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?”
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There are some places you have to see to believe, experience to begin to understand – Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls,… Photographs don’t begin to capture the feelings you have. Big Sur is such a place.
Big Sur is a 100 mile stretch of the California coast that has no competition for sheer grandeur anywhere on the West Coast. Henry Miller claimed it was the way the Creator intended the world to be.
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds are the towering Santa Lucia mountains that plunge headlong into the blue Pacific Ocean. And there’s no doubt, this is what characterizes Big Sur. The mountains in some places are a mile high and drop to the sea in only two miles. Statistics – interesting but they don’t begin to convey the feeling you have in your stomach when driving the Cabrillo Highway, the two lane road that clings to the cliffs, snaking its way from San Simeon in the south to Carmel-by-the-Sea in the north.
Wherever you have such a precipitous coastline you’ll find plenty of cliffs into which the surf endlessly crashes. You can experience calm seas like the photograph above. After all it is the Pacific. Or you can get a little more action.
Continue reading “Why I Love Big Sur” »
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