One of the main dilemmas for nature photographers is how to frame an image. The choice of camera position and lens angle greatly affects the image design. Nature often provides us with chaotic lines, shapes and colors from which we must distill and extract the essence of our subject.
This past Monday, I was in Yosemite National Park photographing one of my favorite subjects – corn lilies. Returning to a favorite patch, I was happy to see that they were still fresh green in spite of recent hot weather. The leaves were covered with pollen and a light rainfall added some water drops. The wind was blowing, which meant that the leaves rarely would hold still for my camera. On top of that, the best camera position was on the shoulder of the road with tons of traffic moving the plants as they zoomed past.
From my past experiences, I was a little late for the corn lilies since they had grown tall, making it difficult to aim downward where the leaf patterns are most strongly visible. Also, other plants in amongst them made for a difficult composition to simplify. I usually prefer to zoom in tightly for a very graphic portrayal. In this composition, I chose to embrace the chaos by using my 24mm Tilt Shift lens. The TS function helped me retain focus from front to back of the subject area, just like I often did with my 4×5 camera while still using a fast enough shutter speed. I shuffled my location around trying to find a pleasing and well-balanced pattern in the lush vegetation.
Time vanished. Wind, rain showers, and sunbeams came and went. I tried dozens of framings, using the 24mm TS, my 90mm TS and my 50mm macro. I waited for still moments in the wind, and for breaks in the traffic. I hid from the mosquitoes inside my parka hood, and slapped away the ones that broke through my defenses. In spite of the challenges, I was “in the zone,” blissfully focused on the beauty I saw and felt, and on finding ways to convey it all photographically. Before I knew it, I had spent two and a half hours photographing within a ten-foot section along the road, and made over 200 images. That’s my job, and I felt blessed. As I drove home, I was greeted by the most amazing sunset, with golden light shining through pouring rain accented by red clouds. I howled loudly as the rain drenched me.
Enjoy and share!