Those who have taken a peek at my composition tutorials will know that I have some way to go with symmetry. It's not that I find myself unable to shoot symmetry or compose in that way, it's just that in landscape work it is not something that appears with great frequency. But on occasion, I find myself with a situation that cries out for a symmetrical shot. A local hike this week saw me wandering past a small pond which was almost ripple free. The small mountain opposite and a few coloured trees reflected perfectly and the wide angle lens extracted the best from the clouds reaching toward the corners of the frame.
As I said, I definitely need to keep on practicing symmetry when available as my work has so little of it, but this image shows that even when lacking the 'grand vista' a symmetrical shot can really pull something from nothing. It's not a show stopper or something to hang on the wall (how many truly are) but it is a good solid shot from a simple location, what more can we ask.
With winter finally abating I was able to get outdoors and back to the mountains today. I could have undertaken the lesson for free today just for the joy of being out there, what a wonderful place to be when instructing.
We hadn't actually got to our planned location for todays shoot when this lovely grizzly caught our eye in the forest by the roadside in Kananaskis. I quickly made a u-turn and we drove back to his location, with telephoto lenses to hand we grabbed shots as quickly as possible. In a very short time he tired of us and headed into the forest and ploughed his way through the deep snow on a slope that was tough going, he sunk up to his middle a couple of times and appeared as fed up of the snow as the rest of us.
Checking my images later I was able to zoom in on his tag, bear 164. This was great as I was able to look him up on the internet where he is described as a young adult with brown and blonde colouring. It seems he has been in trouble in the past and the aversion teams have had to chase him away from campgrounds. As bears age they tend to disappear into the forests and stay away from human contact but young bears are still inquisitive. 164 was radio and GPS tagged as part of a group of 10 young bears being studied by the aversion team.
His history includes getting within 2 metres of a pair of hikers and chasing mule deer along highway 40. He's never shown aggression toward humans but doesn't seem to be overly concerned by them. So, because of his penchant for campgrounds the aversion teams will find him and use bear bangers, rubber projectiles or 'shotgun fired' bean bags to dissuade him from pestering campers. His last reported bad behaviour seems to have been in 2016 so perhaps he's learning, he did scoot away from us pretty quickly today, let's hope he continues that behaviour and stays safe in the forests of kananaskis.
I think it's fair to say that today was a roaring success after seeing this guy and making some nice landscapes by the river, but I'm not sure how I go about meeting the expectations of future clients. Perhaps I need a disclaimer that says "bear sightings are not guaranteed on landscape shoots".
My series on basic composition continues this week with three more topics bringing the current total to 15 sections. As always, these are basic starting points that when combined, will help you produce better images. I still think somewhere around 20 will complete the series if I include some detailed explanations with examples as one section.
Shapes & Odds explains how odd numbers and geometric shapes play a big part in image making, Framing The Shot is another section which differs from 'In Shot Framing' and 'Filling the Frame' previously covered in this series. Balance is the third section this week and explains how we can avoid or introduce balance and the effect it has on your images.
You can find the whole series on composition here or look under the Tips & More section of this site using the link or the tabs above.
When shooting in Santa Monica a couple of weeks ago I found a location I really liked. A very simple shot of three palm trees with their shadows reaching toward three lifeguard towers in the distance. I waited patiently for beachgoers to clear the scene for as long as I could but ended up making the shot with an adult and child walking in the middle ground.
I actually kind of liked it that way and thought "I can always photoshop them out of the image at home" , there was also a pesky shadow from a fourth palm tree at the lower left of frame which I had already resigned myself to 'cleaning'. At home as I tidied up my image to produce the shot I had envisioned, I am left wondering, how much is too much?
I really like the end result with the clean, almost graphic nature of the finished shot and it definitely makes a more saleable image but I have fundamentally changed what I was looking at, into what I wanted to see. I really don't know the answer to the "how much is too much" question. I'm happy with it that's for sure, and I guess as long as we're honest about it then no harm done and perhaps this post is purely here to cleanse my conscience. The two shots are both posted below and I think you'll agree that the cleaned version is the better shot.
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