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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Working The Landscape

In this excerpt from his book Capture the Magic, Jack Dykinga guides us through the process of exploring a scene and a composition to create special images

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Although I captured multiple images of the same scene, each photograph was still a product of careful composition. Nevertheless, they were created quickly with the rapidly changing light.

Many years ago, I photographed the Grand Prismatic geyser pool in Yellowstone National Park. More recently, I was teaching nearby and wanted to revisit the pool and photograph it again, this time using my new Nikon D800E digital camera.

I remember being instantly in love with this geyser, especially at sunset. The sinuous rivers of red algae seemingly run right into the setting sun. But as the saying goes, "You can't put your foot into the same river twice." Time and weather conspired to show me something different, and I captured this first dark, moody image [Fig. 7].

Before taking the second image, I concentrated on the details within the rivers of red. I worked the situation and achieved this very different result [Fig. 8].

Dykinga wanted to show the slippage in ancient, petrified sand dunes. The obvious illustration is in Fig. 11. This image shows the up-and-down shift quite literally. Getting past the literal, Dykinga made the photo shown in Fig. 12, where the main interest goes from the fracture line to the blue striations.
As the algae painted the surface of the bacterial mats, they were juxtaposed against the turquoise geyser water. As the angle of the setting sun became pronounced, it highlighted the edges of the bacterial mats, creating bold diagonal lines that I was able to capture in the third image [Fig. 9].

The changing light shifted the emphasis, creating yet another design [Fig. 10]. So light creates shapes and forms, which, in turn, change compositions and design.

Working the situation is another way of thinking outside the box. My goal for these two photographs was to create an image for my German calendar, which celebrates the designs in stone that are particularly visible here in the American Southwest [Fig. 11, Fig. 12].

I wanted to show the slippage that occurred eons ago in these petrified sand dune formations. The misalignment of rock layers along the fracture line was what piqued my interest and the contrasting subtle colors added to the composition. I felt satisfied with the design in the first image, but I wanted to try something different.

To create the second image, I shifted the principal subject from the fracture line to the striations of blue. These are two approaches to the same scene, but with a subtle shift in the center of interest.

You can see more of Jack Dykinga's photography at www.dykinga.com. Learn more about his book Capture The Magic at www.rockynook.com/book/0/288/capture-the-magic.html.

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