Tag Archives: Composition

Gallery show at Mount Royal University – Size matters, but be gentle (man)

One fantastic thing at the Stampede western photo gallery is I met so many amazing photographers and people. Also I was kindly offered another exhibition at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. I had to add 2 more images for the exhibition so I checked my website and I found the photo below was highly viewed. However, I am not 100% satisfied by the result of the image.

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Woodman 4×5, Fujinon 90mm, Velvia 100F, Click the photo for larger version.

What is wrong with this photo? Actually I wanted to have more space between rocks and the summit of the mountain reflecting on the lake. I had known the problem but this was only I could achieve with my TRIPOD. There are reasons why professional photographers carry a giant tripod. My tripod extends as tall as my height, but in this case, I was standing on the rocks and some part of tripod legs were submerged in the water. So the camera position was much lower than I expected. And what was worse,  I was shooting with my 4×5 view camera so I could not extend a center pole since it may have caused camera shake blur. For a lot of times in nature photography, a tripod which is as tall as your height is not high enough. Furthermore, after people become more serious on photography,
they tend to upgrade to heavy cameras and lenses. Then an extended center pole will result in blur images. Now selection of tripod is getting narrow. So which model I am looking for ….after some research…Gitzo systematic series is only option for my purpose due to their lightness and durability. (I would not go with ones made in Taiwan.) I hope I can sell some of my photos and I can scratch off one item in my “to purchase” list.

One more anecdote about this photo. The location in the photo is a kind of Mecca for photographers in Jasper, Alberta. I woke up early morning not to miss sunrise. When I arrived at the location, a lady had already started photographing. She set up a flagship model of camera on a huge tripod. I was mad since I had to give up the location. I left her with a parting shots, “you must
be professional”. After I took pictures around the area I came back to the location. The lady was still there with her husband, shooting photos. I tried talking to her and actually, they were really nice people. They were professional photographers from near Edmonton, and she told me how hard nowadays being full time photographers in photographic industry. When they were leaving they gave me their business card. It says “Outdoor photography Canada Contributing Editor”. I know this magazine! I subscribe to the magazine!! They were Lealie & Mark Degner. I felt embarrassed by my attitude before. I, being as a nature photographer, cannot control conditions of the locations,….so just be happy! Who knows how amazing people they are. Next day, I woke up really early again, and I tried the same location again. While I was waiting for sunrise, a car arrived at the location and a guy took off from the car. It was still dark outside, but I heard voice, said “shxt!”

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Roll over the rule of thirds!

Eaug(9)(11), this truly unusual chord is the one that a famous British rock group used in one of their songs. I wrote about consideration of Rhythm and Light in my previous post. This time let me take the occasion to talk about composition since there was a discussion about composition in one of my photos.

As you may know, the Rule of Thirds is considered to be rule of thumb for composition in photography. I do not have to explain what the rule of thirds here since I think readers already know what it is. About one and half years ago, I traveled to Jasper and was taking pictures at Patricia lake. The water was very quiet and smooth. It was perfect condition to shoot reflection images of Mt. Pyramid. And below is the image I got in the morning. Typical landscape photo based on the rule of third composition.

Then I had a little conversation with a lady who was a professional photographer from Sweden. She showed to me her images which had just taken at the same location with her Nikon D3x. Her image taken by her fisheye lens had Mt. Pyramid on very bottom of the frame and majority of the frame were occupied by interesting shapes of clouds lighten by beautiful morning light. I would say it is rule of tenths composition. It was eye-opening for me. I had not thought about such a way to compose images.

Unfortunately, the moment was gone at the location so I wrapped up the morning shoot. But while I was driving after breakfast, I saw an interesting cloud pattern on the lake. I picked up the widest angle lens, 21mm, and attached polarizer to the lens. This is the photo.

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I used layering technique to control contrast, which is the same technique  used for multigrade paper in darkroom.

So what was the discussion about this photo? Some people think the clouds were too dominant in the image, on the other hand other people think it was fine since
the clouds pattern was main subject in this photo. What do you think? Do you think bottom image is more interesting, or do you prefer top one?

My point is the rule of thirds does not make an image interesting. It may be safer to get ribbons at contests, though. I personally do not think about the rule of thirds; I tend think about leading lines and combinations of the shapes in a frame. For a power point, I use golden ratio rather than the rule of thirds. Darwin Wiggett wrote an very useful article “Break the rules” in Outdoor Photography Canada issue 12 Winter 2010.

By the way, which rock group used the wired chord Eaug(9)(11)? It is The Beatles. The song is “All I’ve got to do” in Album “With the Beatles”. Beatles music is full of unusualness and surprises. Roll over the rule of thirds!