Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Week Ten of 365 Day Challenge - Landscapes

Day 63 - The Heart of the Sangre de Christos

I live in New Mexico so of course I know how to take landscapes. But when I read that portion of a digital photography book I was surprised to find tips I had never considered consciously, so I figured maybe a week of conscious taking of landscapes was in order.

Rule One -- wait, there are no rules in photography or art -- merely guidelines. One guideline, therefore, would be foreground. Really easy with the long lens on to zero in on just the snow capped mountain above. But per this book on photography foreground is critical to the composition. Ergo I did not walk forward and photograph over the fence. The fence and highland mesa vegetation provides context and depth. 

Not day 64 - Blowing snow

This is using the long lens to zero in. I really like this one but very little foreground, if any.

Day 64 - Wheeler Peak

Better photograph? Frankly for me the jury is still out. I think the one that breaks the rules - oops, guidelines, has more impact. But if I am entering contests where the judges are stickler for rules?

Day 65 - Taos River

Guideline two - landscape does not have to include the complete scape as it were. Sky and complete trees are not necessary.  Snap takers have a tendency to point their cameras at the horizon and see how much of the landscape they can get into one frame. This was about how little. And movement. Horizons often have a static effect so if the horizon is not key do not include it.

Day 66 - Shadows on the snow

Guideline three - complete trees are not necessary. If you have the bottoms you do not need the tops and if you have the tops you do not need the bottoms. I played around with this a bit on a grove of aspen and found that you do sort of need one of the other. Not done playing with that limit, however. And in this photo the concentration is on bottoms and the shadows the trees cast. But the tree on the far left has neither bottom or top in the frame and I think it works fine.

Day 67 - Wide Open Spaces
Guideline four - this one is mine - what originally prompted you to stop the car and take the picture? I have driven by this particular spot on the road between Cimarron and Raton more times than I want to acknowledge and never stopped but always turned and stared. On this particular day I was racing to get home to avoid the snow storm that was moving in. The clouds in this picture are the precursor to that storm. I stopped. Was it the clouds to give a break to the often endless blue? The cattle pens in the foreground? Or the line of fence and power poles that gave a sense of the distance between where I stood and the bluffs and mountains beyond? Or some combination of all that?

I was in a plein aire class once and was confronted with a beautiful canyon along old route 66 to watercolor. After taking a few reference photographs I found myself painting out the line of power poles that ran through Tijeras Canyon in the middle of my composition. I got home with my masterpiece and when I sat down to do the detail work I put the power poles back in per my photograph.

Day 68 - entering Moreno Valley

Guideline five - this one is also mine. You do not have to live with power poles and lines if they have no purpose in the composition. There were two poles in the foreground of this photograph and more annoying, power lines in stark black across white snow. To crop them out eliminated the foreground detail so I decided to practice my cloning in the dry darkroom. Tip - I find it easier to work down than across with the cloning tool and you can rotate the photograph.

Day 69 - Palisades in Cimarron Canyon

Guideline 6 - Not all landscapes are horizontal. Though it is amazing how often I think of landscapes in that context and I have been to Utah.

Having done a few weeks of intense study on dedicated subjects next week is going to be "What I see is what you get." If you want to see the day by day posts go to Binford-Bell Studio 365 Day Challenge - March. There is also an extended discussion on days 67 and 68 about power poles.

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