║ Bolivia, land of contrasts and mysteries...
05 September 2018
Salar de Uyuni
Let me talk to you a little bit about this image....
Our visual system is always looking for graphic structures and, in this image, it is possible to see the strong marked hexagonal line and vector that takes you Fisher Island and the 4WD in the background. The angle of the line plays an important part. In terms of noticeability and sense of movement the strongest lines are the diagonals and the weakest are the horizontal lines and, in this case, the diagonal line helps to take the eye inward. Diagonals in a landscape tend to improve the impression of depth and a feeling of distance. In this image, diagonal lines lead to the 4WD and the island in the background, providing more visual weight and depth and at the same time telling a bit of a story.
The image would have been compositionally stronger if this diagonal line had led to the 4WD from the right corner at the bottom to the left of the frame. I could have moved the car and the islands to the right-hand side of the frame using Photoshop, but I decided not to do so as sometimes making things too perfect might create a feeling of being too manufactured.
Leading lines also help the viewer to understand an image and add a graphic element of design. They should be used to emphasize the foreground to background perspective and relationship. Don’t be afraid of getting down and close to them!
A photography has only two dimensions. Depth is the third dimension and it does not exist in a photography. Therefore, for an image to be realistic and pleasing to the eyes we need to simulate depth. In this scene, depth creates a natural opposition between the foreground and the background. In this image depth is created through perspective, which is the appearance of objects in space and their relationship to each other. This is important because a sense of depth through this strong linear perspective improves the viewer’s sense of being there in front of a real scene.
Optical sharpness also leads the eye here and the viewer eyes moves from the sharper foreground lines to a less sharp background.
I also love the light and the pastel colors captured during sunrise and sunset. I love the harmony in color, tone and textures and with a lot of my most successful images, the complimentary colors play a key role in my work. In this image the violet and the orange of the clouds, are opposite in the color wheel and excite the viewer’s retina inducing a pleasurable feeling.
It is a simple and strong composition and I also think that the square format works well with the marked diagonal line. As you can notice, I have compressed the image with Photoshop to square it (this is a Photoshop technique that I learned from Peter Eastway and its magazines by the way). The interplay of the diagonals within the square frame gives a dynamic movement and creates some tension within this picture. The horizon line enhances the square’s stability and the diagonals make it more dynamic.
The use of a wide-angle lens also provides a dynamic quality that gives a feeling of exaggeration to the photograph. Wide-angle lenses have a propensity to enhance linear perspective. This is because wide-angle lenses show us more than can be see with our own eyes. They introduce movement in the image by showing that is close as well as what is distant the same time. When you use a wide-angle lens, the foreground, midground and background have to be interesting to make a successful image.
The horizon approximately follows the rule of thirds and both the 4WD car and Fisher island are located at a hot spot within the rule of thirds grid. I decided to place the horizon line near the top of the frame because I consider that the unique features of the foreground in this image are more interesting and the sky does not have graphic value.
Salar de Uyuni is a composite image. The top of the image that includes the 4WD and the Fisher Island was taken at sunrise and the bottom part of the image with the typical Salt plain's hexagons was taken at sunset.
The reason why I had to do a composite image is because I only spent one night in Uyuni and that morning at sunrise I could not find the composition that I had in mind. That morning, there were also a lot of 4WD wheel marks on the salt hexagons in the area where we parked our car to take a few photos at sunrise and that was ruining the picture. In fact, there were so many 4WDs driving around Uyuni that it was very difficult to find a location without marks...and it would have been a very tedious task to clone all of them.
Because I wasn't completely happy with the shots I took in the morning I asked the driver to take me again for sunset. I was the only photographer on the tour keen enough to come back to the salt plains again for a sunset shot. We had to look for a while until I found what I wanted and then we waited for the sun to set...
Technically this image is not perfect, as the foreground is a bit soft, but it was more important for me to get the composition right and to photograph it in good light.
I was shooting at f13 and I didn’t have time to “focus-stack” so some of the lines at the corners are a bit soft. As a result, I had to sharpen those lines at the bottom a bit more than the rest of the image and with some other techniques in Photoshop I also marked the diagonal line a bit more than the rest of the lines.
When I was taking the photograph at sunrise, my driver took off and parked the 4WD a few hundred meters in front of us. I wasn't happy with that as I just wanted to photograph the pure environment without human elements. I thought that the car would ruin the shot and I would have to clone it in Photoshop. But when I opened the image at home, I thought it was an essential element of the image and I decided to leave it. It provides depth to the image and makes the shot and was one of the points mentioned by the judges at the Spanish Professional Photo Awards.
Seven Color Mountain
This image was taken from a location just a couple of minutes away from the hotel where we were staying during a photography workshop. At an altitude of 4000 metres above sea level. The image won a gold award at the 2018 AIPP NSW Epson awards and was the Focus Image of the Year in 2016. It was also part of the portfolio of images that won 2018 AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photographer of the Year Award.
Again, for me, what stands out about this image is the composition. And I am not just talking about lines and framing, but about color. The colors in the image work well and I love that the image looks like a painting.
Making use of leading lines can help control where a viewer’s eyes move, and it is easier to do this using wide angle lenses. However, for this image I used a 300mm lens (230mm equivalent as I was shooting Medium Format). Leading lines can be found everywhere in nature and would direct the viewer to the part of the image that’s your main subject. Lines that converge create depth and draw the viewer in while curved lines like the ones in this image can take you around the frame and eventually land on the main subject.
There was a nice cloud that morning that unfortunately wasn't at the place where I wanted it. It was a few hundred meters to the right of the peak. When I went home I decided to put it on top... How good is Photoshop!?