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Fuji x100  @F8  1/150th  ISO 200

 

The question many struggle with, and many more should at least think about, is what do you point your camera towards when you press the shutter release.  This is a question we should consider, perhaps consider most, when taking a photograph.  Exactly what is it you wish the viewer to see or feel from your image?  And what elements of the composition will help impart this feeling to the viewer?

Last June while visiting in the Umpqua area of Oregon, on the same road where I used to own a small ranch, my goal was to make a few select captures to share with my sons who spent a fair amount of  their youth growing up on our ranch.  I wanted them to see the mountains, remember the old barns, and feel the damp wet weather.  If possible I wanted them to feel the cold air on their cheeks and the drizzle on their hair.  I wanted to help bring back many of the wonderful memories we shared while living on Hubbard Creek Road.

There isn’t the selection of vista’s you might expect.  The area is full of dense mixed evergreen timber, broken up only by small clearings where people built homes as early as the mid-1800’s.  The people who live here work for a living so there are few fancy homes or man made landscapes.  Long views of any type are few.

I came across this old barn which I fondly remembered from my past.  The view through the truncated valley shows low ranging hills, some full with timber, others clear cut and recovering.  The sunlight peeked through the clouds and bathed the small pasture in a dim light that barely cut through the morning fog.  There was just enough light to bring out the depth of the red rust on the metal roof of the barn.  I framed the barn and the long neglected apple tree with the view through the valley right down the center.  I was disappointed I couldn’t find anything to anchor the foreground so I must accept this image is flawed.  Yet, I’ve already shared this image and watched their faces as old memories flooded back so in that sense I succeeded.  I pointed my camera towards the right direction to accomplish my intended composition.

 

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Fuji x100  @F8  1/60th  ISO 200

 

The above image was captured not even 20 meters from the first image above.  It shows Hubbard Creek, a creek we’ve fished in, swam in, and cursed as winter storms overtook it’s banks and flooded our lower pastures.  It ‘shows’ Hubbard Creek, but it fails to give any ‘feeling’ of Hubbard Creek.  It’s quite unremarkable despite being a technically valid and correct photograph.

This is the difference you can expect from thinking just long enough to ‘document’ the scene, or thinking longer and making the effort to build a worthwhile composition.  Can you see the difference?  Of course there are other elements such as depth of field, framing, exposure, and more.. and we’ll talk more about those in the coming months.