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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall Reflections

Autumn is a season when fleeting colors produce exceptionally vivid scenes. By combining water elements, you can add extra dimensions and motion.

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Jamaica State Park, Vermont. “Timing was everything,” notes Banerjee about this shot. “One needs to wait to get the trees on the other side of the river illuminated by sun, but the river still in shade.”
The possibilities are endless—the more you look around, the more images you’ll find. The difference between an abstract and a close-up shot is subjective, but designing the image is the most critical part in either case. Here, you’re not shooting just what nature gave you, but making an image combining your vision with the natural elements. Playing with the depth of field, focus and exposure will give you control over what you want the viewer to see. Some examples: over- or underexpose the background, use flash on the main subject or use extremely shallow ƒ-stops.

Having a versatile, long zoom (e.g., the 70-200mm range) is critical to play with compositions. I also carry my 105mm ƒ/2.8 macro for close-up work. I use a tripod/cable-release setup for tripod work, and when handholding, I use a camera bracket, flash and small softbox.

Nature’s artistry is infectious in this season, and I find myself trying to push the boundary to create surrealistic or impressionistic images. These images need a lot of previsualization and planning to succeed. You’ll often end up making a whole lot of nonusable images to produce a successful one, but that’s part of the fun! Some of these techniques to experiment with include long exposures to capture water or wind motion, multiple exposures in-camera, camera shakes and zooming during the exposure. Be patient, use consistent techniques, and refine your composition and camera settings by reviewing images on the LCD screen. (This is where digital cameras are very useful, as you can see the effects instantly.)

Break The Rules
Creative and rule-breaking composition techniques are another way to create distinctive images. Ditch your tripod and start moving around with your camera and a versatile lens (e.g., an 18-200mm) while trying various compositions to generate ideas. When you find something interesting, set up the tripod and recompose with your preferred equipment. There are no hard rules here—in fact, you’re actually trying to break all the rules you’ve learned over the years. Shoot into the sun, use backlight and uncommon angles, and you’ll begin to discover new compositions that you’ve never seen before. The key is to slow down as you shoot and experiment. There’s no need to rush from one spot to another in search of iconic postcard images. Creating something of your own is more satisfying.

My Fall Reflections Locations

Finding a great location to shoot in matters greatly to the types of fall shots that you’d like to get. My favorite waterfalls to shoot during autumn are Lye Brook Falls in Vermont (with a required 2.3-mile hike one way, making it a secluded location), Moss Glen Falls in Vermont (there are two of them—one in Stowe and one in Granville—and both are beautiful) and Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills region of New York. My favorite locations for stream shots are West River in Jamaica State Park and Roaring Brook, which runs along Kelly Stand Road between Stratton and Arlington, Vt. Other great areas include the Housatonic River Walk on the Appalachian Trail near Kent, Conn., the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania and the Bash Bish Falls area along the New York and Massachusetts borders. A few locations in which to capture the more serene still water shots are Harriman State Park in the lower Hudson Valley and the Adirondack Lake region in Upstate New York. Both areas have beautiful bodies of water with gorgeous woods along the banks. Often, the most unique images are made when you venture out to the wildest part of the lakeshores via trail or canoe.

Arnab Banerjee is a fine-art photographer based in the lower Hudson Valley in New York, who focuses on nature and travel images. To see more of his work, visit www.arnabbanerjee.com.


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