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Same Scene; Different Ways to Look at It
Photography is interesting; you never know for sure what will make a good photograph
I found myself with an unfamiliar camera in my hands, with a familiar and very capable lens on the camera. (Canon 5D mark IV; Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4, for those keeping score at home.)
I was in a place I’d never been, with about a half hour free to wander around and take some shots. One of the first things I saw was this collection of fallen, dead but standing, and leafy trees. This being Seattle, there was still lots of green alongside the leaves that were turning red and yellow.
I moved around to see what I could see; I like to use my feet to change a composition (rather than, say, using a different lens). This is not the first shot I took; I walked around for more than 10 minutes trying out angles, taking some shots, moving again. In fact, I did not get this shot in those 10 minutes; I spent about 20 minutes wandering around elsewhere at Lake Spanaway. But I came by this scene again, and I suddenly saw it in a completely new way. I moved away, I got closer, I shifted left and right, until I found this composition.
The 5D is an older camera; It doesn’t have the best viewfinder, and being new to me, I had no idea (yet) how to tell when it was focused. The lens I was using was demanding; it has a spectacularly narrow range of focus. So, an ideal situation for failure.
And fail I did; at least half of the image I took weren’t focused right. But I like to persist, so I just keep taking images to try to get a feel for manual focusing. Imagine my surprise when I looked through the viewfinder and saw the scene above: a lovely composition. Time to figure out this focus thing for good. It was a LOT like being at the plate in a baseball game with a runner on second; you need to get the runner home. So I relaxed, and just let the focus sort itself. It’s funny how not trying sometimes works so well, and this was that.
In processing, I intensified the colors a little bit; that lime green was just perfect so I didn’t do anything to mess that up. I brought out the warm colors to contrast with the cool greens, and that was pretty much it: colorful, good composition, and then I noticed that the texture of the log lying on the ground was nearly satin: a lucky break, I have no idea how or why it happened but it puts a lovely grace note on a photo that is my favorite of the day.
Not that the other photos were bad; none of them quite measured up to this view, or only had one or two elements where the photo above has all the goodies working.
This was the first shot I took of that scene. The log was the first thing that caught my eye, so I tried to find an angle and a range to isolate it and emphasize the details. I underexposed the shot, so that the vignetting of this lens was obvious, and focus light and attention on the log.
But I literally missed the big picture. I’m glad I came back and found the larger scene waiting for me. The shot of the isolated log isn’t a bad shot or anything; but the larger picture has so many wonderful things going on.
I almost got the best shot above, but for some reason I cut off the top portion where the sunlight was. Again, a nice shot, but sometimes your mind just doesn’t open to where it can see the potential of what’s right in front of you. I was probably putting too much energy into focusing to relax and see the other potential of this scene.
My processing in this one is also kind of imid; the 'digital dark room’ is another place to find or lose you photographic mojo. ;)