National Geographic Travel associate producer and photographer Tyler Metcalfe recently found himself in Montana, tasked with capturing the vast state and all it holds. Here he shares how to use your vantage point to your advantage.
Last month I set out to photograph a road-trip experience in the north-central region of Montana—an area entirely different from the mountain-covered region in the western half of the state. For the first few days of my assignment, I saw nothing but wide-open rolling plains, with few landmarks in view. It was on the third day that I dipped down into a dramatic valley near the Upper Missouri River and arrived at Sky View Guest Ranch. Here, I needed to tell the story of what it might feel like to go horseback riding in this place. For two days I was able to explore the seemingly endless acres of land on horseback, led by my wonderful hosts Kevin and Raynee. On the first day we stayed close to the ranch, cutting through tall, grassy fields, and I photographed my guides jumping logs, running around hay barrels, and wading through small ponds. Though I was able to grab a handful of good images from the ride, I knew I needed a photograph that would depict the vastness of the land and illustrate the sense of exploration available here. In order to do that, I would need to gain a high vantage, so on the second day we rode up into the hills, beyond the view of the ranch. With this vantage I was able to see sweeping views across the countryside and captured an image that beckons a viewer to explore.
Photo Tip: Gain a higher vantage to add depth to your images. Had I taken a similar shot from farther down the valley, the sense of scale and depth here would have been lost. With this image, your eye starts first with the two riders in the foreground, moves down the trail to the second set of riders, and arrives at the bottom of the valley, where the land looks open and endless.
Metcalfe photographed with a Canon EOS6D and a 24-70mm, f/2.8L II USM lens.
Follow Tyler Metcalfe on Instagram @tylermetcalfe.