Photography Tip: Find a Scene in a Scene

30 01 2009

When I started out with photography, my goal was to take pictures of places.

Great Falls of the Potomac

Great Falls of the Potomac

These pictures had to include enough of the surrounding context to allow the viewer to understand what he/she is looking at. The shot to the left is a good example. Anyone that has ever been to Great Falls National Park in Virginia will recognize this scene as being the falls. Time and many photos eventually led me to seek out a greater challenge than taking a nice photo of a nice place. The challenge became to show that place from a different point of view; Not the view that people always see.

Great Falls of the Potomac from a different perspective.

Great Falls of the Potomac from a different perspective.

The photo to the right, one of my favorites, is a prime example of finding a unique perspective. Most people would not recognize the location just by looking at this photograph. This image is probably an area that makes up less than 1/100 of the previous photo, but it provides a much more unique scene. How did I capture this composition? I promise that I was not in the river on a boat, though many people do enjoy kayaking this area. I allowed a telephoto lens to bring the scene closer to me. Utilizing this lens, I was able to create a photograph that provides a stronger composition, one dictated by me, not by the natural setting. Carrying a tripod with me also allowed for a longer exposure that made the water silky and the image appear far more artistic.

To capture this photo, I had to do a fair bit of extra work. This was taken from very close to the water level. I had to climb down a rocky ledge and walk over some rocks through an area that would be flooded out when the river is higher. The challenging walk was worth it both because it was a good spot to shoot some photography and a calm place to sit quietly and enjoy the river.

So to summarize this post, don’t be afraid to look for a scene within a scene when trying to create better photographs. Some helpful ways to accomplish this:

  • walk around; look around; challenge yourself
  • utilize the different length lenses you might have
  • try different exposure times especially when working with water
  • look at the work of other photographers for inspiration and ideas, but incorporate it into your own style, don’t just try to duplicate it!
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2 responses

30 01 2009
jdzphotoblog

Thanks for opening the doors. I am looking forward to keeping in touch and learning from each other. Thanks for this share!

– Joyce

30 01 2009
myphotoscout

Excellent advice. I usually start by asking myself what I liked about a scene in the first place. Why did I stop to look at something?
Then I try to isolate that feature. Simplicity is the key to better photography.

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