Friday, July 25, 2008

7/25/08 - A Tourist in Oregon, Part I

This years major family vacation was a trip out to Oregon to visit my sister and her boyfriend. I have to say that I was overwhelmed by the photo opportunities. One of the more successful was at Manzanita on the coast. I found the lighting in the morning and the evening to be superb because of the moisture in the air that is trapped by the high elevations along the coast.

What I first noticed when I saw this scene was how the early morning light gave a sense that the washed-up tree was glowing. This was enhanced by the deepened shadows in the branches and the blue sky in the background. I set up the shot so that the shadow in the sand created a leading line from the lower left of the frame to the main subject (the tree). I was also careful to try and balance the scene by bringing the horizon down to the lower third of the frame. To much beach and I think the scene would have been over-weighted with yellow. I also like the somewhat similar patterns of the divots in the sand and the clouds in the sky.

This image is all about leading lines, patterns, and balance of color. It was taken shortly after the image above. However, by this time the sun was hidden behind clouds, casting a blue'ish hue over the scene. The scene is made interesting by utilizing repeating "S" curves (the waterline) to visually keep the viewer engaged in the scene instead of leading them out.

It is very difficult to pull-off a sunset picture and have the sunset be the main focal point. Typically, the scene will not be interesting enough to stand on it's own. One way around this is to include something else in the scene that gives perspective to the sunset. In this case, the dead tree provides some visual interest and context to the scene. I intentionally waited until the sun was partially hidden behind a cloud. This reduced the amount of light and gave the sun more shape (instead of just a blast of light), while also reducing the contrast between the forground and the background, allowing me to get a little bit of detail in the darker foreground.

Taking a shot at an angle to a setting sun (i.e. not including the sun), can provide dramatic colors and a less contrasty scene than shooting directly at it.

Here is another example of including another subject with a sunset. This image is about tonal variations and repeating patterns (striations in the clouds and the driftwood)