May 23, 2011

Foggy Bottom

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 200mm, f/11, 1/125s, ISO 640.
I made this image as I was driving with the Cache Valley Photographers from the Spiral Jetty back to the Golden Spike National Monument site a couple of weeks ago. What I liked about it was the stacked up hills, layer after layer, all pouring alluvium down over time. An old landscape. The fog is cool, too.

Notice on this image that I shot it long. That is, I used a telephoto lens to make it. We often think to ourselves that we'd like a wide angle lens so that we can make better landscape images--so we can "get it all in." However, the ability to choose what not to include in a picture is at least as important as knowing what to include. Had I used a wide angle lens (say, a 14-24mm lens) I would have a lot more of the land in the picture, but I think the image would be unclear. There would be fence line in at least two places, two cows (now, three would be a nice element; but two? come on!), and a whole lot of blank cloudy sky. Nope, sometimes, you need to limit what is in the image--focus the image to include something specific. Using a wide lens I would say, "It's a picture of a high desert valley, with some cows, and some hills in the back ground taken on a cloudy day." Using the long lens I can say, "It's a picture of a mountain valley with clouds low on the hills." Usually, the simpler the description of the picture, the better the picture is.  So, before you make a picture, especially some kind of landscape, ask yourself, "What is this a picture of?" Your answer will dictate your lens choice and camera settings. Have fun!

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