natural design cover

natural design

Purchase Natural Design

Buy Now

I use PayPal as a secure, trusted e-commerce solution but you do not need to sign up with them to pay with your credit card. Before purchase, please read the PURCHASE DETAILS PAGE

(names withheld for customer privacy)


Natural Design: Image Design for Nature Photographers was selected as required reading for Bob Boner's digital photography course at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. I was thrilled to learn this news, as well as beaming proud of this my life's work. Following is a quote from Bob's wonderful email notifying me of this great honor:

"I was so impressed with your ebook, that I made the students in my January Term photography class buy it as one of the textbooks in the course. It is one of the few books I have seen that focus on composition, and that is the weakest point in beginning photography students. I expect to require it as one of the textbooks again next year."
- Bob Boner, McDaniel College

Also taught at the University of Tennessee, Nashville

More Quotes

"I first saw your book on Arthur Morris blog, back in August 2011. I decided to buy it, and I'm very happy I did. It is excellent..I am a very visual person, so the fabulous composition maps make the concepts easy to understand. As this book has helped me out tremendously, I would like to buy your new book Composition Maps (with Arthur Morris)."

" I found your website and am so grateful to you for writing what I am sure will become my favourite and most useful book ever. It is EXACTLY what I was looking for."

"... I ordered your beautiful Natural Design e-book back in mid-June and think you'd taken e-book publishing to a new high."

" ... one of the best I’ve seen for photographic composition and design.  I especially find the various maps very useful. "

"The book IS great! After I get my chores done today, I will find a quiet, shady spot and bury myself in its pages."

"Wow, great book worth the wait!"

"I received the download and it is the most beautifully designed
e-book I’ve purchased – ever!"




Chapter One: Design in Nature Photography
The Visual Language 12
The Importance of Learning Design 13
Demystifying Composition 14
Communicating without Words 15

Chapter Two: Nature Photography in American History
The Camera in Nature 17
    Early Cameras 17
    The Hand Camera 18
    The Digital Camera 20
Pioneers and Conservationists 21
    Composing the American Landscape 22
    Nature Photography as an Important Art 24
        Ansel Adams: A Force in Nature 24
            The Greatest Assignment 25
            The Zone System 25
        Eliot Porter’s Passions 25

Chapter Three: The Visual Experience
Approaching the Photographic Image 27
Response to Unfamiliar Art and Styles 28
Beauty in Nature Photography 29
Is it Art? 31
Reading Photographs 33
Evaluating a Photograph 34
    Artist’s Intent 34
    Emotional Impact 35
    Evaluating the Light 36
    Structure 37
    Execution 38
    Advanced Evaluation 39
    Evaluation of Wildlife Photographs: 40
    Evaluating Black and White Photographs 41

Chapter Four: The Photographic Experience
The Art of Observation 43
More than Seeing 45
Preparedness in the Field 45
Organizing the Composition 46
Developing a Personal Style 47
Individual Expression 48
Photograph it Well 49
Evaluating Your Progress 50
Evaluating Your Photographs 50

Chapter Five: Considerations for Purpose
Horizontal or Vertical format 51
Final Format 53
    Contrast 53
    Sharpness 53
    Mood 53
        Examples 54
Visualizing the Composition 55


Chapter Six: The Physical Photograph
The Frame 56
Image Divisions 56
Edges 56

Chapter Seven: Designing the Tangibles
Subject Matter 58
    Define Subject Matter 58
    Treatment of Subject Matter 59
    The Main or Solitary Subject 60
    Proximity and Size 60
        Lens Selection 61
        Distance to Subject 61
    Positioning the Main Subject 62
        Centering the Subject for Emphasis 62
        Exaggerated Subject Placement 63
    Unwanted Objects in the Scene 64
Focal points 66
    Focal Points and Balance 66
    Focal Points and a Visual Path 66
    Multiple Main Focal Points 66
Lines 67
    Straight lines 67
    Vertical lines 67
    Horizontal lines 67
    Diagonal lines 67
    Converging and diverging lines 69
    Arcs and semi-circles 69
    Zig-zags and odd-shaped lines 69
    Curved lines 69
    Groups of lines 69
    Repetitive lines 71
    Suggested or Implied Lines 71
    Creating fluidity, movement and motion with lines 71
    Using lines to create a sense of movement 72
    Tension Created by Lines 72
Shape and Form 72
    Shapes and Forms as Structural Elements 72
    Texture of Forms 73
    Spatial Organization and the Relationships of Forms and Shapes 73
    The Emotional Effects of Shapes and Forms 73
    Shapes and Forms and Balance 74
    Forms, Shapes and Movement 75
    Forms, Shapes and Unity 75

Chapter Eight: Designing the Intangibles
Light 77
    Light’s Role in Photography 77
    The Sun’s Trek Through the Sky 77
    The Effects of the Sweet Light 78
    Indirect Light and Partial Light 79
    Light from the Sun and Moon 79
     Reflections 80

    Shadows 80
    Direction of Light 81
        Front Light 81
        Sidelight 81
        Backlight 81
        Top Light 81
Photographing the Effects of Weather 83
    Clouds 83
    Fog 86
    Rain 87
    Rainbows 87
High-key and Low-key Images 88
Using Flash 88
Color 88
    Color Associations 89
    Choose Colors to Influence and Create Mood 89
    Basic Color Terminology 90
        Color 90
        Hue 90
        Value 90
        Saturation 90
        Analogous Hues 91
        Monochromatic 91
        Gradations 91
        Complimentary Colors 91
        Contrasting Colors 91
        Neutrals 91
    Color Continuity 92
    Creating Color Harmony 92
    The Perceived Weight of Colors 93
Space and Depth 93
    Negative Space 93
    Perspective 94
        The Picture Plane 94
        Line of Sight 94
        The Ground Plane 95
            Foreground 95
            Middleground 95
            Background 95
Achieving Visual Balance 97
    Using The Rule-of-Thirds Grid 97
    Using Symmetry 98
    The Perceived Weight of Objects 99
Angles and Height 100

Chapter Nine: Considerations for our Natural Subjects
Allow Subject Room to Move 101
Strive to Capture the Face 101
Using Natural Frames 102
Anticipating Action and Behavior 102
Animal Portraits 102
Eye Highlights 103
People in Nature 103
Field and Wildlife Ethics 104

Chapter Ten: Popular Composition Styles
Bulls-eye Composition 106
Showcase 106
Near-Far 107
Layers 107
Large-Scale Landscape 108
Close-up 108
Abstract 108


Chapter Eleven: Composition Maps
Map 1: Value Distribution and Shapes 110
Map 2: The Rule of Thirds Grid 111
Map 3: Focal Points and Visual Paths 112
Map 4: Harmonious Image Division 113
Map 5: Off-center Placement 114
Map 6: Balancing Main Focal Points 115
Map 7: Structure and Content Image Division 116
Map 8: Cradle the Subject 117
Map 9: Cool vs. Warm Hues 118
Map 10: Head and Shoulders Portrait 119
Map 11: Frame the Subject 120
Map 12: Framing and Subject Placement 121
Map 13: Visual Anchor and Natural Frame 122
Map 14: Centering and Concentric Lines 123
Map 15: Define Subject Matter 124
Map 16: Layers 125
Map 17: Competing Focal Points 126
Map 18: Visual Flow 127
Map 19: Visual Tension 128
Map 20: Distractions 129
Map 21: Subject Confusion 130
Map 22: Compare Compositions 131
Map 23: Organize Basic Elements 132
Map 24: Color Schemes 133
Map 25: Framing with Foliage 134


Selected Sources



Fine Art Nature Photographers to Study

Nature Photography Legends

Online Photography Resources


Natural Design was formatted for accelerated comprehension through computer/mouse interactivity.

The 25 composition maps (try the sample below) were created in the "flip-book" style where you toggle between map and original photo. This is a very effective and fast way to learn the concepts in this book. Without the use of acetate transparencies, you simply cannot get this feature in a traditionally printed book. In addition, no paper or trees were wasted in the creation and distribution of this paperless document.

SAMPLE COMPOSITION MAPS (25 in total) (Click and hold map to see what happens)

composition diagram

More Sample Maps (examples only)

COMPOSITION MAP 1 COMPOSITION MAP 2composition map 3 composition map screen shot 4


Visit the Purchase Page or go Back to Top

site designed and maintained by Gloria Hopkins. All work copyright protected.