Photography Tip – Don’t Take Scenes for Granted

1 03 2010

My photography tip or thought for the day has to do with taking a scene for granted. Long story short, when you’re looking at a scene, keep in mind that you may be able to get “that” photograph again. For a short story made longer, read on:

I first saw the barn in the photo below about 5 years ago. It’s located just off of Georgetown Pike (Northern Virginia) on the way to Great Falls National Park. I thought that it was an interesting photo subject but there was no where to park. I drove past the bard about 2-3 times a year for the next 4 years. Every time I visited Great Falls I thought about how I could get a photo or two of it. Eventually this past fall I sucked it up. I pulled my car off of the road and parked in some high grass. It was probably a spot that had no business being parked on. Anyone that has driven this road can probably picture the lack of “pull off” parking. I walked about 100 yards to the opening in the tree line that allowed me to capture the shot below.

Why do I tell you all of this? Well a few weeks ago, I took a drive to Great Falls shortly after the back to back blizzards (B^3 would have been a clever name). It was a day that there certainly no where to stash a car off of the side of the road because of 4 snow plowed embankments. I was curious to see the barn in a winter like scene as I had never gone to Great Falls with snow on the ground. As I approached the barn, I saw that the scene was no more. The roof had collapsed under the weight of the snow and I would guess that the barn will be demolished in the near future.

So with this photo of a barn in mind, I suggest taking a photograph of a good scene when you find one because it might not always be there for the taking.





Autumn in DC

27 10 2009

I was able to get out this weekend and take some pictures around the Washington, DC area. I ended up visiting Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in Fairfax County after spending some time at Great Falls National Park. My trip to the preserve resulted in one solid image.

Waterfall at Scott's Run

The waterfall at the nature preserve is less than a mile walk from the parking area off of Georgetown Pike. The first 2/3 of the walk is easy, but the end you go up and over a fairly steep hill that is covered in stone and not the easiest surface to walk on. I was lucky to come to the preserve on a nice sunday day and when the trees were in full autumn color.

Some other autumn shots can be found here.





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!