Composition Consistency

In a lot of ways these photos could not be more different. The top one was taken at Beaverhill Lake, which at this point is a big marshy field in the prairies. The bottom was taken near the Saskatchewan Glacier in the mountains. The top was taken in spring, the bottom one in fall. The top is macro, the bottom is a landscape.

But when I was developing the top one today, my mind immediately went to this bottom photo that I took four years ago. The tones of the images help to group them, but what really strikes me is the similarity of composition. Both are triangles with the base at the bottom of the photo. They both have interesting lines thrusting up at angles through the frame.

When I’m composing an image, I don’t often consciously think about what to call a composition or what photo it will be like. I’m usually trying to balance the elements in the frame once an interesting line catches my eye. After the fact, when I’m looking through my images though, I start to notice themes. In some ways I like this — consistency is good. But I also don’t want to overuse themes and become boring. It’s a constant struggle of evaluation, and I probably overthink it. But it’s something I’ve noticed and thought was kind of interesting.

There Will Come Soft Rains

It seems like all my favorite photos lately are taken during storms or on rainy days. Looking back through my photos from this spring, none of the photos from sunny hikes grab me, and I gravitate towards softer, rainier photos. I think water adds a dramatic element to photos (as well as stories – yes, I’m a Ray Bradbury fan) — it sets a mood.

The first photo was taken near Beaverhill Lake on a blustery day with my Sigma 150mm Macro at 1/125 of a second and f5.0. The second was at Chickakoo Lake – 1/800 of a second at f2.8.

Random Updates

On Saturday in the afternoon (between 2 and 4pm for sure, and probably a little longer) I’ll be at Tix on the Square if you’d like to stop by. I’ll try to bring more cufflinks too (just have to package them up)!

The Daffodil now has my first extra large square pendants which have been requested by a lot of people! I just dropped them off yesterday.

Today I’m going to pick up my new Olympus OM-D! I’m super excited about this camera. It looks like it will have really good image quality, and because it’s light and weather-sealed it should allow me get to more places and take more interesting photos. I’ll report back once I get a feel for it, but I think it will be good. Now I just have to save up for a couple more lenses. Speaking of which, anyone interested in a Panasonic 14-140 or a Canon 50 f3.5 macro? I’ve used both of them very little, and they’re in great condition.

The photo above was taken at Beaverhill Lake with a Canon 5d and 300 f4, at f4 and 1/400 of a second.

Beaverhill Lake Grass

Warm sun and cool breeze: a beautiful fall day. The wind had matted the grass into interesting patterns in some places.

This was taken before all the snow hit. Looking out my window now, from the 12th floor, I can only see a couple blocks before the deluge of falling snow obscures everything. This snow would actually be perfect weather for photography but I really need to get winter tires on the van before I feel comfortable driving out to a natural area.

The Path Ahead

It’s all unclear, but beautiful.

Taken near Beaverhill Lake, AB.

Technical Note: I tried out a variable ND filter for the first time on this hike. ND (neutral density) filters block light, while otherwise (ideally) not affecting your image at all. This lets you have longer shutter speeds in bright light, which lets you blur subjects more easily. The above photo was a 4 second exposure.

The variable ND filter worked pretty well, but you have to be careful with ultra wide angle lenses. Like any polarizing filter, variable ND filters can create a dark stripe through your image if you use a wide angle lens, depending on the lighting.

Twisting Grass

The curving lines of dry grass provide so much picture fodder.

Taken in Elk Island National Park.

Taken near Beaverhill Lake.

If anyone knows what species of grass these are, I’d be very curious. I’m getting better at my fauna taxonomy, but when it comes to grass, I’m lost.

Flowing Water and Shutter Speeds

Returning to what seems to be my favorite subject. There are always hard decisions to be made when capturing any scene, and with this one it was shutter speed. There are things I like about both of these – I like the flow of the first, but in the second I like where the smooth water meets the ripples. I think the second is a little more unusual. Which do you like best?

1/8 of a second.

1/200 of a second.

Water near the weir at Beaverhill Lake. I had to slog through a swamp for quite a long way to get here. On the way back I found out that by going around to the north I could have avoided most of the water.

Balsam Poplar at Beaverhill Lake

I’m taking one university class this winter, and I’m getting pretty excited about it. After getting half way through a design degree I’m switching gears completely and taking “Wildlife Biodiversity and Ecology”. Should be very interesting in a completely different way. This is possibly an explanation for my renewed interest in correctly naming trees and animals in my posts. I’d love to know all this stuff thoroughly.

I grew up differentiating poplars between white poplars (what I now know is trembling aspen – white poplar is actually a completely different tree from Europe) and black poplars (a kind of balsam poplar). Not sure if these were local names from Saskatchewan or mistakes. Anyway, these are a kind of balsam poplar near Beaverhill Lake. Not sure if they’re Ontario Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera) or Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa).