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Thread: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

  1. #1
    terrib's Avatar
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    Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    While planning my trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, I found THIS IMAGE online and THIS IMAGE in a book. I did not take the images with me but followed the directions in the book to the spot described. We arrived before sunrise.

    First of all, even though I followed directions, point of composition is further around the lake and is not as nice. But I think the biggest issue with the composition is the perspective from which it is shot. As I was standing out there waiting for the light, I knew without calm waters and some clouds I was not going to get the shot I wanted. But I was still excited to see the color that began on the mountain as shown in my first shot. (These images have had no processing except the default RAW processing done by Aperture.) Since I had seen several images with this great light on the WHOLE mountain, I was very disappointed that it disappeared and the color became so bland so quickly - as in my #2 photo.

    So I started out to compose a question to all you great people about what conditions would create the great light that I didn't get - was it time of year, clouds or what? Then I realized that the perspectives on those other shots were way different from mine. Erik Stensland's photo might have even been taken from a kayak. Andy Cook's looks like it might have been from shore with the foreground elements, but his camera was at least positioned low to the ground whereas mine was at eye level. This left much less mountain to be covered in that great light and also made the trees more prominent which to me is a much more dramatic composition. (I suspect the shoreline point for them was also closer to the opposite side than where I was too)

    I failed to do what Andy told us in class - walk around with the camera, look through the viewfinder from lots of perspectives - low, high, left, right to find your composition. THEN set up the tripod. I walked around til I could clearly see the mountain, found a rock for foreground interest and then set up the tripod at eye level. (I did at least look at the DOF table this time to make sure my foreground subjects would be in focus ) Surely someday all these failures are going to stick in my head... or maybe I started this hobby too late in life!

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    Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

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    Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

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    pnodrog's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Terri you have the rock and the most interesting part of the mountain directly in line. Would probably have worked better if you walked 20 yards to the right so the rock was on the left diagonally opposite the centre of interest in the mountains. I am a bit cautious about including foreground shoreline then a lake without any linking edge, it seems hard to make it work. Unfortunately the lighting changes very quickly at that time of day so you need to be ready. Sometimes I end up running to a new vantage point not even bothering to collapse my tripod. One day I will go crashing over - be careful out there. Do not get so enchanted by the lighting in front of you that you don't glance behind you. It is surprising how often I see a better opportunity for a completely different shot in another direction from the one that I first had in mind. (Hence the reckless running)

    Be patient we all takes lots of photographs that we know did not nail the shot as we should have and you have put up some good shots recently.
    Last edited by pnodrog; 11th October 2012 at 08:22 PM.

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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Every once in awhile I approach subjects from any position other than standing at full height to remind me that there are nearly an infinite number of other perspectives to consider. Having said that, the light is going to be different at various times of the year and within each period of time it's also going to vary from day to day.

    Hopefully you don't walk around looking through the viewfinder, as that can be dangerous. If you're going to rely on looking through the viewfinder, be sure to do it only when you're standing still. I wonder if you saw Donald's post awhile back explaining that he keeps cards in his bag that have cutouts for each of the standard aspect ratios.

    By the way, you either moved your tripod ever so slightly between capturing the two images or you cropped them just a tad bit differently. Not that that's important.

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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Terri: I think you are there at the wrong time of the year. Here is why, at the time the image was shot the sun was rising on the left side of the image, sun was low as shadow shows was result of other higher mountains. In the fall the sun rises more south than in the summer. I would say not having seen the others images that they were taken when the sun rose farther to the north say June or July. There is a great smart phone app called "sun seeker" that shows the direction where the sun will rise, set, and its path across the sky based on location, plus you can set it to any date to see where the sun will be any given day. I use it all the time to know where the sun will be so I can pick out a choice spot.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Hi Terri

    I can easily relate to your frustration with this sort of photography. I did a similar thing on our recent trip to the Canadian Rockies - ie research the best spots, sunrise time and direction etc. I got a few shots I was happy with but so often the weather and/or breeze just didn't co-operate !! Local knowledge might help with these things but in the end, it's the luck of the draw. You really need to have several days in the one place I think to increase your chances of good conditions. I found on one early morning shoot, I had a perfectly still pond and a good mountain reflection before sunrise but as the light started to get good on the mountain, the breeze suddenly sprang up and the pond was covered in ripples.

    Could I suggest that the composition of your shot might have benefitted from a wider view (cropped top and bottom possibly to give a wide landscape shape). From your EXIF data, you appear to have shot with a focal length of 30mm on a 1.6 crop camera. The two shots you linked to were shot with 35mm focal length on full frame cameras and I think their wider view is better. But they certainly had much better conditions than you.

    Dave

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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    I suspect your problem is that the air was too clear and clean to get the prolonged red/pink colour from the rising sun. We have had spectacular sunsets here for the last month, all because we are having the worst drought since records were started in 1920. The combo of suspended dust, smoke from forest fires and high clouds all led to vibrant red sunsets and sunrises. You would have needed the sun to clear the horizon, above the mountains which are shading the range beyond the lake, and still have enough suspended particles to colour the sun red or pink. In mountain valleys the sun has to be quite high to clear the surrounding peaks. This would be a pretty uncommon situation to have the whole range coloured pink as in the first example. Far more common is what you caught where the peaks catch the rising sun and the lower parts are in shade. By the time the base is in the light the sun is effectively fully risen and has no atmospheric tinging. In the second image you took you can see the fading red tinge as the sun rises.

    As for position, you are probably right. You would need to almost be in the water to avoid the foreshore. Sacrifices sometimes need to be made for art. What is a little hypothermia? A good tripod and a release are useful to avoid the whole body shivers wrecking the shot as you stand in ice water waiting for the perfect moment.

  7. #7
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Thanks, Paul. I think you are right about changing the position of the rock. I'm not sure if that option was available or not. If I go right I think I'd be including a section opposite with more dead trees (from the pine beetle infestation they are having there). I know that to my left were two other photographers that I was trying not to bother. But it's a good thought to keep in mind for future composition.

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    ...
    Hopefully you don't walk around looking through the viewfinder, as that can be dangerous. If you're going to rely on looking through the viewfinder, be sure to do it only when you're standing still. I wonder if you saw Donald's post awhile back explaining that he keeps cards in his bag that have cutouts for each of the standard aspect ratios.

    By the way, you either moved your tripod ever so slightly between capturing the two images or you cropped them just a tad bit differently. Not that that's important.
    Mike, I didn't mean to walk and look through the viewfinder at the same time! Good reminder about the cardboard frames, though.

    Not sure what's going on with the change between images. I uploaded the unchanged versions of both photos. I had to look hard but looks like the second is slightly lower so maybe there was a little creep in my ball head.

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Allan, thanks for your reply and you are right. One photo was in June and the sunrise photo was in August. I did look at Ephemeris while planning but I was thinking of it more for the "looking toward the sun" sunrise shot so I'd know where to be to get the sun and the subject in the photo. I really didn't think about how long it was going to take to get the shadows from other mountains out of the way for the "looking away from the sun that lighting up the subject" shot. Just how long can you count on that color sticking around? How tall can an obstacle be in relation to the subject to not block the color?

  10. #10
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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    Hi Terri...
    Could I suggest that the composition of your shot might have benefitted from a wider view (cropped top and bottom possibly to give a wide landscape shape). From your EXIF data, you appear to have shot with a focal length of 30mm on a 1.6 crop camera. The two shots you linked to were shot with 35mm focal length on full frame cameras and I think their wider view is better. But they certainly had much better conditions than you.

    Dave
    I agree with you, Dave. The wider view is nicer. I especially like on the sunrise picture that there is space on both sides of the mountains rather than a mountain range that's just cut off like mine. I do think though, that the perspective of the trees makes the biggest difference.

  11. #11
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking about shooting perspective in landscapes

    Thank you for that explanation. I really had no idea what conditions might contribute to the great color. I think what you have said added to the time of year as Allan suggested is probably the most likely causes of the nice lighting not hitting more of the mountain. So given what I had, the only thing I could have done is change the shooting perpective to get those trees higher to cover the shaded part of the mountain.

    I did, by the way, take several bracketed exposures to perhaps be able to blend the darks and lights in the picture. However, I'm not happy enough with the picture to go to the trouble.

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