Deeper in Capitol Reef

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Photos are flat, 2 dimensional images either on an electronic screen or a thin piece of paper.   They are not like the real scene in front of the photographer and only a compressed view of what the photographer sees.  Yet some images have depth to them while others remain in 2 dimensions.   So how do you convey this depth of a scene to the viewer?

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I was reviewing images of a trip to Capitol Reef National Park and the San Rafael Swell of Utah and a few images caught my eye and serve this purpose.   You hear photographers talk about a balanced image with certain parts heavier or lighter but this mainly refers to left and right or top and bottom.  Another way to look at images, and one that is more engaging, is front to back.  This is where the challenge for the photographer lies in finding ways to represent a 3 dimensional scene in a 2 dimensional medium.

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Of course roads can be a great path for the eye to follow into a scene.  The top image shows a road disappearing into the shadow.  The combination of a road, contrasting blue and yellow and a mix of shadow and light all give this image a depth that I actually saw in front of me.  The second image uses layers of black and white with a strongly contrasted tree in the foreground.  I enjoy giving the viewer a place to start in an image as much as giving a path for the eyes to follow.  The second image gives a good start but the rest of the scene is up to the viewer and the eyes go deeper into the scene.

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The third image uses strong shape differences to lead the eye around a corner in a smooth way.  The difference in color creates a contrast and when combined with the shapes, one is left to explore and wonder what is around the corner.   The last image relies on one thing:  good light.  Nice, soft evening light is a photographer’s best friend and gives the viewer an easy image to view.  This was during a partly cloudy evening and some areas were lighter than others.  I used this to my advantage to keep the attention on the details in the foreground while still giving the image depth.   Light and shadow, shapes, paths and contrast of light and color are all elements I use to create depth to a 2 dimensional image.  There are other methods and elements in an image that contribute to adding depth and are dependent on the vision I have when taking the picture.

Reviewing older images has been a great learning experience for me because I’m able to find things I didn’t know about earlier and certain images escaped me.  I’ve learned an incredible amount in the past year by shooting more images and asking myself why some images work and others don’t.  Stay tuned for more as I’m just beginning to dive into 2012!




48 thoughts on “Deeper in Capitol Reef

  1. i totally agree with your view of reviewing one’s old images and see which images work and which do not. Also we learn how to process images in a better way too, thats helps a lot too, i guess. A very nice post indeed. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  2. Eric… my brother from … errr… “a diff state”. Read your FB post on withdrawing and found that it was remiss of me for not including your beautiful blog on my blogroll. So to ease the withdrawal symptoms I have added your site. I know it’s late and a very small gesture, but just wanted to support your decisions. As photographers I can totally relate…. but for connections with a certain other element (daughters and rabid family members) I find it still a necessary evil. All my best as I continue to follow your journey.


    • That’s funny Mike! Thank you for the link, that is much appreciated! I’ll reformat my blog someday to include a blogroll and yours will definitely be there. The main problem I had with my photo page is that it was engaging only with friends and family. I want to break away from that since I’m already connected to all them on my personal page. I’m aiming to connect with people based on interest and I’ve started a new Facebook page pertaining to Park City. I’m hoping to grow a following there organically and not based on knowing me. I’m giving it a try and it’ll be slow at first but there’s nothing like it here. Try searching for Park City, Utah – Through the Lens:) I need an outlet to advertise occasionally and I’m not certain this blog is the place for that. Thank you for all the support throughout the past years and all the best to you as well!


  3. Beautiful and engaging. Where I live, on the Magdelen Islands in the Gulf of St.Lawrence it’s all about the sea and the sky – the land you shoot is so rich and warm, moving. Makes me want to lie on the ground and absorb some of the sun’s rays.


    • Thank you! Having lived in the NW where it too is all about he sea and sky, there is something inviting about the desert. A quiet place of rock that stretches out forever, a relaxing yet dangerous place and one that feeds the soul. Exactly like the ocean:)


  4. Great photos! Your world is a very different palette from our Florida landscape. I’m not certain I have gained the eye for pulling a person into and around my pictures quite so dramatically, but I will keep on trying. Thanks!


  5. Nice photos. Capital Reef is the one one major park in Utah that I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring. I plan to add it to my list of visited Utah parks within the next hart or two. I have enjoyed seeing your photos and reading the blog 🙂


    • Thank you Wendy, Capitol Reef is amazing. I don’t have a favorite of the 5 here and all are National Parks for a reason. Capitol Reef is different though. You need time there. It doesn’t blast you in the face quite like Bryce or Zion does but it holds many, many secrets for those like you who want to explore a bit. Happy travels!


      • Thank you for this advice! That’s exactly the kind of park I love. We missed this park sorta by accident. LOL. I have explored a little in Zion, Bryce, Arches & Cayonlands. Out of those parks I definitely enjoyed Canyonlands the most. We camped in a great campground inside of the park. There were NO crowds at all. We were basically alone. Did some exploring and a little off trail backpacking. The views were amazing. I will be in Utah for the Outdoor Retailer Show again this August. We always take a week or two after the show to do some exploring and relaxing. Last year we went to Messa Falls, Idaho & Yellowstone. I’m thinking about The Dixie National Forest for this year. We have driven Hwy 89 but never stopped to explore the area. I’m looking forward to reading your future post 🙂


  6. I love the patterns of the rocks and the saturation of colour that you have got in the photo. I’ve just got back from Australia and was captivated by the colour and pattern of the eroded rocks there. Very similar to yours.


  7. Pingback: A Post About Photography Without Posting A Photo | Eric E Photo

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