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Mother Nature works miracles in what she creates. On a grand scale, the sheer majestic beauty of the Teton range, the gorgeous array of sea stacks along the Oregon coast, and the awe-inspiring formations of the Southwest desert leave many who witness these areas speechless. On a small scale, the wonderment is no less amazing. The intricacies of color within a flower, the intense hue of tropical fish, or the bark pattern of a bristlecone pine all equate as works of art. Many of these locations or subjects mentioned above house strong patterns within. Mother Nature created them. Your task as a photographer is to learn how to portray them to do her work justice.
Patterns in nature can be swirls, flowing lines, repetitive shapes, rounded or cornered off objects, colors, etc. Capturing them in a pleasing composition with good light is necessary to create a powerful photograph. With regard to composition, the key is to reduce what’s in front of you to its primary components. Photography is a subtractive art. The world in front of your viewfinder is filled with clutter. Zero in on a selected part to reduce it to a composition that’s pleasing. This is your task.
When approaching a potential subject, look for an area that’s clean and has strong lines. Target this portion and begin to work it into a composition. Look for a prominent focal point and place it in the rule of thirds. Arrange the elements so lines lead the eye to the key part of the image. As a rule of thumb, try to have the eye enter from the lower left and be lead up and into the picture. This creates a smooth transition as the viewer explores the photograph.
Equally as important as composition, work the light so it complements the subject. In grand scenics, early morning and late evening side light work well. Sidelight emphasizes patterns, textures, and shapes. Close ups of patterns tend to work better in soft overcast light as it produces less contrast and wraps around the subject.