Deeper in Capitol Reef
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?
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.
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.
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!