composition

9 Degrees at Falls Creek Falls

  • January 10, 2015

What do you do after an arctic blast moves through and it’s only 9 degrees outside? That’s right, you hike to a waterfall! Ok, maybe I’m a little crazy, but when the elements get extreme it provides for some interesting sights and photographic opportunities. I’ll admit though that when I stepped outside I had second, and possibly third and fourth thoughts about it!

I’m fortunate to live just 30 minutes away from Lake Catherine State Park where you can hike to Falls Creek Falls. I visited this spot after a nice freeze last year and the icicles were awesome! Some of them were 6′ long! It was even colder this year so I was expecting a beautiful ice-covered waterfall! As I rounded the corner, I could feel my anticipation growing. That’s when I saw this…

To be honest, my heart sank. I hiked through the 9 degree weather and my face and fingers were frozen to the bone… I hiked, for this!? Pfft! I mean, it’s pretty, but it paled in comparison to last year. The photo below was taken after a cold front LAST YEAR. Notice the difference. Apparently the water is rebelling against the thermometer this year. Grrrr! Oh well, I decided to make the most of it while I was there. I didn’t get out in the cold for nothing!

Ok, back to the present day waterfall… I decided to accentuate the icicles as much as possible so I used a composition technique. Using a wide angle lens, I put the icicles close to me and the waterfall at a small distance. This helps to make your foreground (icicles) look bigger and the background (waterfall) look smaller. I also used some “leading lines” to draw the eye from the icicles to the waterfall.

I am slightly addicted to my wide angle lens, but I felt that zooming in tight for some alternative views was going to be necessary this time around. I think it’s good to mix things up a bit to get different perspectives.

Next I went downstream a ways and zoomed in with my 70-200 lens. This “compresses” the scene which sometimes helps. I like the result this time because it pulls together three different layers of the scene: 1. the small cascade, 2. the rocks going across the creek, and 3. the waterfall. Compare the image below with the first picture. Notice how drastically different they look even though you’re seeing mostly the same scene. I’ll admit that I’m often too lazy to swap lenses for shots like this, but I’m glad I went through the extra effort. Not only did the longer lens compress the scene nicely, but it also helped me to capture the reflection of the waterfall. This wouldn’t have worked as well with a wide angle lens.

Next I just rotated the camera for a vertical composition. I think I prefer the horizontal, but I like how the vertical cuts out some of the unnecessary scenery.

Since I braved the elements, I decided it was worth a selfie. LOL! Proof that I’m not quite right in the head I guess. Thanks for reading and leave me a comment below please!



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