Sometimes the shots come to you, sometimes you have to make them. And sometimes it's both. What I mean is, when you're in Yosemite Valley as a storm clears, the shots are everywhere. In fact, the beauty is so overwhelming it will numb your creativity if you're not careful.
This image from last week in Yosemite reflects one of those "both" situations when I must consciously force myself to look beyond the obvious and identify the elements that most reflect the beauty before me. Think of it as distilling the essence of a scene. The result isn't always an image that drops jaws from across the room, but I think this is often the best way to create something with staying power, an image that sustains the viewer far beyond the initial impression. I sometimes wonder whether this explains my preference for "fine art" images that can be hung on a wall, rather than stock, which must grab on the first view (of course achieving both is even better).
The best way for me to find a scene's essence is to put on a telephoto and slowly move the view around the scene until something grabs me. I generally start wide and move tighter, and of course I try both horizontal and vertical. Much like a divining rod that somehow hones in on unseen energy to guides its "driver" to water, I can't tell you what I'm looking for in my viewfinder but I know when I've found it because my camera just seems to stop.
So on this morning the view up from El Capitan Bridge sent me straight to my 70-200. Starting at 70mm, I didn't have to zoom much before this composition stopped me. I'm generally not a fan of cutting primary elements down the middle like this, but (in hindsight) I think I liked the complementary curves of the exposed crown of El Capitan and the crown of the tree. Exposure was easy because it was the tree's shape, not its detail, that attracted me, enabling me to use an exposure dark enough to ensure ensured that I didn't blow the clouds and lose the blue in the sky.
This entire day turned out to be great for photography. My March 18 image was taken just a few minutes later, and while the storm cleared out within a couple of hours, Yosemite Valley had clouds clinging to its walls throughout the day. I was guiding a class from the Sacramento area for the day, some of whom had never been to Yosemite, always a treat. I draw vicarious pleasure from showing Yosemite to others who have never seen it, but on this day the pleasure wasn't all vicarious.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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