Posts Tagged ‘balance’
When you get up early and leave at 4:30 in the morning for a sunrise shoot there are no guarantees. You pick a location that has potential and, by getting out so early, you up the potential for great light. It might, and then it might not happen. But you’re out there anyway.
When you arrive, the desert is still dark. You stand by your car, talking quietly with friends, sipping hot coffee and watching the emerging light on the eastern horizon. There is a sense of eagerness balanced with patience. Often, however, just being there is its own reward and coming home with a keeper is icing on the cake.
The earth brightens quickly this time of day and soon you grab your gear and head out into the desert. For me, just wandering and not looking for anything in particular is the best approach.
I prefer to let images come to me rather than hunting them down. When something I see stops me in my tracks, these turn out to be the best photographs. It’s not because I’m searching for leading lines or applying the rule of thirds or any other of the many ‘rules’ of composition. I don’t like to think when I’m photographing; I prefer to become quiet and simply experience. And when I’m in that state of mind I stop in my tracks because it just feels right. And the stop is usually followed closely by an utterance of surprise and joy – “Oh Wow!”.
Such was the case with “Sheep Pass Morning.” The morning shoot was winding down, meaning the sunrise had come and gone and the wonderful golden hour light was quickly fading. I wandered aimlessly and “Boom,” there it was. I was excited. This just felt right. And yes, I did say, “Oh wow!”
I set up my camera and composed the shot. I was conscious of the cluster of rocks in the lower right corner and their relationship with the Joshua trees on the right edge. I was conscious of outcrop of rocks on the left, the mountain range in the background (Queen Mountain) and the clouds. All these elements were in my mind but mostly I was seeking balance and harmony. During that time, distant Queen mountain into shadow so I waited for the light to came back, cheering it along. Then the moment came and I tripped the shutter.
Continue reading “Making a Photograph – Sheep Pass Morning (2016)” »
Tags: balance, golden hour, harmony, Joshua Tree National Park, Lightroom, Nik, PhotoShop, Queen Valley, sheep pass, Silver Efex Pro, sunrise
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It is often said that there are no ‘rules’ of composition. And yet, there they are – Rule of Thirds, Golden Rule, Leading Lines, S-Curves, Layers, Off Center, Symmetry, Perspective, Lines of all sorts and on and on. And why is it that when so many fellow photographers comment on one of your photographs they comment about the rules of composition and not what the image expresses? In fact, most books and courses on composition begin by stating that there are no rules of composition before launching into an exhaustive analysis of, yep, the rules of composition. And of course, it’s not fashionable to refer to the rules of composition as rules anymore because ‘there are no rules of composition.’
And yet we diligently study them all the same.
Continue reading ““There Are No Rules of Composition”” »
Tags: balance, composition, Edward Weston, leading lines, rule of thirds. golden rule, rules of composition, unity, visual tensioin
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There are many rules of composition. I know people don’t like to use the term rules and for good reason. If you treat these rules as if they are hard and fast you can end up with compositions that are mechanical. So I prefer to call them ‘principles of composition.’ Now I’ve said before that composition is a problem solving endeavor. That is, you have been inspired by what lies before you, you have connected with it and you have an idea of what you want to say. And one of the key elements in communicating your message is the composition you choose. There is generally a point where this becomes very much of a problem solving effort, meaning it can get very analytical. And while the analysis may be important if not essential, it can cloud aesthetic considerations. Take for example this photograph of dawn in the Little Lakes Basin up Rock Creek in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
I was drawn to this Lodgepole Pine growing from a cleft in the granite above the lake. I gave a lot of thought to this composition and compositional principles came very much into play. The way I saw it, the two key elements were the tree and the lake. I didn’t think of the peaks in the distance as being a key element although I knew they were important. And I was aware of the lake as a leading line the drew the eye to them. I placed the tree on the right 1/3 line so that it wouldn’t block the lake. And I enjoyed the wonderful alpenglow as I captured a few images through the final minutes of civil twilight. Then I wandered off looking for other photographs. But later, after the sun came up I was drawn back to this tree and saw it completely differently.
Continue reading “Mastering Composition – Balance” »
Tags: alpenglow, balance, California, composition, Little Lakes Basin, Lodgepole Pine, photo workshops, photography, photography workshop, Rock Creek, rule of thirds, rules of composition, Sierra Nevada Mountains
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Composition is one of the four pillars of a strong landscape photograph (See Making a Photograph – The Four Pillars). There are many approaches to mastering composition and certainly countless excellent books on the topic. Many books discuss the elements of design and how they relate to composition – line, shape, form, texture, pattern and color. Others go into the various rules of composition – rule of thirds, golden rule, leading lines, near / far, layers, frames, etc.
All of these rules or principles are very analytical and, I think, are necessary and useful building blocks. Often creating a strong composition is very much of a problem-solving endeavor. But in the end I believe the goal of the composition is to support what the artist wants to communicate through the image. And this comes more from compositions that just feel right, not ones that are mechanically created from the rules. That’s not to say that one is not aware of these principles as the composition is being worked out. Rather these principles are like words in a sentence. They are carefully chosen so that the sentence as a whole communicates the author’s message. There are several techniques that lead us to this goal. And one of them is to ask yourself, ‘’”What am I photographing?”
Continue reading “Mastering Composition – What?” »
Tags: balance, Big Sur, blue, coast, color, composition, cool, design, form, hue, isolate, landscape, leading line, line, pacific, pattern, photograph, photography, rule of thirds, Salmon Falls, shape, simplify, texture, warm, waterfall, workshop
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As I drive across the Mojave Desert late one Thursday night not long ago, heading north on I-15, I have a sense of harmony, of unity with the night, the highway, my car. The pavement ahead eases into the beam of my headlights, grows brighter as it draws closer and then slips back into darkness as it slides underneath. Nights like this are a joy. I’m in a groove, a state of calm serenity and anticipation. Tomorrow I’ll be returning to Zion National Park, something I always look forward to. I didn’t notice the faint flashes of light.
Powerful thunderstorms were roiling over eastern California and southern Nevada that night, The dark clouds glowed with flickers of light and precious water dropped on the parched desert. it was a huge storm and I was chasing it. Approaching the state line the casino lights of Prim were reflected, bright and shimmering, on what is normally a dry lake bed. A half hour later as Las Vegas finally came into view, the glitz and glamor of the gaudy hotels was dwarfed by the grandeur of bolts of lightning streaking for miles across the turbulent sky.
The following morning workers were cleaning up after the storm but it hadn’t fully passed. Storm clouds still blanketed the sky for the remainder of the journey to Zion. A detour to Kolob Terrace to check the aspens was, I suppose, inevitable. The falling snow up in the high country was a surprise. And a delight. Sunrise the next morning was looking promising.
The best location in Zion that gets the full sunrise treatment is West Temple. I’ve photographed it many times but never got anything that I was excited about. The most popular location to shoot from is the ‘patio’ behind the museum but on this morning I chose a less visited one – the 2nd switchback on Tunnel Road. The expectation of clearing storm clouds, the choice of shooting locations – everything worked out just right.
Continue reading “The Making of a Photograph – Clearing Storm, West Temple 2012” »
Tags: action, adjustment, adjustments, Also, Altar, Another, anticipation, article, attention, background, balance, black, California, Canyon, casino, Click, cliffs, clouds, collaboration, color, comments, conversation, desert, detour, drama, eons, events, excitement, expectation, Facebook, feelings, files, finale, Flickr, foreground, friends, glamor, glory, grandeur, harmony, highway, image, images, imagination, inspirations, Join, Kolob, lake, layer, Level, life, Lightroom, lights, LinkedIn, links, location, locations, masterpiece, midst, Mojave, moment, mood, National, needs, Nevada, paper, Park, patio, perspective, photograph, PhotoShop, Prim, qualities, remainder, result, Road, Sacrifice, selection, shadows, silhouette, silhouettes, storm, strength, subject, Sundial, sunrise, Sure, temperature, Temple, Terrace, times, Tint, treatment, Tunnel, understatement, Vegas, Vibrance, viewer, walls, West, workers, workshop, Zion
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A friend asked me if I’d do a blog on the making of the photograph I took of the Virgin River during the Zion National Park photography workshop in 2011. He’s a good friend and it’s a nice photograph so let’s do it. Here’s the end result. (You can click on each of the photographs to enlarge them and get a better look.)
And here’s what it started from.
The difference is obviously pretty dramatic so there will be a few things to talk about. We’ll start with what I was experiencing in the field and take it all the way through the darkroom to the end product. So let’s get started.
Continue reading “The Making of a Photograph – Virgin River 2011” »
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Posted in Composition, Expoure, How To Articles, Light, Lightroom, Making a Photograph, Photography as Art, Photoshop | Comments (2)
I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to what goes in to making a great landscape photograph. It turns out there are four things, four pillars if you will. Four, that’s a good number. There are the four legs of a table or the four wheels of a car. And not to forget the four sacred directions of the Native Americans.
In landscape photography the four pillars are evenly divided between the aesthetics and the technical. So what are they? The two aesthetic pillars are Fantastic Light and Strong Composition. No surprise there. The two technical pillars are Appropriate Sharpness and Optimum Exposure. No surprise there either. If just one of those pillars is missing, well, the table collapses, the image suffers.
Let’s look at them one by one….
(click on the images to enlarge them)
Joshua Tree Spring Sunrise (2011)
Continue reading “Making a Photograph – The Four Pillars” »
Tags: Aperture, balance, border patrol, cloudy, color, composition, constrast, cool, f/stop, fine art, focal distance, focal length, focus, golden hour, grad nd filter, graduated neutral density filter, HDR, High Dynamic Range, histogram, hyperfocal distance, light, luminance, mid-day, midday, open shade, overcast, photography, rule of thirds, shadows, sharpness, tonality, twilight, unity, visual tensioin, warm
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