This photograph captures the reflections of Table Mountain in a small tarn, Austin Pass Lake, near the Artists Point Visitor’s Center at Heather Meadows. Liddy and I were beginning a six-mile hike around the Chain Lakes Loop on our first visit to the Mount Baker National Recreation Area.
But hey. This article is not about the hike, it’s about getting to this photograph. I learned to see a little better as I improved the impact of my subject, the reflections in the tarn.
In the Field
All photos begin before pushing the shutter button on the camera.
What I first saw, was the reflection, in the tarn. The reflection of Table Mountain. Next, I saw the reflection of the fir tree neatly intersecting the space between the grass tuft and the rocks on the right.
I framed the composition to include the mountain and the tree. Essential elements… right?
It was mid-day. There was quite a bit of smoke in the air. I used a 5-exposure bracket. From these, I created this HDR composite in Lightroom.
I like the photo — I like the photo but — Too much stuff — Busy — Do I look at the mountain — Do I look at the pond?
A Simple Square
I am thinking Instagram crops – 16 x 9 – 1 x 1 – 4 x 5 crops.
Let’s try the square; 1 x 1.
Better, I think.
But the trees at the back of the bench, behind the tarn, are emphasized now. They have become annoying distractions poking up to nowhere.
I want to focus on the tarn, the tuft, and the reflections.
16 x 9 – Laptop Background
And yes, this crop looks much better. Fills my laptop screen from corner to corner. Clone out the little tuft poking up from the bottom on the right.
My eye is grabbed by the that bright yellow tuft in the middle foreground. it follows the reflection of the fir, pointing like an arrow, down to the rock, then back up along the bank enjoying the fall colors along the way.
Except… I’ve lost some of those luscious fall colors at the top of the image — It feels cramped, clipped, tight — Damn!
Perhaps an 8×10 Crop
What next… Let’s try a 5 x 4 landscape. Turn Instagram’s 4 x 5 preferred crop on its side. This isn’t going to work on Instagram…
But so what… In the end, this (and all my photos) is for me. Now that I see this, I’m going to print it and hang it on the wall to enjoy.
What did I learn from this?
I have learned I need to spend more time thinking about the shot before pressing the shutter.
I knew what was attracting me – it was the reflections and the bright tuft of grass.
After taking the first shot, I should have looked for other images within the shot. This is allowed. It’s not chimping. It’s on scene image analysis. I could have taken my final image in the camera and saved myself a bunch of time in post processing.
I need to make this a habitual behavior – I need to remember to look closer.
And I have to remember to look at the image for me first. Social Media comes much later!
Now, how do I post this to Instagram?
Or maybe I don’t 😎.