Photographing Bodie

Bodie State Historic Park, California

Bodie State Historic Park, California

East of California’s Sierra Nevada, north of Mono Lake lies the abandoned mining town of Bodie, California. Bodie boomed after the discovery of gold ore in the 1870s, by 1920 the town was in a steep and never-reversed decline. In 1962 the area was designated a California state historic park and remains that today. Several aspects make Bodie a particularly interesting target for photographers intrigued by the Gold Rush era ghost towns.

First and foremost Bodie is maintained in a state of arrested decay, that is, the park attempts to maintain Bodie the way it was in 1962, repairing what’s necessary to maintain that state but no more so. Interiors of many of the town’s buildings buildings still contain original furniture and such. And because Bodie hasn’t been commercially developed, it’s easy to find many places to take unique, “timeless” photographs without anachronisms. [Read more…]

The Tuesday Composition: Repetition

Salt Polygons at Sunrise, Death Valley

Salt Polygons at Sunrise, Death Valley

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

A while back we talked about visual echoes–and we primarily focused on repetitions of two similar or contrasting objects. Today I’m going to revisit that topic with a greater emphasis on repetition generally, whether two, eleven or a million similar image elements.  If you didn’t get a chance to read the echoes post, I suggest going back and and reading it now, many of the ideas in today’s post will relate to and reflect on the ideas I presented there.

Repetition is a powerful and amazingly versatile tool.

One of my favorite uses of repetition in composition is in simplifying an image. In general, images with many kinds of disparate elements can be harder for the viewer to make sense of–put enough elements together and you take away an easy sense of what elements of the image are important, dominant.

Repeating patterns in an image can help organize all of those elements into a pattern that’s easier for the viewer to understand. Salt Polygons at Sunrise has hundreds of elements, but our eye quickly integrates the underlying pattern of the salt polygons and makes sense of what’s going on in the image. A random collection of that many disparate elements in an image would feel much more chaotic. (Of course, that might be what you want, but more often, my own work tends towards less chaotic.) [Read more…]

Book Review: Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite

One of the larger segments of the photographic book market is the “Photographer’s Guide” segment, numerous authors and publishers have, over the years, covered any number of photographic destinations. Michael Frye’s little  ::amazon(“1930238002″,”Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite”)::  is my favorite of the genre. It’s small, well-produced, and reflects the author’s deep knowledge of Yosemite National Park and surrounding areas. [Read more…]

The Tuesday Composition: Visual Echoes

Backlit Foliage, North Falls

Backlit Foliage. North Falls

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

As we discussed last week, centered compositions often describe or emphasize a relationship between one half of an image and another. “What’s similar between these two?”  “What’s different?”  These compositions succeed because the image itself provides the answer to this questions. Reflections are a simple example of this,  answering  “it’s all the same”, making the relationship between the reflection and the reflected object a subject of the photograph.

But simple reflections and symmetries aren’t the only place (by far) where images take on life because of visual relationships we create between parts of an image. I refer to these visual relationships “echoes.”  These visual echoes, like reflections, invite us to compare and contrast. But they can take on others forms as well, based on correspondences between line, form, texture and/or color. [Read more…]

The Tuesday Composition: Sometimes Centering Does Work

Badwater Reflections

Badwater Reflections

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

As I’ve said before (and will keep saying), these photographic “rules” we talk about are more like dozens of tools in a large toolbox, and the vast majority of your images will only use a small subset of those tools. In fact, often there are very good reasons to do precisely the opposite of whatever one of these guidelines might seem to suggest, sometimes the rules themselves are contradictory. Today’s column is a case in point. Last week I explored a number of reasons you’d usually be better off not centering things vertically or horizontally in your images. This week, I’m going to mention some exceptions, but those exceptions are no more hard-and-fast as the original “rule” was. As such, I hope that you’ll not only get some ideas about why images might work well centered, but also that you’ll get a little better idea of what I mean by the “toolbox” metaphor. [Read more…]