Forgive me as I lament the infinite blue skies of a California summer and indulge in a vicarious diversion to the clouds and color of autumn....
A frequent frustration of nature photographers focused on the grand vista is the limitations of the camera’s rectangular box view of the world. But this “limitation” becomes an advantage when we want to call attention to a subject that would otherwise be lost in the larger scene.
This was just one leaf among many brightening the forest shadows beneath Yosemite’s Bridalveil Fall. I love nature's intimate scenes and spend much of my time in the field looking for individual elements like this to isolate inside the larger scene. Without the boundaries of the frame, this leaf would be lost in the larger scene; carefully positioned within the frame's boundaries it becomes the focal point.
Bridalveil Creek may just be my single favorite place to photograph in Yosemite, though few of the images I create here are identifiable as Yosemite. I like it for the infinite compositional possibilities, a feeling that seems to be fairly unanimous among the workshop participants I share it with—they rarely want to leave and usually ask to return.
Beneath the fall Bridalveil Creek separates into three branches, but by autumn it's often down to one. That's when I most like to scramble among the rocks and cascades with my 70-200 lens, looking for individual elements to isolate. I search for a focal point to anchor a scene; telephoto zoom lenses are ideally suited for this, enabling me to identify and refine my composition. I think telephotos are seriously underrated for landscape photography, particularly in Yosemite--while I can sometimes run out of wide compositions, I can always find something to shoot with my telephoto.
With my 70-200 (or more bulky 100-400) attached, I'll remove my camera from my tripod and slowly scan the scene, up/down, left/right, zooming close and wide, shifting between horizontal and vertical. I try not to think of "rules" and just wait for a feeling that tells me to stop scanning--when that happens I know there's a shot there; I bring in my tripod, reattach the camera, scrutinize the composition, make adjustments, and shoot.
One interesting piece of trivia about today's image is that when it was chosen for a recent cover of Sierra Heritage magazine they asked if they could clone out the little pine needles next to the leaf. I happen to think they add an element and don't find them a bit distracting, but I didn't feel strongly enough about it to object (and I appreciated them asking).
BTW, if you're interested in exploring this hidden corner of Yosemite with me this fall, I still have a couple of openings in my October 29-November 1 workshop: http://www.photographyosemite.com/Workshop_YNPFall09.shtml In addition to photographing my favorite fall locations, (weather permitting) we'll also photograph a rising full moon and do at least one night of moonlight photography.
Next post: July 1 (please view my previous posts by clicking the arrow in the upper left of today's image)
* Website: Eloquent Images
Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.