Wednesday, August 15, 2012


One of the three most important elements of a great image is composition.What should I include? What should I exclude? Should it be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal? How do all the elements best work together? What's my main subject? What about the background? What about my subject in relation to the background? And the list goes on.

When the composition is good, the viewer knows it. Most viewers don't say, "Wow, great composition!" It just feels right.

Sometimes, when I simply cannot get what I want, I try to get it as close as I can, knowing that I will end up cropping the image later--after all, we're stuck with a rectangle canvas called the viewfinder, and not everything fits perfectly within those four corners.

This scene was one of those difficult images to "get." The factors that contributed to the difficulty was the low light around the small stream, the size of the mushrooms (about 3/4" in diameter, if that!), and the location of the mushrooms. My tripod and I looked like contortionists before it was all over!

After several attempts at repositioning my tripod, I finally got something that worked for me. I wanted the small mushrooms toward the lower right-hand corner of the frame--the old stand-by Rule of Thirds, plus they were facing left. I also had to position myself in just the right place. I wanted to place the running water behind the mushrooms in order to separate them from the background. The light blues of the running water behind the orange of the mushrooms made for a good color combination--and, the color of the water really made the mushrooms "pop."

I was with a student at the time, during one of my 3-Day Rocky Mountain National Park workshops. It took both of us several minutes to find the right composition, best focus for our purposes, and exposure.   

The lesson here: If it's worth creating, it's worth the time (and physical abuse!).
Don't take pictures; create images.