Transform your landscapes with square format

May 16, 2022

Why compose your landscape images in a square format? Three top photographers with different approaches share their creative reasons with Claire Gillo

How to: Square Format Landscape Photography

Jonathan Chritchley

Jonathan Chritchley is a fine art photographer whose many prestigious clients including Ralph Lauren and Vogue. He is known for his artistic approach to seascapes, sailing and wildlife. Jonathan is the founder and owner of Ocean Capture, which specialises in luxury photography tours. Visit, and follow on Instagram @jonathanchritchley and @oceancapture.

Jonathan Chritchley is lucky enough to reside in the glorious warm climate of the South of France, however he was born in the UK in the sprawling urban suburbs of Wimbledon in London. At the age of 14 Jonathan moved to a small sailing town called Lymington on the south coast of England and it was here the photographer became infatuated by the water. ‘The water has always been very close,’ he says. ‘The sea is very important to me.’

Torii, Japan. 10 secs at f/11, ISO 100

Jonathan doesn’t tie himself to one genre of photography, and his work crosses from seascapes, to wildlife (mainly horses) and sailing boats. Most of his images however are united by the water, a black & white finish and a square image crop. Shooting in square is something Jonathan feels comfortable with as he comes from a film background. ‘I used to work with a Hasselblad 6×6 square format film,’ he says. ‘Once I got into digital I was using a 35mm format but it didn’t quite feel right.’

Jonathan continues to explain that at first the purist in him felt like it would be fake and dishonest to mess around with the aspect ratio of his images. After struggling for a while Jonathan listened to his gut and started to crop his digital images to square. ‘As a photographer you have to follow your preferences and those strong feelings of what you personally like into your photography.’

Jonathan takes his square format images on his Nikon D850 and for the time being he is very happy with his set-up. ‘I’m not really interested in going mirrorless at the moment,’ he states. ‘I like big, heavy cameras.’ For Jonathan when he’s precariously standing on a moving boat or trying to steady himself as he tracks a moving horse he finds having a heavy camera body balances him.

Gathering Storm, France. 25 secs at f/18, ISO 100

‘It weighs me down in a good way,’ he says. Jonathan says he has three Nikon camera bodies and they get a good smashing about. ‘They’re bulletproof!’ he jokes. As for lenses Jonathan has a range of Zeiss and Nikon brands in his collection. ‘I always carry with me the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. It’s fantastic – I love it.’ He finds this lens particularly useful for shooting moving matter such as sailing boats and horses. Jonathan also highlights his fixed Zeiss Distagon 21mm F2.8 from his collection for taking his seascapes. ‘It’s quite old now,’ he says, ‘but it’s still brilliant.’

If you’re interested in shooting square format images yourself Jonathan leaves our interview with some great advice. ‘Start by cropping your existing images square and learn from that,’ he counsels. ‘On a rainy day go through your back catalogue and move the square crop around in the frame. Start to see how you can place things effectively in the frame.’

Ice Moon, Disko Bay, Greenland. 1/640sec at f/13, ISO 100

For those with cameras that cannot shoot square Jonathan advises to frame your compositions wider. ‘Some people like to compose in portrait format, and chop off the top and bottom of the image, and some like to compose in a landscape orientation, which is what I tend to do. Either way works,’ he continues. ‘It’s a case of leaving enough space, because if you’re going to chop the sides off then you want to make sure there’s nothing crucial left out of your composition.’

Lone Cypress, California. 30 secs at f/11, ISO 100

Jonathan’s top 3 tips:

  1. Crop your existing pictures square to see if you like it and to find out what works.
  2. If your camera has an in-camera square format feature, set it up.
  3. Shoot wider than you normally would to allow you to crop in square.

Beata Moore

Beata Moore is a photographer and writer living in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. She is the author of five coffee-table books and two visitor guidebooks. Currently she is working on her eighth book, Photographing Surrey and Sussex, for fotoVUE publishers, which will be available next year. Find out more at and follow on Instagram @moorebeata, FaceBook @BeataMoorePhotography and Twitter @BeaM00RE.

Beata Moore is inspired by the sea, geology, nature, and architecture. ‘I like to observe light, colour, lines and patterns in the landscapes,’ she says. Beata has always had a keen interest in nature, and attained a postgraduate degree in botany. ‘At first, many of my photographs showed the natural world, especially trees. To this day I am still enchanted by the timeless beauty of the trees,’ she continues. ‘However, soon into my photographic career I established a preference for seascapes and waterscapes. I am particularly drawn to the subtleties of smaller details of landscape providing me with endless patterns, shapes and textures.’

Dunes, Isle of Harris. 1/40sec at f/8, ISO 100

Having learnt her craft with film cameras, both 35mm and medium format, she now works exclusively with digital. ‘Last year I switched from Canon DSLRs to Canon mirrorless bodies,’ she tells us. ‘Most of my lenses are Canon, from a wideangle to a 400mm. My Canon EOS RP with the RF 70-200mm f4 L IS USM lens is my lightest and most favourite set-up at the moment.

The RF 70-200mm lens isolates key elements within the landscape well, and most importantly it has great centre sharpness. It nicely flattens the perspective and opens up a world of endless patterns and shapes that are hard to notice with wider lenses.’

The wild sea from her project ‘Sea Fury’. Taken at Newhaven, East Sussex. 1/4000sec at f/9, ISO 500

Growing up, Beata found there were always cameras around at home. ‘My father’s old Pentacon Six was my very first camera I used as a teenager. It was a cumbersome camera made in East Germany in the ’70s. Mastering film loading took me ages, and it was so heavy that I constantly complained! Nevertheless, I loved seeing the world in what felt like three-dimensional glass of the waist-level viewfinder. Framing the image was exciting – seeing sharp 6×6 squares with plenty of details, was just pure joy.’

When it comes to shooting square with digital Beata prefers not to take the shot square in camera but rather alter this at the editing stage. ‘Cropping at the post production stage gives me more flexibility and occasionally, new ideas regarding the crop,’ she tells us. ‘Also, sporadically, I create two images from just one frame.’ She continues to describe how this can be useful for exhibiting two images with similar colours and feel, or for creating diptychs. Beata often exhibits her images in galleries and she finds the square format to not only work well as a stand-alone image but also in a set of two or three.

Camber Sands, East Sussex. The black & white finish brings out the textured grass. 1/1000sec at f/8, ISO 320

Beata finds the square format fits in better with her approach to photography as it captures intimate landscapes, less literal scenes, and the abstracts that she often shoots. ‘It also hugs images giving them this neatly “boxed” feeling,’ she says. ‘The way we look at squares is different from rectangular images, as all the sides of a square have an equal weighting, so our eye moves around the frame in a circular motion, rather than linear,’ she continues.

‘Squares require a little bit more effort and often more simplicity when composing, so be sure to concentrate on the main subject and its placement. Remember that square is not an ideal format for everything, however, and even when the preference is strong, it may not be suitable for all our photographs.’

Sand Ripples, Scotland. 6.2 secs at f/22, ISO 100

Beata’s top 3 tips:

  1. When creating square images, a sense of order and harmony is very important, so simplify your composition.
  2. Square formats are ideal for central placement, but also for placement near any edge of the frame, so be bold with your composition.
  3. Don’t be afraid of using negative space around the subject – it can improve the image significantly.

Lea Tippett

Lea Tippett is a landscape photographer and Sigma ambassador based in the South West of the UK. He has much experience photographing this part of the world as well as travelling further afield to many places including Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Find out more at and follow on Instagram @lea.tippett and Facebook @Lea Tippett Landscape Photographer. Throughout 2022 Lea is running a range of Sigma Masterclass workshops. Find out more at

Lea Tippett started his photographic journey in the early days of digital and has since grown with the technology and medium. Trying his hand at whatever came his way to begin, Lea found he was no good at taking portraits but was pulled towards the landscape genre and nature. It was from there his practice evolved. ‘I’m very fortunate as I’ve been an ambassador for Sigma for over ten years now,’ Lea tells us. ‘I’ve always stuck with the Sigma cameras and lenses as well.’

Taken at Bow Fiddle Rock Portnockie Scotland just after sunset. 250 secs at f/11, ISO 6

Currently Lea shoots on a Sigma fp and fp L camera bodies, and has in his bag a range of Sigma lenses including his number one choice for his landscapes, a Sigma Art 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN. ‘It’s a lovely lens,’ he tells us. ‘It’s nice and bright and sharp at the corners as well…. But obviously I cut off the corners anyway!’ he laughs. For Lea he likes to compose and shoot his square images in camera.

‘I do this rather than processing, purely because I can,’ he says. ‘It’s more convenient as I can see what I’ve got on screen rather than having to chop and change the image around after.’ To hunt for the ideal composition before Lea even gets his camera out, he uses a square plastic window. ‘I’m a bit of an old fuddy-duddy!’ he laughs.

Taken at Llyn Padarn in North Wales. 5 secs at f/13, ISO 100

‘I cut myself a little plastic square window, which I take around with me. People must look at me and think what the hell’s that guy doing?’ he laughs again. ‘In all seriousness though, it’s easy because you can take the square in your camera bag, pop it out and place it in front of you, and see straight away how an image will work. I also use my iPhone to do this, which I’ve set to square.’

For Lea, his journey to shoot square was something he tried simply because he was inspired to do so. ‘Some of my favourite photographers shoot that way,’ he says. ‘Photographers like Bruce Percy in particular. I’ve got a lot of time for his work. His work is like poetry – it’s more than just a photograph.’ As for his own practice, Lea finds the square format to be more compositionally forgiving. ‘As far as where you place the subject, you don’t necessarily have to work to the rules,’ he reveals.

Taken on beautiful Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides Scotland. 30 secs at f/11, ISO 100

‘The rules are far more relaxed. I also find square images have more of an artistic appeal, and this retro look, which is something I like.’ Lea also finds it appealing that his square landscape scenes separates him in what is a highly competitive industry. ‘A few years back, I realised my photography was similar to everybody else. I was taking images 3:2, which is fine, but I wanted my work to be set away from the norm.

‘I wanted to develop and be known for my own look. I’m not saying I’m the only one who shoots square – far from it – just that fewer people tend to, which is another appeal for me.’

Taken on Tory Island off the Donegal coast in Ireland showing the headland named the key. 30 secs at f/13, ISO 100

Lea’s top 3 tips:

  1. Start by practising. Set your mobile phone to square and have a go.
  2. If you can set your camera to shoot square then do so. You can see your compositions as you shoot.
  3. Take a small light square frame around with you. This could simply be made from a piece of cardboard or plastic.

Taken at Burnham on Sea in Somerset showing the nine-legged wooden lighthouse at sunset. 30 secs at f/11, ISO 100

Further reading:

How to take the minimalist approach to landscapes

Beginners guide to Landscape Photography

Intimate Spring: landscape photography with a difference

Follow AP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

2021 Most Wanted Photography For Sale Online

A Decade Long Journey

Looking back on 2021, I can’t help but to remind myself how fortunate I am being able to continue to build my landscape photography business in the midst of a global pandemic. At the end of 2020 I wrote “How I Sold A Half Million In Prints During A Pandemic” after surpasing that incredible milestone for the year. In 2021, for the 9th year in a row, I increased my online print sales by more than 20%, after selling a quarter million in prints the last 3 months of the year alone, all from my home office. It’s a dream come true to be honest, but not one that came to fruition easily.

I share my successes in an attempt to inspire others. I am personally inspired by stories of growth & struggle but more importantly of the successes on the other side. Ten years ago selling prints was nothing more than a wish to me. If I can do this, you can too, but you’re going to need to put in work.

Some think I am lucky, or that I have found some magic “trick” to this level of success selling my work, but the fact is that when it comes to selling photography prints online I simply grind harder than everyone else. Every day, all day, I hustle. I stay hungry. You know what they say about a closed mouth….

Giving Back To People & The Planet

It’s not all work, as I spend a considerable amount of time giving back as well. I worked directly with over 20 photographers last year through my business mentoring plan and have provided the information and motivation to others that have helped build entire online photography businesses from scratch. My very last “selling fine art photography” workshop is coming up this May and at the time of this writing there are still a few seats left.

In 2021, my donations to give back to nature helped plant close to 20,000 trees and created over 1900 days of work for villagers in impoverished countries around the world. I am honored and humbled by the hundreds of collectors each year who collect and display my work in their homes and offices around the world.

Without further delay, I present you with the list of my top selling landscape photography prints of 2021!

Top Fine Art Nature Photography Prints of 2021

1. Heavens Gate – Portland Japanese Garden

A legendary Japanese maple at the height of its autumn spendor sits on a hillside inside the Japanese garden in Portland, Oregon. Large, framed & unframed wall art prints for sale. Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

2. On Earth As In Is In Heaven – Mount Rainier National Park

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, On Earth As It Is In Heaven, from his Newest Work Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

3. Let There Be Light – Kirkjufell, Iceland

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Let There Be Light, from his Iceland Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

4. Out To Sea – La Jolla, California

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s luxury fine art photography print, Out To Sea, from his Panoramic Wall Art collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

5. Tunnel Vision – North Bend, Washington

A long tree lined driveway boasting fiery reds of autumn welcomes visitors in the town of North Bend, Washington. Large, framed & unframed wall art prints for sale. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

6. Echoes Of Fall – Leavenworth, Washington

Stark white aspen trees blanketed by fog and contrasted by autumn undergrowth in this small aspen grove near Leavenworth, Washington. Large, framed & unframed wall art prints for sale. Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

7. ShapeShifter – Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Create a window into nature with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, ShapeShifter, from his American Southwest Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 100

8. Colorado Gold – Aspen, Colorado

A young stand of stark white aspen trees grows from golden grasses inside the Maroon Bells area in Aspen, Colorado. Large, framed & unframed wall art prints for sale. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

9. The Window – Mesa Arch, Utah

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s luxury fine art photography print, The Window, from his Panoramic Wall Art collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 100

10. Infinite Worlds – Lost In Iceland

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Infinite Worlds, from his Abstract Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Up & Coming For 2022

Like many of you I spent the majority of 2021 in the safety of my home. With a young, at risk child at home, the safety of my family came before everything else. I only made it out to shoot a handful of times but one of those times was a very rewarding and fruitful trip to Iceland in between waves. That trip yielded a handful of images that have already began to sell well and will be top contenders for next years list. You can see a few of them below. Thank you for taking the time to read this post allowing you to share my successes of 2021. I wish you all the very best in 2022 in life and in business!

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, The Empire, from his Iceland Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Diamonds In The Sky, from his Iceland Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Ocean’s Treasures, from his Iceland Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, SeaSnakes, from his Abstract Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

15 Most photo-worthy spots in !

Coeur d’Alene (/ˌkɔːr dəˈleɪn/ KOR də-LAYN; French: Cœur d’Alêne, lit. ‘Heart of an Awl’ [kœʁ d‿a.lɛn]) is a city and the county seat of Kootenai County, Idaho, United States. It is the largest city in North Idaho and the principal city of the Coeur d’Alene Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 2020, the United States Census Bureau estimated the city’s population at 53,354. Coeur d’Alene is a satellite city of Spokane, which is located about thirty miles (50 km) to the west in the state of Washington. The two cities are the key components of the Spokane–Coeur d’Alene Combined Statistical Area, of which Coeur d’Alene is the third-largest city (after Spokane and its largest suburb, Spokane Valley). The city is situated on the north shore of the 25-mile (40 km) long Lake Coeur d’Alene and to the west of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains. Locally, Coeur d’Alene is known as the “Lake City,” or simply called by its initials, “CDA.

In you will find some beautiful attractions that you just cannot miss! Places like Lake Coeur D’alene, North Idaho Centennial Trail, and Harriman State Park and many more. Continue reading to know more.

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Enjoy outdoor activities, on land and water, and a crazy golf game.

This lake, which is 26 miles long, is the second-largest in northern Idaho. Thus, it is a natural playground complemented by parks, campgrounds, beaches, trails, and recreational areas. The lake also has well-maintained boat launches, along with rentals of jet skis, sailboats, and other watercraft. You can do all these within a beautiful setting that offers magnificent mountain views.

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North Idaho Centennial Trail is a point-to-point trail that features beautiful scenery since it houses a lake.

North Idaho Centennial Trail, located in Idaho, is a multi-use trail where it is accessible all year-round. It is a point-to-point trail where visitors could admire the beauty of nature as it houses a lake. The trail is also ideal for other outdoor activities aside from walking such as cycling.

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Harriman State Park lies within a 16,000 acre in Idaho, United States.

Harriman State Park has 22 miles of mountain biking, hiking trails, horseback riding trails with gorgeous views of the beautiful mountains. The world’s largest waterfowl species are commonly seen in this park. Winter events are very famous in this park, they include snowshoeing, skiing, fat biking. Good wildlife and fishing with beautiful picnic spots can be enjoyed in this park. The parking fee is very reasonable and worth it.

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Timberline Adventures offers the ultimate outdoor experience in Coeur d’Alene which one should not miss.

Timberline Adventures offers the ultimate outdoor experience in Coeur d’Alene, with 7 lines, 3 sky bridges, and out-of-this-world views. A van will pick you up and bring you to Timberline. The land overlooking Beauty Bay is located 12 miles east of downtown. The Yamaha Viking will be just that: a Yamaha Viking. A zip line canopy tour guide. With the assistance of a guide, you may reach the top of the canopy.

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An excellent place to stay on a vacation to Coeur d’Alene.

The Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn is located in Idaho, United States. The hotel provides 122 well-furnished rooms at affordable prices. The inn is close to the river and is just 3 km from Kootenai Clinic Hospital Medicine and Coeur d’Alene Golf Course. The hotel has an indoor pool, sports bar, free internet access, and an on-site restaurant offering delightful cuisines. You can also enjoy horseback riding, fishing, and boating.

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Hiawatha Trail is known to be one of the most stunning trails in the country which offers breathtaking views.

Hiawatha Trail, located in Idaho, is the perfect trail for those who love cycling as it features a smooth asphalt trail. Visitors would surely love the trail as it also offers stunning views of nature and evokes a calming atmosphere or feeling. The trail passes by the Bitterroot mountains and also features picnic stops for those who want to take a rest.

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One-stop destination for kayaks and stand-up paddle rentals and sales.

Kayak Coeur D’Alene is located at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. With multiple lakes around the city, North Idaho is the best place for kayaking. Kayak Coeur d’Alene rents kayaks, paddle boats, and float tubes. On order, the items are delivered to the vacation houses around the lake. Orders can be confirmed through emails or calls. The pickup facility of the rented equipment is also available at the end of the tour. While kayaking one can come across local wildlife of Idaho such as moose, bear, coyote, mountain goat, and bald eagles.

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Avid readers should check out the Coeur d’Alene Public Library where it houses diverse collections of books.

Coeur d’Alene Public Library, located in Idaho, is a reader’s dream come true as it is home to numerous books. It is known for its excellent library services and is committed to providing free and equal access to resources to promote lifelong learning. Visitors could easily spend hours at the library reading as the library’s atmosphere is peaceful and is conducive for learning and reading.

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A small museum that exhibits the rich history of the Coeur d’Alene Region.

Museum of North Idaho is located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, United States. It is a great place that reveals the history of Northern Idaho through photographs and artifacts. It showcases the features of Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the history of railroad, steamboats, recreation, and forest service in the area. Museum also has a great collection of regional books.

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Explore the high-quality work of native artists at The Art Spirit Gallery.

The Art Spirit Gallery is a fine art and craft gallery situated in Idaho. It features high-quality, original work by local artists. The 4,000 square foot gallery showcases artists with a unique voice and dedication to craft, materials, observation, and creativity. Also, the opening reception and Downtown Art Walks are undoubtedly enjoyable.

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Visit the one-of-a-kind Flamingo Motel where it is known for weird but cute flamingo sculptures on its lawn.

Flamingo Motel, located in Idaho, is the perfect place to stay when you are in the city. It is famous for the quality of its accommodations wherein they offer interesting furnishings and linens per room. Not only do they have good quality rooms but also offer cheaper accommodations compared to others.

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Coeur d’Alene Parasail is a parasailing adventure located in Idaho, United States.

Coeur d’Alene Parasail gives the chance of flying hundreds of feet over the lake and gives stunning views of Coeur d’Alene. This is fun and safe and landings and take-offs can be done from the boat. This adventure gives a calm and smooth experience to all who are not afraid of heights.

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Coeur d’Alene Inn Best Western offers one of the best accommodations in the city.

Visitors looking for great accommodations or places to stay should definitely try out the Coeur D’alene Inn Best Western. It is an inn located in Idaho where it features 122 well-maintained rooms at an affordable rate per night. The inn also has different amenities and facilities such as an indoor pool and a breakfast buffet.

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Coeur d’Alene Masonic Temple is considered to be a historical place known for its stunning architecture.

Visitors will surely love admiring and taking pictures of the Coeur d’Alene Masonic Temple which features one-of-a-kind architecture. The design of the building includes terra cotta and iron ornamentation which makes it more beautiful. There are also available exhibits inside where visitors could learn more about the building.

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Devin Galleries is one of America’s leading fine art galleries, and it’s located in a gorgeous resort neighborhood.

Devin Galleries, one of America’s best fine art galleries, is located in the lovely resort village of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Original paintings, bronze and stone sculpture, modern art glass, limited edition prints, wood, and ceramic vessels, jewelry, and more may be found at the downtown Coeur d’Alene gallery, which spans almost 7,000 square feet.

Visit to book a budget friendly trip!


Review: The Photography of Maura Z—An Ode to Gray

Over the past 20 years, with advances made in digital and phone cameras, many of us feel the best way to capture a scene is by taking a color photo. Most of us are led to believe that color photography not only provides better detail, but also helps capture the mood of a particular scene. But in the latest exhibition, Creation and Re-Creation in Shades of Gray at Everybody’s Coffee, Maura Z shows us how details as well as moods can better come to life in photography using various shades of gray.

This is Maura Z’s first solo exhibition and on display are 44 digital prints. All the images were captured with her digital camera and then later re-created through Photoshop where she stripped the photos to their barest poetic essence while also creating negative and positive space within her images.

Maura Z, Life Cycle. Digital print. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Although there is a muted quality to her work, the viewer is easily drawn to her images due to her mastery in composition—she effectively balances the amount of detail and space as well as highlights and shadows. The details in her photos are in many ways more vivid due to the absence of color—perhaps because our brain isn’t processing or being distracted by colors, we are forced to see the stark details within each image. Maura’s use of grey tones creates an ambience that evokes various moods that bring to mind the quote by the French author, André Gide, who once said, “The color of truth is gray.”

A number of her works act as visual haikus that create meditative moments. A good example of this is Daily Reflection (Portofino, Italy), that shows a body of water shimmering against the reflection of the sun. The dark tones of the water add a sense of depth and mystery to this scene. Another work that fits this mode is Life Cycle where we see a dying water lily. In this shot we are reminded of the natural decay that exists within nature while also making us aware that we are all taking part in the cycle of life and death.

Maura Z, Grassburst. Digital print. Photo courtesy of the artist.

There is also a whimsical aspect to her works, such as in Faeries’ Wings and Bubblies. When viewing these works, we cannot help but experience a sense of joy and a lightness of being. These works draw us into a state of mindfulness, inviting us to be in the present moment. These works not only allow us to appreciate the magic that exists within nature, but even more, to appreciate the subtle details that nature offers.

Maura’s works also express the majesty of various landscapes, such as in The Tree of Life, that shows a robust tree spreading its branches outward and upward toward the sky. And some of her images capture the raw energy of nature such as in Before the Deluge where we see foreboding clouds that gather before a storm or in Freshwater Collisions where we can feel the powerful movement of water.

Maura Z, Bubblies. Digital print. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Equally intriguing are a couple of her works that at first glance seem to be abstract without an immediate association with the physical world. She achieves this through her use of perspective, movement and light—transforming something ordinary into an unexpected and unrecognizable image.

“I want my work to remind people that they should stop and look around them and take the time to appreciate the beauty on this planet,” said Maura.  She also added, “Hopefully, someone’s perspective might change on how they see the world when looking at my work.”

What makes Maura Z’s work stand out is her unique combination of mechanical execution when taking a photo and her creative eye when re-creating photos through Photoshop. She also exhibits traits that other great photographers share such as having a sharp eye for detail, capturing a fleeting moment in time, and creating a mood that resonates within the viewer.

Creation and Re-Creation in Shades of Gray will be on display through January 5, 2023. Everybody’s Coffee is located at 935 W. Wilson. Hours: Monday thru Friday, 7am–2pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 8am–3pm. For more info, visit their website or call 773-303-6220.

Did you enjoy this post and our coverage of Chicago’s arts scene? Please consider supporting Third Coast Review’s arts and culture coverage by making a donation by PayPal. Choose the amount that works best for you, and know how much we appreciate your support!

Story Behind The Image “Riding the Wind” – Barger Nature Photography

Snowy Owl hovering overhead in strong gusty winds. Its wings are in the full downward position.

This image of a snowy owl was taken a couple of years ago in northern Ontario, Canada. During the summer breeding season, the snowy owls live in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. In winter some snowy owls migrate south, often into the United States. Snowy owls have been spotted here in southwestern Ohio.

Snowy owls can weigh as much as 6 pounds with a wing span of 4 feet. The adult males are pure white and the females are white with some dark feathers. To keep warm, they have a layer of down underneath many layers of feathers. They are extremely good judges of distance, have excellent hearing, and long black claws which aid their ability to hunt. Since their summer breeding grounds are above the Arctic Circle where there is 24 hours of daylight during this time of the year, snowy owls are not completely nocturnal. During winter they hunt during both the day and night depending on weather conditions and availability of their food source. They nest in the Arctic tundra and are attracted to open areas, which make it easier to photograph them.

The snowy owl’s migration habits during the winter months are dependent upon their food supply which consists mainly of lemmings and field mice. If their source of food is plentiful, there will be a sudden boom in the population of snowy owls that migrate south. This sudden boom is referred to as an irruption.

Even though the year the image in this post was taken would not be considered an irruption year, there was still a healthy population of females. It was easy to spot a snowy owl in a field perched on a fence post or on the ground, and then wait for the owl to take off. Scouting the area ahead of time was necessary to find the locations where the owls were frequently spotted. Since these locations were on private land and a quarter to half mile from the road, it would be necessary to hike a short distance to reach a good photographic distance without disturbing the owl. This would require gaining permission to access the private land from the owner. Scouting to find these locations and gaining access permission was done a day or two in advance.

The image seen in this post was taken on a day when weather conditions were extreme with freezing rain and gusting winds. The back of my down jacket, which was facing the wind, was covered in ice as were my camera and lens. The gusting wind made it impossible to place a rain cover over my equipment and continue to photograph. Most of the images were take hand-holding the camera and lens since it is easier to track a snowy owl in flight hand-holding the equipment rather than mounting on a tripod. Just as with airplanes, ice buildup on the wings of the owls spoils the flow of air over their wings making it difficult to fly. Only during brief periods when the freezing rain stopped would they try and it was obvious that it was challenging for them. They would stay in the air for only a few minutes not venturing far from their perch.

As is often the case, bad weather can produce great photographic opportunities. Due to the freezing rain and gusting wind, the owl’s ground speed was greatly reduced. This made it easier to concentrate on the position of their wings to produce some nice flight shots. The owl in this photograph was flying overhead close enough to me to obtain a frame filling image hand-holding my telephoto lens. I like the simplicity of this high-key image made possible by the bad weather co so I titled the image “Riding the Wind”.

Art In Nature : Home means Nevada!

At the beginning of this year I started my new position as assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. The last few months have been quite busy with starting up my lab, getting settled into our home, making new friends, etc. So, adventures have been a little infrequent. That said, Aubrey and I are really enjoying our new home and jumping off point. We’ve already had more great backcountry ski days than most other years, and it’s only February!

Last weekend some friends from Seattle came for a visit, hoping to escape snowmageddon. Of course, Reno welcomed them with larger than normal snow and unusually cold weather. We headed south to find a pocket of good (but cold) weather, enjoy some desert hot springs, and explore Nevada’s geology.

PS – the post title is a reference to our state song.

Sunrise over the fish lake hot springs with a view of the snowy white mountains.

Colorful mounds of volanic tuff are scattered across the mountain ranges of Nevada.

Our camp for the night. It was cozy and wind free in our red “hot hut”.

Modern desert truck art.

Tags: desert, hot springs, nevada

Marsel van Oosten: why scale is important

June 29, 2022

In his latest column for AP, top nature photographer Marsel van Oosten explains the importance of scale in pictures

When I was in art school, back in the late ’80s, I came into contact with the work of Caspar David Friedrich. He was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter who was known for placing contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or gothic ruins. His primary interest was the contemplation of nature.

This approach made such an impression on me that I started to introduce human elements into my landscape photography. At the time, very few landscape photographers did this, but it turns out that I was ahead of my time – scroll through Instagram and you’ll see that this has become the norm. Including a human or a wildlife element gives scale to the landscape.

The Grand Tsingys of Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar. Nikon Z 7, AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8, 1sec at f/11, ISO 100, FTZ mount adapter

Photographers often forget that viewers may not always know the location they have photographed, and may be unfamiliar with the scale of the rocks, trees or mountains.

I first became aware of this when I visited Arches National Park in Utah, USA. I love rock arches, so the park had been on my list for a long time and I had done extensive research. Near the top of my list was Turret Arch framed by North Window. I had seen a couple of photographs of this scene and decided I was going to try it differently and shoot it in winter, with snow.

In winter the park is more quiet and the light is much better. When I finally stood in front of North Window, I was blown away – what I thought was a small opening in a rock wall turned out to be massive. The reason for my misconception was that none of the images I had seen included a reference for scale. Seeing how big the window actually was in real life, I knew I had to include a human element to give a sense of scale.

Marsel van Oosten at work in the Tsingys of Madagascar

Doing this instantly made the image much more impressive, and more original. Not only that, it made it easier for the viewer to connect to the image, and it added a sense of adventure – all improvements on what I had seen before.

A few years ago, I was contacted by Nikon to take some prototypes of the Z 7 to a destination of my choice in order to discover and show how sharp their new mirrorless camera system was. I decided to test the camera in the sharpest landscape I knew… the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar. Tsingy is Malagasy for ‘where one cannot walk barefoot’ – that’s how sharp these unique forests of razor-sharp limestone pinnacles are.

Turret Arch framed by North Window, Arches National Park, Utah, USA. Nikon D3S, AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8, 1/320sec at f/11, ISO 200

I was aware that most people would not fully appreciate the size of this rugged landscape, so I decided to add a reference for scale: a climber. Not only did this result
in original images of this location but, without it, it would have been impossible to appreciate the grandeur of the landscape, and the image would have lacked the sense of adventure it has. During one of the CES trade shows in Las Vegas, Nikon used a 30ft wide enlargement of this image. Although I didn’t get to see it in person, Nikon sent me pictures that gave me a sense of how large they’d reproduced it.

As told to Steve Fairclough

Marsel van Oosten

Marsel van Oosten was born in The Netherlands and worked as an art director for 15 years. He switched careers to become a photographer and has since won Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Travel Photographer of the Year. He’s a regular contributor to National Geographic and runs nature photography tours around the world. Visit

Further reading

Marsel van Oosten: how to pre-visualise a photograph

Marsel van Oosten: making the most of bad weather

Marsel van Oosten: why planning is important in photography

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The Benefits of Nature Photography In Your Home

Benefits of Nature Photography in Your Home

Sure, a long hike or a weekend camping trip are great ways to unwind and escape reality for a little bit, but why bother with all the bugs or the blisters or the sunburn when you could bring nature to you? Imagine it — all that majesty and mystery and sunlight and water contained in your own personal portal hanging on your wall. All without ever leaving your home.

The driving rain on your windows can’t dampen the sunshine inside. Do you live in Arizona? Well, THIS is called snow. Imagine it falling gently in your living room. Whatever escape you’re looking for, you can have it — all it takes is the right hook to hang it on the wall. Of course there is no true replacement to being immersed in nature, but why limit yourself when you can have the best of both worlds?

Whether you’re looking for an excuse to bail on your next camping trip or not, displaying nature photography in your home can have a real impact on your overall health and mood. Nature photography has even been scientifically proven to have mental and physical health benefits. No more camping and an anxiety cure? Sounds like a dream come true.

You can almost hear the hush of the cool morning fog enveloping this tree lined driveway near Snoqualmie, Washington. Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

Fun Fact: Your Brain Doesn’t Know What’s Real

Apparently, your brain has the same reaction to looking at nature as it does to actually being in nature. While I feel a little guilty about playing this trick on my brain, what a cool shortcut to health and happiness, you know?

The fact of the matter is that people who live in cities and urban areas are 17% more likely to suffer psychological distress of some kind — anxiety, depression, the usual. You might be thinking you’re perfectly fine living your big city life, fulfilling your big city dreams. I’m sure you’re right. But like it or not, nature is absolutely mandatory in some capacity in order for our brains to function properly. We need it every once in a while to stay sane. Let’s face it, even New Yorkers — the definitive city-dwellers, if you will — live in a city that’s centerpiece is a huge park, meant to give them a much needed break from the high energy, high intensity lifestyle of the city.

There’s a reason why nature-based therapy is a real thing. Studies find that those who live in close proximity to nature have higher life satisfaction and a more positive outlook on life. Simply observing nature can improve productivity, concentration, and even limit the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. Nature scenes nourish our brains in ways that the city can’t; real or photograph simply doesn’t matter — our brains respond to these stimuli in the same rejuvenating way.

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 by Aaron Reed

Study after study show that nature lowers our stress levels and helps us feel happier. Why do you think we try to take so many activities that could be enjoyed indoors and move them outdoors? Most of us would much rather walk through a park than walk on a treadmill. I can shop at a big grocery store, but I’m much happier at a weekend farmers market in the square on an autumn afternoon.

The point is, your brain thrives when it gets a regular dose of nature. And when you can’t get out into nature as much as you might like, you might as well do the next best thing and surround yourself with it inside. Filling your home with nature photography will remind your brain of all the things it finds calming, rejuvenating, and healing about the outside world and trigger the same mental boost you might get from a tree-lined jog through the park — your attitude, your focus, and even your overall mental health will dramatically improve.

A beautiful autumn morning blanketed by fog inside the Kubota garden in Seattle, Washington. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Nature Literally Heals

Quick story time. In the early 1980s, a researcher visited a hospital in a small town in Pennsylvania. The patients in the wing he visited were all recovering from gallbladder surgery in identical rooms. The surgery was simple and most patients recovered in a week or two. However, the researcher started to wonder about what caused the “or two” part of the equation. What small differences made the recovery time vary from patient to patient?

The difference was this: some rooms on one side of the hospital faced a brick wall, while others had a view of a small stand of trees. Do you see where this is going? On average, the patients with the view of the lovely wall needed an extra day to recover before getting to go home. They were also more likely to be depressed during their stay and experienced more pain than their lucky, tree-viewing counterparts. Apart from the views, the rooms were identical. Their treatment was identical. The patients were all very similar. There was no explanation other than the differing views. The bottom line: the patients who had a view of nature literally recovered faster than those stuck looking at the brick wall.

A small patch of aspen trees displaying beautiful autumn foliage with red undergrowth located near Tumwater Canyon in Leavenworth, Washington. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Continued studies have found that natural environments routinely speed up the body’s ability to heal; even adding houseplants to your life can speed up the process. As pretty as that Spider Plant on your coffee table is, a houseplant can’t make you feel like you live at the base of a picturesque mountain or remind you of the babble of a tumbling waterfall every morning when you wake up. Nature photography can.

If you still need further convincing, the International Journal of Health Geographics released a study that showed that nature images even provided viewers with protection from having a stroke. Similarly, in areas with fewer trees, residents had a higher risk of stroke mortality. So, looking at nature images can literally save your life. And who doesn’t want to live longer and healthier? You might even say that investing in nature photography is an important investment in your health. Who needs health insurance or a low sodium diet when you’ve got some nicely framed trees? I really have your best interests at heart, here.

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 by Aaron Reed

All Jokes Aside

While I’m no scientist, I do experience the powerful impact of nature every single day when I head out to capture my next photograph. I know how nature makes me feel and I want to bring that to your home. I also believe in the long history of studies that have shown us the lasting impact of regularly viewing nature images and am proud to contribute to whatever benefits — health or otherwise — you might reap from owning my work.

More than anything, my goal is to show you views of our natural world in ways you’ve never seen them before. After all, displaying nature photography in your home gives you the opportunity to make believe you live anywhere in the world. And as we previously established, your brain can’t actually tell what’s real. So, if you fill your home with dramatic images of Iceland or the majestic mountains of Colorado… in a way, don’t you actually live there?

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Wild Beauty, from his Amazing Tree Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Skyfire, from his Newest Work Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Colorblast, from his Abstract Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Andre Donawa – Portrait of a Photographer

Blue Water Ridge

For many nature and landscape photographers, the need to travel to distant exotic locations is paramount to the process of being able to create a diverse body of work that has a lasting impact, surprise, and depth. Surely trips to Iceland, Patagonia, Tibet, the USA National Parks, Greenland, the Faroes, and Indonesia can yield some incredible photographs; however, what if your home is a 167-square mile island and you choose to never leave your island for photography?

Cousteau’s influence on Andre’s work is quite prevalent not only in subject but also in how “exploratory” it feels to the viewer.

Do you think you can muster what it takes to produce a body of work that is compelling, personally expressive, interesting, and creative? The subject of today’s essay, Andre Donawa, based on the island of Barbados – a country with a population of just 287,000, has set out to do just that – create a body of interesting landscape photography solely from his home island.

Andre’s photography origin story is not unlike many of our own – in 2012, he picked up the camera to take some photographs of food for his family restaurant and the magic of pressing the shutter just overtook him like a virus. Armed with a degree in biology, Andre revisited local haunts on his island with a fresh perspective through the camera. His early inspiration as a photographer was Jacques Cousteau, the famous oceanic explorer, filmmaker, and co-inventor of the modern-age SCUBA diving systems. Cousteau’s influence on Andre’s work is quite prevalent not only in subject but also in how “exploratory” it feels to the viewer. When I first came across Andre’s work, I was instantly transported to Barbados and visually invited to feast on the peculiarities of his discoveries on the coast and in the water of his island. To be perfectly frank, I was quite surprised I had not discovered his work sooner. Andre’s work is filled with personal expression and conveys a unique take on a place he has become quite familiar with.

Frangipani Skies

Certainly, a photographer can gain a tremendous advantage through the intimacy of place. Andre is no exception to this idea; however, I think below the surface (pun intended), there’s more to discover in his work. Through his imagery, I see a passionate familiarity with the subject that enriches his photographs and exudes creativity and conveys a subtle playfulness. I strongly believe that revisiting familiar locations and subjects repeatedly, while potentially boring on the surface, can force a photographer to develop a long-term relationship that will eventually yield more creative work that feels personal and expressive to the photographer (and viewer!)

The advantage of this approach is that one never truly gets tired of making images, and there is always a new challenge to explore with a familiar friend in the landscape. I have done this myself with mountain and autumn photography in Colorado, and I never grow tired of engaging with these places every single year with fresh eyes. Andre’s approach is one to take note of. I encourage other photographers to implement something similar in their own work – either through revisiting the same locations or by photographing the same subjects. The results will come over time.

Through his imagery, I see a passionate familiarity with the subject that enriches his photographs and exudes creativity and conveys a subtle playfulness.

Magic in the Mud

One aspect of Andre’s work that I have come to personally enjoy as a viewer is his wave photography, which seems to convey a multitude and range of emotions and states of being, from happy, excited, nervous, and curious. It is hard to believe that photographing waves and wave patterns from your home island can express such a wide range of emotions and feelings, but Andre has pulled it off! I’ve also come to enjoy his more intimate work that showcases interesting smaller scenes found on his coast, including stairs that seem to lead to nowhere, to a shoreline filled with a wonderful colour story and juxtaposition of the subject.

I would be remiss not to talk about two of his images that immediately struck me. The first is a visual power ballad of complexity and emotional impact showcasing massive crashing waves over a smaller wave. I was dumbfounded upon first seeing the photograph. The second is a very fascinating image of an oceanic sunset or sunrise that features waves and a wonderful colour palette.

The Great Wave

Waves of Summer

These unique and expressive images are generally only obtainable when a photographer has a very good understanding of his or her subject and has an energetic attitude towards it. I highly encourage you to think about what subjects or situations create the same in your own photography and to focus more of your energy and attention on that thing because the result will undoubtedly be an improvement in the overall impact and quality of your work. The trick is that it takes time and commitment to keep going back repeatedly, but the payoff is monumental, in my opinion.

If Andre’s work interests you, I encourage you to take a look at his book, Edge of Bim, which features photographs all captured from his island of Barbados over a 3-year period.

If Andre’s work interests you, I encourage you to take a look at his book, Edge of Bim, which features photographs all captured from his island of Barbados over a 3-year period.

These are the types of personal projects that inspire me, and I hope that it does you as well.

If you enjoyed this article and want to listen to my conversations with other great artists, consider subscribing to my podcast, “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen,” on your favourite podcatching application.

Do you know someone you feel has yet to be discovered and should be featured here? Send me an e-mail – I look forward to hearing from you.

Kenyan wins wildlife photography award

 2022 Mkapa Awards photo. (Courtesy)

Anthony Onyango is the 2022 Mkapa Awards Conservation Heroes winner. He will take home a grand prize award of $5,000 (Sh607,000), and a large, specially-commissioned stone elephant sculpture.

The winner was announced at a ceremony and exhibition held at the Kenya National Museum in Nairobi last week.

This year’s competition, which was organised by African Wildlife Foundation and Nature’s Best Photography attracted 9,500 entries from 57 countries including entrants from 16 African countries.

The competing categories include: African Conservation Heroes, Coexistence and Conflict, African Wildlife at Risk, Fragile Wilderness, African Wildlife Behavior, African Wildlife Portraits, Africa’s Backyard Wildlife, Art in Nature, Creative Digital, Mobile, Africa in Motion/Video, and two Youth Photographers of the Year, one inside Africa and one international.

Each of the category winners will receive $1,000 (Sh121,000) and a stone elephant sculpture.

The 77 prints and four videos shortlisted for various prizes will travel to other global locations throughout the year. In addition, all winners’ photographs will be displayed in large-format prints and high-definition video, along with Highly Honoured finalists at the museum in Nairobi through February 2023.

AWF chief executive Kaddu Sebunya said the competition and other strategic partnerships will help define and refine the African conservation agenda for development through these voices.

The awards are named in honour of the late former Tanzanian President, H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, for his dedication to conservation education throughout Africa, and his impactful support of AWF programmes across the continent.

“Nature photography goes beyond just taking a picture but informing and inspiring people to protect nature. It is truly an honour to be among the winners this year and it is a testament that we Africans have what it takes to emerge among the best,” Onyango said after receiving the award.


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