I was on my way to a special river access in Maine for mist rising off the river one Autumn, and, running a little late, rushed past this pond along the way. Nothing was happening at that moment, except mist rising off it – no color. By the time I got to the river, and saw that there wasn’t enough mist on it, I had so little time to race back to work this pond! I parked the car and ran down to the edge, cameras flapping along my side, tripod dangling from one hand…you get the picture, and it was a messy view of a pro! But things happen like that at times, when the conditions don’t give you enough at your planned destination, but you realize ”wait! I just drove past my picture” – and have to race to get in to position. So there I was, with dawn’s color burning into the canvas above the hill, reflecting off the still waters with mist rising. The picture below was the first one I made, working to capture some of the magic, but as pretty as it was, I wasn’t satisfied with the ‘flatness’ of the depth in it. So I quickly looked around for something to put in my foreground, to give the viewer some way to enter into that lovely scene and create some visual depth. I found this rock, just off shore, with the grasses lining the edge of the pond. It was a better picture. I had to work quickly to capture dawn’s colors, at this point, and it was all over too quickly that morning, but I was happy. I had found two different approaches to interpret a beautiful scene.
When you’re out there, you want to ask yourself questions to find the most creative viewpoint of your scene. It helps to make different compositions, to work the scene, – only practicable when you’re not racing against the dawn light! But the more you practice this approach, the more prepared you are with ideas when time’s critical. This is the kind of thing that I’ll be teaching in my Iceland workshop, in July 2011, when we’re working with large, dramatic landscapes with changing light.
This is a very familiar story. Running to get a planned shot and passing up a potential shot.. It is always hard to know what to do. Go with the plan or improvise and mabe miss the great planned shot. If you are lucky (and skilled) you get to make the dash back like you did and come out with great images. As you noted practice gives you the skill to run with the changes in light.
Take care and more good luck!
Love the colors here. I usually end up with photos that look like the second shot, which I like well enough, but the first really does have more depth. A good lesson for all of us.
Thanks, Andy, for your comments.
Thank you, Simone. I photograph in daylight white-balance so that what I see is what I’ll get. I photograph in RAW, though, so I could have set it for anything and then changed it later. Sometimes, I’ll use the cloudy settings in the field to see if I like that better, it’s more ‘real-time’ that way, but most often it’s just set for daylight. If you are photographing in jpeg modes, you really want to change your white balance in the field, so you get the results you want and don’t have to make that change to the jpeg later one.
The colors are awesome and I agree with you the rock on the foreground changes everything, giving the image the depth that is lost on the other photo. It really expires me.
Was the WB on your camera set to cloud or shade?? Just a curiosity.
I really like the first shot better. The rock gives my eye the anchor it needs to put me in the scene.
I agree Robert. It’s the visual stepping stone that you often need in a landscape to pull the viewer in. Thanks for your thoughts.
The boulder in the first picture looks artificial. It looks like you placed it there. Did you?
No way, Joseph – it’s about the size of a volksagen beetle if you count the part under water. I photograph what I see, and find the best position I can for what’s already there. I might move a leaf out or in in a macro image, to help with composition, in the landscape I’m not into moving things around.