Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Backroads

Backroads
Kentucky Backroads Wheat Stubble

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What's Around the Bend

A photograph is a visual story. It has a theme, a plot, dialog, a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sometimes the story is obvious, some times not so obvious, and sometimes the photo is constructed in such a way as to allow the viewer the ability to make their own story. Photo's that use that technique are often some of the most engaging because they pull not only the viewers visual gaze into it, but their emotional desire to find the story. One way to build that kind of photograph is to use the theme...'What's Around the Bend'.

What's around the bend ideas in an image most often use some kind of visual trail that leads the eye into the center of the image and that trail will usually disappear somewhere in the distance. Roads, creeks, trails, tree lines, fence rows are some of the more common elements used as that visual trail. It's important that the trail lead into the image and not out of it...although sometimes leading out of the image can work, it usually works better the other way. Other ways include using such things as the neat rows of a plowed field, or clouds, or even shadows and rolling or receding hills.

I find myself looking for those kinds story lines in photographs quite often and when I discover an opportunity that looks right, I then try to flesh out the story by adding other nuances. Sometimes that requires waiting for the light to change or the conditions or even the season's to change. It's the nuances that add flavor, character, and substance to the story. Without those, well very few around the bend story lines could stand on their own merits.

Here's some examples.  I love windmills...I guess growing up in Oklahoma is what developed that sense of story so whenever I see a windmill, I always take a second and third look to see if there is a story there. This image is a location just a few miles down the road from where I live and I drive by it almost everyday, and almost everyday I take time to see what flavor the story is taking on.


On the morning this photo was taken, there was a light fog that drifted across the farms and fields in the area. I walked a short distance down the old road and lined up this shot being careful to include enough of the road and fence row to lead the eye into the story. You can see the windmill on the right side...kind of hard to see it in such a small version of the image.

One winter's day I came across this next location while out looking for Sandhill Cranes.  The road was slick and there was a good layer of snow covering the landscape. The road curved around and dropped out of sight over the hill and to me at the time it looked like one of those Currier and Ives scenes. I loved the way the road seemed to beacon the viewers eye to follow it around the bend to see what was on the other side and how the fence row carried the view to the turn in the bend just on the edge of the image..


The next image is a favorite of mine as it sings a back road melody like few images do.  It carries in its design that sense of country, that feeling of home is just around the bend, that emotional bond to a familiar place. It says to me, 'welcome home...I've been waiting for you'. It may be one of the best examples of the what's around bend theme I've ever taken.


What's around the bend...it's a great theme for a photographic story line. Take time to look for those opportunities...but not just simply curved roads or fence rows...think about how to flesh out that story...what would your location look like in a different season...on a rainy day...foggy day...early or late light...with shadows. That's how you take the basic theme and turn it into a great story.

Keith

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