Venice is a city afloat and as the title of Joseph Brodsky’s classic essay alludes, it is this watery foundation that is the heart of the city and leaves its mark on your soul. Around every corner your eyes are met with a rich palette of colors, and wandering through the maze of narrow stone passageways and arched bridges the sound of water lapping against stone is a constant reminder that the sea which brought life to this Renaissance town is slowly reclaiming it.
Founded in the 5th century as a defense from invaders, Venice was dredged out of a marshy lagoon and compasses 188 islands in the north Adriatic Sea. Its unique location which at first offered protection soon provided an even more valuable asset in access to the open sea, and by the 13th century Venice became a major maritime power.
During the Renaissance its wealth and power reigned supreme and it flourished as a center of art and culture that remains today. From Piazza San Marco to the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal, Venice is a vibrant blend of classic architecture and old-world artistry that appeals to the senses like no other city in the world.
Yosemite National Park is a mecca for adventure and nature photography with its steep granite walls, lush meadows, alpine spires and booming waterfalls. I’ve spent four decades exploring its unique features and it always feels like home whenever I return.
But as with any well-loved location, it’s easy to find yourself in a creative quandary when it comes to seeking out new perspectives. With iconic landmarks around every turn, it’s a challenge to create fresh images that (no matter how beautiful) don’t leave you feeling as if you’ve just seen that same view in a recent car ad or magazine. So what to do?
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, waterfalls are always a rewarding subject as no two shots will ever be the same. The flow of the water is in a constant state of flux and experimenting with shutter speed opens up a whole new world of creative expression. From what Ansel Adams called “straight photography” to ethereal artistic interpretation, the sky really is the limit with this liquid landscape.
Also known as lunar rainbows, moonbows are a unique phenomenon that occurs when the full moon illuminates the spray of a waterfall. The moon needs to be low in the sky (less than 42 degrees) and the night sky must be very dark making Yosemite an ideal location. The best times are typically 2 to 3 hours before sunrise or 2 to 3 hours after sunset when the brightness of the stars compliments the moonlight reflecting off the water.
Framing can be a challenge in such dim light, but once you have a composition set and your eyes have adjusted the fun part begins. Watching the moonbow magically appear and disappear with the ebb and flow of the spray is mesmerizing and makes for an evening of photography you won’t soon forget.
Compelling landscape photography is often comprised of one or more elements that make it stand out from the crowd. Magical light, richly saturated colors, and dramatic vistas can all make for great images, but sometimes we’re not rewarded with these sure-fire conditions even after the long hike or waiting out the inclement weather.
Fortunately there are other ways to create visually dynamic imagery when mother nature is not cooperating – namely your lens and your eyes. Perspective is a powerful tool that is limited only by your choice of lens and framing.
A wide-angle lens with both excellent depth of field and a wide field of view can be used to emphasize a foreground element such as a plant or rock within the context of its larger mountain or desert environment. In most cases this also creates an imaginary line directing the viewer’s eye across the frame, which in turn adds drama to the composition.
So the next time the elements aren’t working in your favor try adding a little visual spice to the composition. A subtle change in perspective can often create leading lines that add drama to a scene, and will entice your viewer to linger within the frame.