Hi everyone. Last week I posted an image entitled "Morning at Great Falls" (you can see that post here). That image, the first one I made that morning, was shot approximately 20 minutes before sunrise when the color tones of light were decidedly blue. Though I like the tonality of that image and the composition, I felt that there was more that could be done. I am often drawn very quickly to compositions. I cannot fully explain this except to offer that it is probably some internal response to the forms and elements I see. I am a "scanner" of compositions and allow my eyes to land in many places when I am out in the field with a camera. I don't often know exactly what I am looking for and in this way the process is somewhat iterative. A friend of mine once suggested that we are hard-wired with sub conscious preferences for shapes, forms, and even feelings, to which we are consistently drawn. These preferences are different for each person which can probably explain why you can put ten photographers in the same spot and get ten different images. The overall point here is that my first image I took that morning represented my initial preference or sub conscious response. When I reviewed the shot I knew something else was there and I only needed to draw it out.
I often employ a little trick to help me see the other possibilities in a composition. After making the initial exposure I will go into the live-view screen and zoom into the image to look for other possibilities. By zooming in and moving around the shot I can often pre visualize other more compelling compositions. Often a simple change in lens selection or exploring different camera positions can lead to better images. Jack Dykinga refers to this as working the situation. Sometimes your first image is the best one but nine times out of ten there is a better composition that only reveals itself through a process of discovery. Ask yourself what do you see. What is it that draws you to the scene and how can you frame the subject that allows you to tell a compelling story. Remember that subtle, and slight, changes in composition can create an improved image. Work the angles. Look for relationships, forms, and lines. Keep working the situation.
In this case a simple change in camera position brought about a more powerful image. By moving in tighter and elevating the camera position I was able to compose an image with a dynamic set of leading lines reflected in the angular positioning of the rocks and the flow of the Potomac River. These strong forms provided a counterbalance to the flow of the water and created a framing device around the main subject-the waterfall. Additionally there is a strong line formed by the river and a layering of linear elements in the background rocks and tree line. I think of this type of composition as a Wedge, open at one end and constricted at the other. It is a type of composition that invites the viewer to enter the image but forces them farther into the shot along one line only to have them return along another.
The quality of light was also a strong factor in the success of this image. At ten minutes to sunrise the reflected highlights had a singular glow that brought out a wonderful tonality and contrast in the water. Originally I conceived of this image in color. But much in the same way as I study a composition in the field, post-processing explorations in the digital darkroom, often lead to different solutions. With color out of the mix the image became more about the forms, lines, shapes, and wedges within the composition.
Camera Details: Image was made with a Sony a7II and a Zeiss Distagon T, 25mm. Image exposed at ISO 50 at f11 for 4.0 seconds. To manage specular highlights I used a Singh-Ray Filters 105mm Circular Warming Polarizer. It you need new filters, don't forget to use my Singh-Ray discount code Clark10 when you order your filters from the Singh-Ray Filters site.