Color. It can make or break a photograph, and for those of you who have been following my photographic journey over the past couple of years, you’ll know that I have become more and more intrigued with removing colors and distilling a scene down into the most important of elements… lines, shapes, contrasts, textures and how they all interact compositionally within that little rectangle that is the view finder… in black and white.
All concepts around trying to create a good compositional scene apply, as does my mantra of trying to make any scene your own and not just a mimic of someone else’s photography. As suggestions to help achieve this, I’d recommend experimenting with placing important elements nearer the edges of the frame, using the rule of thirds where appropriate, and if you latch onto something interesting… leverage it… go for it. Really try to accentuate what you find… just look at those incredible textures in the striated rocks of Pemaquid Point, and depending on when you visit, you might just get a chance to shoot some cool reflections.
This is a remarkable location… one that I’d highly recommend spending some serious time exploring. It’s one of those places where someone interested in practicing their craft has ample opportunity to spend time on a variety of compositional choices. I’ve spent a whole day here feeling like a kid in a candy store – there are all sorts of textures and elements that can be used to create a variety of compositions. This place can be shot wide, tight with a telephoto lens, and of course… in unique conditions and with a little imagination it can really shine. In the color version I used a long shutter to help streak the clouds a little and add another element… maybe it helps and maybe it clutters? It’s OK to question.
Color in the first and a more simple black and white composition in the second… I’d be curious if you’ve shot this location, and what you think about the different impact each has. If you have shot Pemaquid, drop a link in the comments and show us what you got!
When I spend time photographing in a particular location I always try to fully explore the scene. I enjoy the exercise of physically wandering around looking for different angles, less obvious perspectives, and interesting elements to include in compositions. More sky, less ground… more ground, less sky… landscape orientation versus portrait… the size of the aperture and the length of time the shutter is open… using a wide angle lens to accentuate certain things or compacting the scene by using a longer lens… just some of the many ways to experiment with what you include within the viewfinder.
For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of landscape photography is choosing which elements of a scene to include within the frame and which to leave out. Next comes arranging important elements in relation to how they interact with each other to make a pleasing composition. Sometimes it comes together and “works” better than it does at other times, though of course what I personally like in a photograph might not be what someone else likes… it’s all totally subjective, but isn’t that half the fun? When I became seriously interested in landscape photography a few years back, a pro-photographer friend of mine, Kip Brundage, told me that if I find an interesting subject, I should photograph it every which way I can. He also told me to try to make it mine. While I could certainly learn from another photographer’s interpretation of a particular scene, I should constantly strive try to create something original… this particular piece of advice has always stuck with me.
Here are a few more examples of what I was seeing on the recent mid-February morning I visited Nubble Light in York, Maine. As you can see, I was all pretty random with some of my compositional choices, but since there isn’t any single “right” answer, I got to experiment and try all sorts of ideas. Most significantly for me though, it’s all about actually being there in person to fully employ the senses and appreciate the wonder of this earth we live on. I learned that there is something very special about standing on the tide-soaked rocks below Nubble Light before a winter dawn, and if I can come even remotely close to conveying my personal experiences in a single photograph… then I consider that photograph to be a success.