Hiding in Plain Sight
Photographs are everywhere. Whether or not we can recognize the nearly limitless potential is another matter.
One of the ways to take the blinders off is to expand your ideas about what might make for an interesting subject. You wanted to make an expansive landscape but didn't get the colorful sunrise you hoped for. Was the outing a complete disappointment and waste of time - or could there still be something to shoot?
You seldom have opportunities to visit iconic destinations such as national parks or forests. Will your camera sit in the bag, unused, but for those rare occasions when you're able to travel?
And so on.
Set pre-conceived notions and expectations aside; you'll begin to see with a fresh perspective. Your idea of "suitable locations" will expand, too.
Broaden your horizons by including small scenes and/or abstract compositions in your repertoire. "Grand landscapes" are great - but consider how seldom it's possible to make one. (After all, we have no control over the conditions.) Even on those occasions when Mother Nature cooperates, I can almost guarantee you'll find additional interesting subject matter if you take the time to look.
Every-day locations might be treasure troves, like these steps (below) leading up to an office. Just a nondescript building, just a few miles from my home. How's that for ordinary? The leaves were falling so rapidly that afternoon it almost seemed as if it they were raining down. I was struck by the fact that the color was nearly as intense under foot as it was in the canopy remaining above. I finished my business inside, grabbed my camera from the car, and got to work. There's more than one way to tell the story of autumn in New England.
Past peak foliage in the White Mountains, I was back in New Hampshire's Seacoast looking for colorful scenes locally. To be honest I didn't expect to find much, if anything; the show that year had been lackluster. Heading down a rarely-travelled (for me) road late one day, I was just about ready to pack it in when a pop of red caught my eye. I made my way down a steep bank through thick underbrush to the river only to find that the scene was uninteresting now that I was closer to it. The tree was small and a bit scrawny, the shoreline cluttered and unattractive. (The river itself isn't exactly picturesque at this spot, either.) The reflection, though, had potential. I used the red to anchor the composition and completely eliminated the messy shore - including its mirror image - from the frame. A slower shutter speed created some movement in the leaves floating on the surface. A Claude Monet moment.
ImpressionisticFallen leaves floating on the surface of the Lamprey River, their movement captured with a long exposure, combine with reflections of autumn color along the shoreline to create an impressionistic scene.
You can also try framing subjects such that they're rendered completely abstractly and perhaps become unrecognizable. (This is Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park.)
DistortionsAn abstract view of Cloud Gate (nicknamed "The Bean"), the sculpture which is the centerpiece of Millennium Park.
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