Convict Lake, just south of Mammoth Lakes, is a sapphire gem set between soaring granite peaks. The steep slopes surrounding the lake are blanketed with aspen and cottonwood that turn a vibrant yellow in fall.
The first (understandable) inclination at Convict Lake is to capture the entire scene with a wide lens. By all means, go for it. But whatever your subject, the first shot you see is rarely the most creative (or best) shot. After spending a bit of time there, I realized it was the juxtaposition of vivid yellow and blue that made the scene unique, and chose to emphasize the color of the backlit leaves against the lake with a more abstract composition.
Of course to my eyes the entire scene was in focus, but I knew with a fairly long focal length and large aperture (small f-stop number) I could make the distant trees reflecting in the blue water a smear of color. The vaguely parallel diagonal elements (leaves, reflected trees, open water) create a sense of motion that helps maintain visual interest. (I didn't consciously think this much as I composed, but you may find yourself conscious of this stuff when you first attempt more artistic creations, before it becomes second nature.)
This photo is just another example of the value of learning to turn off your view of the world in favor of your camera's view. Overcoming the urge to create a literal representation of what you see will free you creatively, improve your images, and make you a much happier photographer in general. The possibilities are endless and (in my opinion) your goal should be to limit your creativity to capture, and use post-processing for refinement and clean-up.
Next post: August 4 (please view my previous posts by clicking the arrow in the upper left of today's image)
* Website: Eloquent Images
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