Points of View

10/12/2013 - 00:48


"A good photograph is knowing where to stand." said the legendary Ansel Adams.



Sometimes subtle changes in the 'point of view', the place we chose to compose a scene, can change the narrative of a photograph...


In a recent exploration of the River Aune, in the southern slopes of Dartmoor, I investigated a section of the whitewater river that was new to me. In accessing this new section, I initially had to climb a tall rocky outcrop that stood about 9 or ten metres above a bend in the river. The lofty elevation gave a view with great depth of perspective, an invitation to the eyes to explore this river valley and the trees that lined it. From such a height, the waters seemed gracefully energetic, despite their velocity.





 I rotated the camera 90 degrees, to sit in 'portrait format' and new that in the two frames that I wanted to try and include the whole width of the turtle-shell shaped boulder, for that completeness of its graceful shape seemed to be a restful anchor point in the elements that appealed to me. The trees beyond I enjoyed for the mixture of horizontal branches and vertical trunks creating an archway to invite a gaze way upstream. We stare along the river and in all the detail, we maybe imagine the sound as a loud hum. I also loved the (almost!) square format of this stitching of photos.




I then moved down very close to the river level to explore this variant opportunity. The second, horizontal stitch of two images, it is I fell still pleasing but that it is somehow much more dynamic. The diminished view of the trees beyond (in terms of height) and the more 'close up' vista seems to draw the attention to the river itself, rather than considering the wider valley & river as an entirity.





The ambiguous height of the trees and the missing section of the turtle-rock invites us to ask questions about the bits we cannot see.... but maybe as we don't know the answer, we focus on what we do know about. We can see a fast flowing river, cascading over falls and round tight turns in greater detail... we can see catch-lights of the blue early morning skylight on the wet moss-free rocks and calm eddies in the water... it is now so close and personal, we feel we can reach out and touch it... we 'hear' it as a rumbling, louder and more energetic river.



There is no right or wrong about which of these 'works' and why, I am just offering some ideas upon reflection. I do, however, encourage listening to that 'voice of curiosity' that in turn drives exploration - it will change your perspectives both metaphorically and literally.


* (made on an afternoon visit 3 days later and composed within the same section of river)




'To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them'.


(Elliott Erwitt)










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