Getting up close and personal with a wide-angle lens is a great way to play with perspective in a photograph. Placing the camera close to your foreground element, in the case of the image above, the “giant” boulder made nice foreground element.
In reality, that “giant” boulder in the foreground is only slightly larger than a soccer ball. Setting up my tripod in the water so the camera was only about 12″ (30cm) from the rock rendered it quite large in the frame.
Another way to manipulate perspective is to use a telephoto lens to compress the scene. Using my 70-200mm lens I was able to create the illusion that the mountain ridges in the above image are much closer together than they are.
Another benefit of using a telephoto lens in landscape photography is the ability to isolate a small part of the wider view. The result you’re left with in an image that focuses more on shape and line than the grand scenic views. Though the below image does a bit of both
Since I first picked up a camera in the spring of 2008 I’ve traveled all over the state of New Hampshire making pictures.
Here are a few of the things I’ve found abandoned along the way.
The 2:3 Curse.
Most digital cameras capture images in a 2:3 ratio. Quite often though that ratio of height to width isn’t going to work to give you the best representation of the scene you’re trying to photograph. That’s why cropping is such a great tool.
For me the crop is an invaluable creative tool for achieving the optimal composition. After I’ve uploaded my files to the computer, I’ll regularly play with various crops to see if there is one that really works well. And like most, my cropping is done after the fact, in the computer, when I see the possibility of a stronger composition than the one the original capture provided.
Lately though I’ve been cropping in my head before I ever press the shutter. With a little vision, or pre-vision, I’ve started looking for the best composition within a scene. Better than the one the camera is going to capture, no matter how I frame the shot.
Sometimes, when I’m composing a photograph there is just too much extra “stuff” in the frame, and due to the available shooting position, or the subject itself, I’m unable to eliminate the extra “stuff” at the time of capture. And as a result the photographs aren’t as strong as they could be. Here is where the mental cropping comes into play.
Take these two photos of Glen Ellis Falls in northern New Hampshire.
Actually it’s the same photo twice.
The one on the left is the entire scene as my camera saw it, the one on the right is the final image I envisioned, having mentally cropped it before I pressed the shutter.
For me the one on the right is a much stronger image due to the exclusion of most of the darker cliff on the right, as well as some of the stream on the lower right. Also, since this is a rather tall and narrow waterfall, the tall and narrow crop emphasizes its height as well as my low POV and the great texture in the foreground ice.
There are also times when there isn’t enough “stuff.”
Have you ever gone out for a sunrise hoping for just the right amount of clouds in the sky to reflect the glow from the rising sun?
Only to find once you arrive that the clouds aren’t where you wanted them to be.
Pretty inconsiderate of them, right?
Well rather that walk away thinking you’re not going to get the photo you wanted, this is a great time to mentally crop out that lack of “stuff.”
Here are two versions of a photograph I made along Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine.
In the original image the clouds were too far off shore towards the horizon, leaving too much empty sky near the top of the frame.
I wasn’t entirely happy with the way the above photo was going to turn out, but since I knew I was going to be cropping out most of that empty sky for the final image, I pressed the shutter and moved on.
Here is the final image.
(I also decided on B&W for the final image, but that’s a story for another time)
In the end, you still have to crop the photo in the computer, but think of how much post processing time you’ll save knowing exactly how you’re going to crop before you’ve even uploaded the photos to your computer.
In an effort to remove all doubt, here are a few more frozen treasures to feast your eyes on.
Some of you know how I came to find a camera in my hands, many do not.
Here’s my story.
Unlike a lot of photographers, photography was never my “Thing.” I hadn’t been shooting for decades, born with a camera in my hands, lamenting the loss of film. To me film was pretty much a dinosaur from the past. Sure I’ve heard about it, even seen it before, but as far as I was concerned it belonged right next to the dinosaurs in a museum.
Digital was well established by the time I started looking for my first camera, so that’s the way I wanted to go. I was on a budget, and not having to pay for film processing was a huge draw.
Back in ’07-’08, I had a brief, expensive but brief, interest in astronomy. I had my own big(read lots of $$) telescope, and all the fancy gear that went with it. Looking through all the astronomy magazines I started thinking, “I could get some of those awesome photos through my telescope too.” So off in search of a camera I went. I figured I should at least get a camera that I could use to take snap-shots too, as opposed to a dedicated astro-imaging camera, a little box with a sensor in it that needed to be hooked up to a computer while taking photos. Something a little more practical.
I didn’t want a point and shoot though, had to be a DSLR. And since two friends were Canon shooters, I became one too.
Coincidentally, I was an avid hunter at this time as well. The passion I have for capturing images of the great outdoors now, I put into my pursuit of all things feathered back then. Ducks, geese, pheasant and grouse were my quarry of choice. And along with my dog Bailey, pursue them I did.
My dear sweet Bailey was the sweetest dog I’ve ever known, gentle beyond measure, my first daddy’s little girl.
Put her in the woods however, and she changed. Miraculously that sweet, cuddle on the couch, member of the family, was replaced by an all business, pure bird hunting machine. It was pure joy to watch at work. Those of you with any experience seeing a good bird dog work the woods know exactly what I mean, she was canine poetry in motion.
Sadly, around the same time I was in search of my first camera, Bailey was becoming too old to hunt. The desire was there, I could see it in her eyes, but what her mind wanted, her body could no longer deliver. While I continued to hunt, without her with me, my joy of time spent in the woods lessened considerably. Without my girl it just wasn’t the same. I started looking for reasons to stay home.
Yet a spark in the back of my mind had begun to glow.
All those mornings spent standing in a beaver pond, or laying in a corn field, waiting for the first mallards or geese to come in, also held something else.
They held magic.
Surprisingly up to this point in my hunting life, as many times as I had thought, “this would make an amazing picture,” as I witnessed the world waking up, seeing nature come alive in ways most will never see or experience, it never clicked that maybe I should get a camera.
What can I say, I’m a slow learner.
Once I started taking my camera with me on my hunting trips, it really didn’t take long to convert my love of all things hunting into a love of hunting a different, and often more elusive prey, with a much different “weapon” of choice.
All the time spent in the woods, I was never blind to what was around me, but I didn’t really see it either. I had always felt deep in the forest was one of the most beautiful places I could be, but it took leaving my gun at home, entering the forest armed only with my camera, to really begin to see and appreciate my surroundings. It was then that perfect light became my quarry, and I was relentless in my desire to capture it.
So, I gave up hunting, sold all of my firearms, and I’ve been focused, pun completely intended, on capturing and sharing the beauty of the natural world ever since.
Beauty most people will never see first hand.
On the plus side of giving up hunting with a gun, I don’t need to pluck a photograph. The downside though, they don’t taste very good either.
That was back in the spring of 2008.
I hadn’t set out to become a “photographer” back then, that was purely by accident. I never thought photography would become anything more than another in a long list of expensive hobbies.
I’ve never been so wrong about anything in my life.
And for those of you wondering, I fell so deeply in love with capturing the landscape here on Earth, I ended up selling my telescope without ever having so much as mounted my camera on it.
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