I’ve broached the subject before on this blog of not only leaving oneself (as
a photographer) open to a wide variety of subjects both in and out of
nature, but to take any given subject and photograph it in different
ways, more times that I can count. It can and does, make us better
photographers from both a technical and artistic standpoint.
Compositionally, it is will give you a portfolio to be proud of.
In some ways, moving is indeed the essence of good still photography.
I have written on these pages many times, about how when I stood at
the precipice of an amazing landscape in one of our national parks,
pondering the beauty in front of me as I attempted to pre-visualize an
image, a car would pull up and someone would jump out with a camera,
and click the shutter, only to jump right back into the car and speed
off. I would imagine that today the camera would be a phone, and they
might not even get out of the car. Even photographers with serious
equipment often settle on one spot or use only one focal length of
lens to create an image.
I’ve used the images below of The Maroon Bells, and Maroon Lake in
Colorado, as an example before. On this occasion when I made them, I
only moved a little bit (about 100 feet in two hours), but managed to
create slightly differing images, under somewhat changing light.
Way back in the 1980s, I spent another morning there, and moved around
the entire lake. This visit in the 2,000s, was specifically designed
by me, to approach the subject the way I have told you I did.
Primarily mountains lake and sky, is certainly a satisfying way to
look at this scene. Of course, the natural beautify here is iconic.
More work would be needed at a lesser place.
This image is actually one of my later shots. The warm qualities of
first light were beginning to dissipate. Still, this place remains
During this earlier shot, I took an image that I eventually (at home)
cropped into a somewhat panoramic format. You can move when you are in the field, or you can move while editing, at home.
This next early morning image, was made with a little bit longer lens,
and that made for a more intense relationship for viewers, with the
Even a location like this, presents to us more than only mountains and
a lake. I moved maybe 50 feet from the general area of my previous
shots, to incorporate some rocks and some flowers. The flowers, are
common weed flowers, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, but so what. It adds
another dimension. I spotted these objects well before I made the
The “Bells” have never seemed to have much vertical potential to me.
Just the same, how hard is it to flip to vertical?
Variety is the spice of life and even when you make a lot of images of
one particular subject, and only move your camera a short distance.
Changing from left to right to up and down, can leave you with some
A little later, some Canada Geese moved in. One could look at this as
either ruining my mountain/lake images, or as a blessing. A new
This required another 50 feet or so. Like most of this species, they
were unconcerned with me until I began to get close. I decided I liked
what I saw where I saw it, and presto, there you are.
In the past, I have turned this image into an HDR, or High Dynamic
Range image by over exposing a copy, and blending the two with HDR
software. That brings more highlights to the whole scene including the
geese. I decided this time to leave it “as is” because I actually feel
this one is a little more naturally artistic.
Anytime I worked a scene that contained reflections, it was party time
for me. The Maroon Bells were certainly no different. Pure reflection
scenes like this were for me, yet another perfect opportunity for
piecework. Visual dissection or better said the sum parts of the
This image of “the bells” was made in 1986. It was much colder ( 20
degrees and I slept in my car), and there was a much deeper alpenglow.
I actually used every portion of the area around the lake that morning
for changes in composition, although this one is from the same general
area as were today’s previous digital images.
I was experimenting on this trip with what was then Fuji’s new film,
Velvia. Notice how contrasty this film was. There is no detail in the
shadows at all. I know for a fact that when making one image I stacked
two neutral density filters together to compensate the exposure from
top to bottom, but for some reason when I copied this into digital, I
chose this more dramatic image over that one.
Let’s close out the Maroon Bells portion of this post with an “other
worldly” vision which was made on the 2007 digital trip. This was
actually the first image I made that morning. The mountains and the
scene were becoming more visible as the sky began to lighten, although
at this point, the sun had yet to send a single ray directly to the
land. This is pre-alpenglow, although it only took a 1/5th sec shutter
speed to complete its capture. I have not used any editing tricks or
color additions with this photo. It seems “almost” purple yet almost
black & white.
All of this next batch of images were created at the same northern
Michigan waterfall, within a short period of time and space from each
other. Some appear similar, and some seem as if they are from another
Moving to different locations even when they are close to each other,
and putting on a different set of eyes so to speak, can net
photographers a wealth of variety.
These next two pictures were created of a small forest stream.
Anytime I photographed something relatively large, I tended to move in
and around it in ever tightening circles. All big things, are made up
if smaller things.
Those same concepts work with most subjects, including animals.
These two images are of the same dragonfly. I moved around and towards
it until I it finally got irritated and left the scene. Starting with
some distance, and moving in and around is logical, and is what most
photographers do. If your subject is tolerant enough, and often they
are, move back out again. Never give up on the concept of variety.
Most wildlife photographers will get a variety of poses and/or
directional looks of their subjects even when the photographer remains
in one place. There is nothing better than a subject, in this case a
White-tailed Prairie Dog, which stays in one place for a while, and
then moves to a new spot that is still in your field of view.
In the case of this one, I was able to use just enough depth of field,
to capture most of my subject, especially the all important face and
eyes sharp, while the wildflowers faded into softness in both the
foreground and the background.
Subjects move, and so do photographers. Variety is indeed the spice of life.