvas.  He says that to some extent this is teachable: besides the “mechanics,” he says he can show students “why moving three feet to the left completely changed the image for the better.”  More critically, he says, “I can plant the seeds of curiosity in another person, however, and see if they germinate or just rot away.”

It is those “seeds of curiosity” that may eventually enable a Bernabe student to someday take a photograph of a suitable subject with this palette, shutter speed, perspective, angle of elevation, and aspect ratio that combine to form a perfect picture.


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