Making Images With Impact: Part Two

Male lion and lioness fighting on a Botswana safari.

25 Feb Making Images With Impact: Part Two

This is the second installment in a three-part series. Check out Part One of Making Images With Impact before reading on!


moth and flowers by Rick Sammon

Photo by Rick Sammon.

Lenses can help us make images with impact, because they provide an unusual view of everyday subjects. My photograph of a newly hatched dagger wing butterfly shows the beautiful animal larger than life – in great detail – thanks to my Canon 50mm macro lens. My photograph of some tulips at Keukenhof Gardens that I took on a trip to The Netherlands has impact due in part to the Canon 15mm fisheye lens. The angle at which I photographed these flowers also adds to the impact of the photograph.

Try photographing the same scene with different lenses to see if one or more give you a more dramatic photograph.

Shutter Speed

how to use shutter speed by rick sammon

Photo by Rick Sammon.


The shutter speed at which we shoot helps us tell a story, or more accurately our story, of a subject or scene. I used a shutter speed of .4 seconds to blur the water in this small waterfall that I photographed in Iceland.


bald eagle catching a fish by Rick Sammon.

Photo by Rick Sammon.

To freeze the movement of the bald eagle coming in to grab a fish in Alaska, I used a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second.

Those shutter speeds at not my recommendations for photographing all scenes with moving water and for birds in flight. Your shutter speeds selection depends on how fast the subjects are moving, the desired effect, what lens you are using and how close you are to the subject. My advice: experiment and think about the end result.

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Using Shadows in Photography. Sand dunes in Death Valley by Rick Sammon

Photo by Rick Sammon.

Shadows are the soul of the photograph. As my friend Alex Morley point out, “Most images have more impact when anchored with black areas.”

It’s the long shadows in this early morning photograph of the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley, California, that add impact to this image.

Also note that shadows add a sense of depth to a photograph, and as portrait photographs say, “Shadows are your friend.”

When including shadows in your photograph, keep in mind that most digital noise shows up in the shadow parts of an image. With that in mind, you may need to reduce noise in deep shadows in Lightroom, Photoshop or with a plug-in such as Topaz DeNoise.

This image is cropped to the HDTV format. Cropping, but eliminating boring parts of an image (dull sky and more foreground sand in this case) can also give a picture more impact.

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Male lion and lioness fighting on a Botswana safari.

Photo by Rick Sammon.

In looking at this photograph, which I took on a Botswana safari, you may ask, “What was the outcome of this interaction, during mating, between the lion and the lioness? Who won?”

Through anticipation, this photograph invites participation. Not all photographs involve, or need to involve participation, but having the viewer ask a question is a good attention-getting technique.


making images with impact

Photo by Rick Sammon.

Photographs that make us smile can have impact – or create a reaction, which could be considered having an impact.

I photographed this man smoking in a remove village in China. The timing of this shot (one of more than dozen I took) was just right. The smoke almost perfectly circles and surrounds his head. That smoke, and the size of his pipe, which we called a “bong” at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969, causes people to laugh in my presentations – especially after I tell them that I was at Woodstock (from what I can remember).

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longneck woman in myanmar by rick sammon.

Photo by Rick Sammon.

Showing the exotic can give a photograph impact. This photograph of a longneck woman, who I photographed in Myanmar, had an impact on my friend, Steve. He was upset when seeing “this type of body mutilation.”

I don’t feel the same way about the photograph. The subject had an impact on me because she exuded dignity.






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Rick Sammon
Rick Sammon is our regular and intrepid photo columnist here on Adventure Collection. To see more of his work, and to learn about his photography workshops, check out his web site:
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