Alex Noriega’s latest creation, Pourin’ One Out, was not just the top landscape photo on 500px today, which is quite a feat in and of itself, but the absolute top photo overall. It topped out at an otherworldly 99.8 on the 500px scale.
But, frankly, that’s nothing new for Alex. His photos routinely top the charts on 500px. Almost all of them score a 99 or better. That probably explains why he has over 10,000 followers.
Alex has a leg up on many of us since he is based in Portland Oregon, and spectacular scenery is within reach. But it is his use of light that sets him apart from other photographers. A look through his photos shows great lighting conditions in virtually all of them. Pourin’ One Out is no exception.
How He Took This Photo
Here are the basic settings for this photo:
Shutter Speed: 1/20 second
Focal Length: 26 mm
It looks very much like he set his ISO at the lowest native setting, then set his aperture to create a large depth of field. After that, he just set his shutter speed wherever it needed to go to obtain a proper exposure. No doubt he was using a tripod, so the shutter speed did not matter much.
But none of that tells the story.
This photo is all about the lighting. It would be average at best if taken at midday, or even at sunset on another day. But he caught this one with a great soft light. It has a peaceful air to it.
This photo wasn’t created under the best of circumstances. Alex explains that “we were coming up to pour out a drink for our photographer friend that recently passed away (hence the title).” He had no expectations of a great photo, and in fact already had a shot he liked from the same spot as this picture. He went on to explain that “conditions turned out alright! Turns out Mt. Hood looks good in golden light in its summer coat.”
Before we get to Alex’s tip, his explanation by itself contains two tips for us. First, have a camera with you when possible, as you never know when conditions will be right. Photography was not the primary intent behind this trip up the mountain, so he could have easily left the camera behind. Bringing it resulted in a great picture though.
Second, just because you’ve got a shot from a given location, keep in mind that you might be able to improve upon it. Alex had photographed from this location before. Lots of us might have skipped the shot since we had already taken it.
Top Tip for Those Starting Out
When asked what tip he would give photographers just starting out, Alex says to “copy others.”
That might seem counter-intuitive. In fact, Alex acknowledges that most advice that new photographers will received will be to find your own style, but, he points out “that takes time.” So his advice is to:
“Study the images of photographers you admire, and learn what exactly it is about those images that you like by replicating them. Eventually, you’ll form your own style via a mixture of these influences.”
More About Alex Noriega
Alex is a full-time professional photographer based in Portland Oregon. He offers post-processing instruction and also runs workshops. You can find out more about Alex Noriega and by inspired by his photography at his website.