Posts Tagged ‘ water ’

Bow Glacier Falls

It has been a few months since I last featured any of Keith Rajala‘s work, but that does not mean there has been any let-up in his quality.

Bow Glacier Falls

Reminiscent in some ways of Adams’ mountain shots – simple, compelling, with very carefully managed tonal ranges to bring out the finer details – this shot provides a sense of majesty, but controlled enough not to be overbearing.

As is de rigueur for a scene like this, it is perfectly proportioned: the foreground interest anchors in both lower corners, drawing the eye up against the water’s flow to the lower left intersection of primary golden ratios, where the detail in the tonal range keeps the eye endlessly occupied. Every part of the centre of the image includes a detail of form or texture – or nature’s rugged beauty – that could be studied indefinitely. And then the eye finally finds the falls themselves: hanging from the intersection of the right primary and upper tertiary golden ratios; a sweeping arc that tumbles lazily down the cliffs until to sweeps into the foreground path to complete a stunning S-curve.

Without doubt, a masterpiece of mountain scenery.


Cascade Ponds

Next up, a powerfully alive landscape shot from Canadian Wendy Erlendson

One might think it easy to shoot a strongly composed landscape. That perception is nothing if not deluded. While a landscape may not be in motion, while it may simply be a case of getting into the right position, landscapes have many parts that all need to line up just right. It takes time to get from where you are to where you need to be; if even you know how the scene will evolve as you reposition yourself. And in the time it takes to get the static elements into place, the clouds and light can change enough that the shot no longer works.

In order to pull together a scene that makes people feel that they want to step into it, one needs to use a range of compositional elements. Clearly, having majestic elements helps, but in itself it is not enough.

Here, Wendy has started with the majesty of the mountain, the summit positioned on a golden ratio, and played on the reflection in the rippled waters. The duplicate ridge line runs parallel to the foreground shore, even going so far as to echo its unevenness. That foreground interest element, even though no more than a patch of grass, provides a further anchoring element as it nestles so tightly into the lower left corner. And finally, running back along the shoreline, we arc around the end of the water, and reach an actual as well as metaphorical bridge between fore- and middle-grounds. We arrive in a refined scene of pleasant calm – a small filed edged with trees – amidst all this majesty.

The additional processing here to emphasise the texture of the clouds does not so much enhance the composition as reinforce the original majesty of the setting.

Powerfully peaceful.

Kanaka Creek OxBow

It is time now for another outing from one of the best river photographers I know: Keith Rajala (maclobster).

Kanaka Creek OxBow

Of immediate interest in this image is the shape of the river, extending into the foreground and away in two arms which draw the eye ever into the depths of the distance. An excellent choice of location from which to shoot that allows this feature to be captured. But what makes this instance of this simple-enough approach to capturing an oxbow unique is that the form of the waterway is mirrored in the cloud, drawing the eye in to the same central place. Everything draws us in to the distant points of the river.

Adding to the already powerful composition, we have the horizon sitting perfectly on a golden ratio, and the highest treetops (left side) equally reaching up just far enough to touch the upper golden ratio. The log (bottom right) provides foreground interest to the whole.

There is an additional element here that Keith does exceedingly well: the matting of the image to make it “presentable,” matching the border lines to the tone of the subject perfectly to make the whole pop.

A scene of powerful tranquillity.

The memorial

It’s not all that surprising that the first image picked for a critique since I returned to this blog is from my friend Aftab Uzzaman (aftab.), who consistently offers up exceptional work.

The memorial

Perhaps the most obvious compositional aspect to this image is the use of the chaos of foreground branches, and the occasional flares of autumnal foliage, to frame to monument, which acts as subject. The wrap-around creates a tunnel effect, leading us without question into the depth of the image.

The framing creates a strong sense of balance, in its being off-centre, and with the monument itself sitting (albeit not quite perfectly) on the intersection of golden ratios, one at the line of the horizon (a little higher than the waterline) and the other through the right edge of the dome.

The counterpoint of the setting sun through the branches – creating a melange of silhouette and ethereal back-lighting – provides a distraction from the primary focus, which combined with the directional texture of the framing sends the eye circling around the whole of the scene.

A compellingly peaceful scene, demanding contemplation.


Definitely the most prolific contributor of images for analysis in this blog, Jenny Downing once more supplies something that “just felt right.”


Another minimalist still life, the tiny subject is very clear: with only the one droplet and a fraction of a leaf in focus, the eye is drawn to that one point, hanging off the vertical midpoint, at the double golden ration (0.618 : 1.618). As well as the obvious focal and positional highlighting, there are other elements which help establish that point as the key focus: the anchoring of the leaf in the bottom right corner to provide a key leading line, and the single, thin line of another leaf cutting across what would otherwise have been loose negative space as a framing element.

For “it just feels right,” this is one fabulously balanced, almost-abstract scene.

Making a Splash!

Next, a picture from a Flickr contact, Bobbie Sue (faeriesdragon), who has been somewhat inactive of late.

Making a Splash!

When it comes to centring a subject, there are ways to do this effectively, and ways not to. One obvious way to pull it off is to include so much motion – so much force – in the scene that placement becomes almost irrelevant, allowing the middle of the scene to be the safest location. That technique is used here: jets of water shooting upwards as bucket-loads being dumped with gravity. That all that power is frozen in time does not matter; it is still very visible. This balanced direction holds the subject steady in the middle.

Another aspect within the image that makes it work is the use of contrast; in this case it is not within most areas (very little detail within the surfaces of the face) but between different elements of the image, and within the texture of the water; in effect a type of detail-minimalism.

Also, there is that powerful group of S-curves formed by the model, arm to leg (and a secondary using the other arm), that allows the eye to migrate around the centre of force created by the moving water. Of note also are the two lights in the rear of the scene: elements that could be considered distractive, except that their removal would lose a stabilising triangle, as they anchor the form created by the water falling from above.

Unusual, effective and playful.

Small things

Once more, we have an offering from Aftab Uzzaman (aftab.)

Small things

When it comes to composition, it is the small things that matter. So it is no surprise that this appropriately titled image demonstrates excellent composition. As is so often the case with Aftab’s work, it is the simplicity of the image that really makes it work. In this case, the stark Chiaroscuro contrast, presented as a globe-like arc with windows into another reality perched atop it, draws the eye to the interface line, where all the interest is.

The image inversion does not work against it; if anything, the unreal upwards pull on the water droplets creates a sense of mystique. That the main object’s shape does not give away what it is – that it almost feels never quite in focus – leaves us with only the droplets to pay attention to.

And it is through the water that we see another reality, another world. The conceptual recursion of having windows visible through these tiny aquatic viewing areas (i.e. windows) is a touch of philosophical composition on top of the visual.

Deeply compelling.

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