Monday, October 18, 2010

Photo Carousel #3: "Layers"

This is the third entry in my Photo Carousel series.  The autumn colors near me haven't been that great this year, so instead of looking up for compositions, I looked down.  That's how "Layers" came to life.  I shot these leaves as they were....I did not move them.  That's important to note for my explanation of how/why I took this photo below.

This photo is somewhat of a cliche.  We've all probably seen too many leaf pictures to count and the leaves may have been prettier than these.  But my Photo Carousel series is not necessarily about always presenting startlingly original or perfect images.  It's about presenting nice images AND explaining the thought process behind them to communicate and exchange ideas about composition, light, etc.

My goal for this image was to present layers of leaves in a way that would cause the viewer's eye to wander around the frame looking on top of and under the leaves to see what's there.  I think it succeeds in that goal because of three things:  careful composition, lighting, and exposure.

I positioned the two orange leaves and the opposing brown leaf carefully in the frame to counteract each other and set the overall tone for the image.  They also act like covers to the leaves under them and set the premise of what I was trying to do.  The brown leaf is in that location for a reason.  If you look carefully under the big brown leaf in the darker hole, there's just enough light under there to see more leaves.  That keeps the viewer's eye right in there looking around.  Same thing with the big orange leaf on the right.  I had to get the camera just low enough to get that effect while still being able to get the hand held depth of field that I wanted.  I could not stop the lens down to f/11 or further because I didn't have a tripod.  This kind of intentional composition and perspective control gives the image some depth, instead of just shooting a single leaf on a rock, for example.

These leaves were coming in and out of shadow from the clouds above, so I waited until some sun hit them from the side to light them up.  Careful metering let them go right to the edge of their luminosity without over exposing anything.  I dialed in +1/3 exposure compensation because the scene was so bright that I knew the camera would try to under expose it.  It was shot with 'Daylight' white balance to keep the colors more true.  If this was shot in 'Auto' white balance, the colors would probably have been considerably more bland and neutralized by the camera.

All the time I was taking this picture, my daughter who I was hiking with was saying, "Dad....Come on!  Let's go!".  I told her to be patient for a minute and I would show her why later.

When I opened up the picture large on my wide screen computer monitor, she smiled and said, "Wow!  That's neat!".  When I showed her the leaves hidden under the brown and orange leaves, she said "That's cool, I never would have noticed that when I saw you taking this".

And I guess that's the point of this picture.  To look around a little bit and notice things that you wouldn't ordinarily give a second glance to.  And then perhaps spend some time with your camera thinking about how to use composition, light, and exposure to make a photo that, although it might be a little bit cliche because of the subject matter, also has some hidden elements that can bring about a smile when people discover them.  And don't worry about getting your pants dirty when you get down on the ground!  :-)

1 comment:

  1. Hello John. Great blog! Glad to see that you are finally putting your own pictures up. This is a beautiful picture. I did not get out of it as much effort as you put into it but I like the bright colors and the not-perfect leaves. The marked leaves made it more interesting to view. Mark