JUNE 2011 IMAGE OF THE MONTH : THE ROAD TO FORT ROCK
Fort Rock provides a unique challenge for any photographer simply because of its size, location and somewhat limited access. It sits on a broad plane in the High Desert among a few hills to the North with gently rolling waves of sage and rabbit brush as far as the eye can see. Its a tough subject to frame as a typical Near - Far kind of composition, mainly because everything about Fort Rock and its location exudes the feelings of Space, Loneliness, Unlimited, Alone, Abandoned........
Well you get the idea.
It became clear to me that my challenge was to convey the presence of this rock in a sea of sage. I drove around the Fort twice over two days looking for the right composition and the right light. I even hiked into and around the crater bowl, again scouting for that one spot where I could tell the Forts story in one single frame.
Early in my search I decided that my image of Fort Rock had to be one of those images that did not require any fancy HDR, multiple exposures, layer masking or virtually any manipulation. The whole scene, the dynamic range, the shadows and the highlights all fit nicely within the boundaries of the Histogram with a single exposure and it would only require minimal contrast and sharpening adjustments to tell its story.
Almost simultaneously it became vividly clear that it was simply not a close up and personal kind of subject. It was a Grand Landscape kind of subject. It was the kind of scene and subject that needed.......No, Had to have! room to breathe, it needed space !! It deserved to be captured and presented as a Grand Landscape, nothing else would do.
From that point on, it simply became a matter of choosing the right spot with elements in the foreground that would capture the viewers attention, draw them into the image and take them to the waiting surprise laying out there on the distant sage prairie. In my image "The Road to Fort Rock" the diminishing line of the road simply cant' be ignored, one is drawn all the way to the end of the road, almost on the horizon. When you run out of road the viewers eye is automatically drawn to the lighter clouds (remember, Light projects and Dark recedes) which serve as a virtual crown over the surprising center of interest. Fort Rock!!.
Next, is waiting for the light. Not just any ole' mid day light will do, it has to have character, have direction and must provide the appropriate amount of shadows. This time, it only required a two hour wait.
And last but not least............How much sky? and, how much foreground?? Because the image is really about Fort Rock and its environment I chose to weight the image slightly toward the foreground giving the image the base it needed to compliment the landscape and especially Fort Rock itself.........Geeeezzz...I love it when a plan comes together.
* Note about Grand Landscapes vs other styles....
I am always conscious, when creating my landscape images, of which type I want to focus on. The Grand Landscape or the Intimate Landscape. For those that aren't sure..............the grand includes ground sky horizon and the whole kitchen sink. One of the really big challenges with the Grand L's is sorting out how you bring the viewer to the Center of Interest (COI) with so much going on.
The Intimate Landscape rarely has a horizon, usually, though not always it has no sky and the focus is on some intimate aspect of the world around us or within nature. These can be almost as difficult because composition can be tough when one moves in close to their subject.
Sooooooooo...........pick one and see how well you do at taking the viewer by the hand and leading them into and through your image. Do they go where you want them to go?, Do they get lost? Do they wander out of the image? Are there multiple COI's?
I guess when it is all over and done I come away feeling like Landscape Photography is really TOUGH !! And I have to constantly remind myself to S L O W D O W N and to practice......SEEING.
Thanks for joining me on this ride..........Enjoy Vern