He Saw…..She Saw

Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA

One of the many benefits and joys of photographing as a couple is that we “see” differently.  Mary loves her 70-200 mm lens and uses it the most.  I usually use my 24-105 mm lens.  I see big, grand, traditional landscapes and she sees the small landscapes, natural abstracts, and interesting details in shapes and colors.  Sometimes, we will literally be next to each other in the field and come home with completely different perspectives and photos.  Other times when we work a subject, our different perspectives create a more complete picture of the specific place and time.  Neither is right or wrong, just different.  Here are a few examples.

Mount Whitney and Mobius Arch

This unique photo of the Mobius Arch happened because Mary had her 70-200 mm lens (and all other equipment was in the car) on and did not ask to use my 24 mm wide-angle.  She walked around the subject until she found something interesting to shoot.  Clearly, the traditional shot is the black and white photo above, but this one is very interesting.

“Soul Consoling Tower”, Manzanar, CA

If you recognize this photo, it’s because Ansel Adams made it famous.  This is a hard shot to screw-up.  You do not want to be completely face-on, and you want some space on the sides, and the clouds are incredible.  Focus and shoot.

Prayer Ribbons

Here is a close-up of the prayer ribbons attached to the shrine.  Mary noticed the colors and textures and zoomed in to get this shot.  If you did not know what is was, you would still be attracted to the colors and shapes.

When we went to Oregon last year, we photographed many lighthouses.  Here is a shot of the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.  The wind was howling, so a slow shutter speed blurred the tall grass in front.

As Mary walked by she looked up and captured this geometry that, to me, conveys strength, scale, and harmony.

 I have hundreds of examples, but I will close with just one more.  We love photographing the California Missions.  One problem, we always encounter are the crowds.  This “traditional” facade shot took me over 30 minutes to execute because people kept walking in and out of the front door and I kept running back and forth to close it.  Mary solves this problem by moving in close and getting a different perspective (and leaving the door open).

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission

I think the lesson here for me,and probably all of us, is do not get too wedded to one lens, one style, or one perspective.  I know my comfort zone, but in order to be a better photographer I have to try new things.  So when you are out in the field – Go wide.  Zoom in.  Walk around your subject and look for the grand landscape shot, and then look for the little details.  Try different angles and perspectives.  See in color, but also think in black and white.  Oh, and remember to have fun.  To see more of photographs, please go to www.pamphotography.com.


  1. Mark McDermott

    Great topic and presented well! I see exactly the same thing with Cat & I. Sometimes it can be startling what you missed (and the other saw!).

    One way I find I can tap into that ‘other perspective’ is when I get to a point where I look around and say “Nothing here” or “I’m done”. Then I challenge myself to spend another 15 min or 10 shots FINDING something else. I have had some nice surprises doing this.

    Here is my classic example -> http://www.markmcdermottphoto.com/Iceland/Iceland/15139531_4XLhtw#!i=1131926710&k=gJ2Ya&lb=1&s=A

    We were in Iceland (One word of advice for photographers: GO!) and after our dinner it was such a nice night out we decided to take a drive up to a nearby waterfalls. When we got there the falls were completely in shadow and the surrounding area was pretty flat and featureless. We both looked at it and said “Nothing here”. But it was such a nice evening we wandered around anyway and spent a half hour just really digging for unique views. I got 2-3 really excellent images.

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