Finding the Subject in Olympic National Park

Photo #1 – There’s still a lot going on here

Mary and I just returned from Olympic National Park in Washington on a Jack Graham custom workshop with a few close photography friends.  Olympic is about water and the color green – beaches, rivers, and lots of foliage.  Here is a story of one shoot on the Sol Duc river.

What a mess
What a mess – there is a subject in here somewhere

LOOK – about half way up the trail to the So Duc waterfalls, you will see this tributary from a bridge.  There is a lot going on here, so you need to really look for the composition.  It really helps to move around to both sides of the stream and get tight.  Even though it seemed like a wide angle landscape shot, we all got out our telephoto lenses pretty quickly to get close and tight.

Photo #2 – A portrait orientation works better here than the cover photo

SEE– once you start isolating smaller subjects, they appear everywhere.  Mary and I both were attracted to the fern, logs, and small cascade.  Her vertical orientation works better than the cover horizontal because she was able to eliminate the clutter in the upper right and left.  She loses one of the cascades, but the photo is more direct and focused.

Photo #3

IMAGINE – Now, if tight is good, is tighter and closer even better?  In this case, yes.  I moved up stream and found this little scene.  Again, I like the large fallen log, multiple cascades, and no clutter in the water like sticks and leaves.  Since we started shooting around dawn, there was little light and it was easy to get the silky water with a slow shutter speed.

Photo #4

CREATE – Is even tighter better?  You be the judge.  I like both #3 and #4.  This last one is definitely the cleanest, most straight forward composition, but it borders on the boring.  It is saved by the tiny cascade on the right that gives it just enough imbalance.  By the way, boring and simple compositions in the mess that was this stream is no small accomplishment.

Which one do you like best and why?

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