Photography – Finding the composition

It’s that time of year.  Peter and I are officially chasing wildflowers, and yelling at strangers who trample them.  Its just heartbreaking to see.  A couple of weeks ago, we made a trip to Diamond Valley Lake (DVL) near Hemet, CA.  It was Friday morning, the crowds were manageable, and I was grateful DVL had people walking the trail ensuring the flowers would not be trampled in the name of Instagram photos.  There is something about trampling for a transient experience that makes me super cranky.  There was also something else making me really cranky, my go-to lens was in the shop for repairs, and it happened right during the super bloom!  I decided to stop fretting and pull out two lenses that don’t typically make it into my bag – one was the 16mm 1.4 (Note:  on a cropped sensor).  I had a ton of fun, and found myself creatively stretched.  I’ve often read, “try something new”, “work with a different lens for the day”……but its hard to get out of your rut.  Someone said, “pick your rut carefully, because you will stay in it for a very long time”.  I’m glad there was something to knock me out of mine.  Below I will share the good, bad, and the ugly as I figure out to “see” wide in a completely new way.

Image #1:  With a wide angle lens it can be hard to edit what goes in the frame – why not as much as possible?  Instead of making one flower clearly front in center, introduce more, pull in the lake. This image was OK, but not really all that interesting.

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Image #2:  Maybe if I change my orientation to portrait, I could start to isolate a flower, but still keep it within context of its environment.  Better – but not really special.

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Image #3:  I was in an environment with poppies and a lake and really wanted to make the lake part of the image.  I used my 16mm like a macro, and got super close to the flowers.  Even though I isolated 2 poppies, it still felt predictable.

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Image #4:  I thought about changing my aperture to de-emphasize the lake, and make the focus on the flowers.  I liked this better aesthetically, but really wanted something different.

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Image #5:  I decided to change my angle.  What if I got lower?  I felt like I was starting to get somewhere, but didn’t like the way the front poppy touched the horizon line of the lake.  It felt like interrupting or competing.

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Image #6:  I got even lower and it started to get interesting.  I had a sun star in the top of the frame, the lake in the background, and the poppies very clearly the main event.  But I still didn’t like the way that back poppy was crossing the mountain line.

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Image #7:  This was my favorite image.  The poppies have cleared the mountains and the horizon, they are clearly the subject, and you get a sense of place with the lake in the background (blurred but not completely).  There is a fundamental problem however, the front poppy is not tack sharp.  This image will be for me.  I’ll try again another day.

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