The Weekly Photo – January 17, 2011

It has been crazy cold and windy in southern Alberta but I ventured out to make some images in the dreary grey light (remember, “there is no such thing as bad light“). I found a cool snowdrift (at -30 degrees Celsius!) and decided to make a few photos. I used my Rebel T2i and my Sigma 17-50 f2.8 lens to make all the images. The photo below is the overall scene from the road:

©Darwin Wiggett - the wide view

The photo is OK, but it lacks compositional refinement. I decided I needed to get tighter and make a more graphic representation of the snow drift and the fence and so recomposed to this scene:

©Darwin Wiggett - a tighter composition

The image above is more graphic but now that little piece of grass is a distraction rather than an addition to the image. I wondered what the photo would look like with the grass cloned out. As well, I wanted to show more texture in the snow and so used ‘tonal contrast’ in Nik Color Efex to bring out more detail in the image. I also converted the image to black-n-white with a blue tone in Nik Silver Efex Pro. The result of all of this post-processing is below:

©Darwin Wiggett - a textured monochrome

Although I like the photo above, it does not show the story of that little grass head below the big snow drift and for me that little grass is an important component. I decided I needed to get tighter to show the grass in context with the drifting snow, so I got close and low and made this image:

©Darwin Wiggett - the story of the grass

I like the photo above but wondered if I could do better in terms of pure graphic representation. I really liked the undulating line of the snow drift in contrast with the diagonal dark line of the little grass and so composed a tight frame that was all about line and graphics. The final photo that I like best is this one:

©Darwin Wiggett - my favorite of the series

In the end, the moral is to really work the scene (even when your face is frozen to the camera and your fingers have fallen off!). Don’t give up with the first composition you make!


21 Responses to “The Weekly Photo – January 17, 2011”

  1. A great subject fot black & white photography.
    The five photos are gorgeous, but Ijust like you, the fifth is also my favourite of the series.

  2. I like the last two the best. I like the story of the grass, because it seems like the snow is providing a nice shelter for the grass to survive under a nasty-looking sky. I think it does tell a stronger story. I like the lesson about recomposing to.

  3. Great composition Darwin! Love it

  4. A great example of the creative process, both in the field and in the “darkroom”. I really like the final photo, and it’s cool to see how your approach evolved towards it. One of the things I recall Galen Rowell talked about in a video I saw was to develop a “saturation of awareness” and use that to push beyond the more obvious compositions. That’s the same kind of thing you’re showing and talking about here.

    I also like how you use the phrase a couple of times, “I wondered”. Got to keep the sense of wonder going, even at -30 C. 🙂

  5. Those last two are great Darwin! I feel that the second last one tells more of a story with the inclusion of the threatening sky, but the last one is the winner compositionally for sure. Great explanation of your process as well.


  6. Mike DiMartino Says:

    Hi Darwin! Great peek into your creative process. Thanks for sharing. On a side note — how do you like Nik Silver Efex pro? Do you find it makes better B&W conversions than using a lightroom/Photoshop combo? Thanks!

  7. Carl Stammerjohn Says:

    Thanks! Great explanation of the process. It’s great to see how to “make” a picture, as opposed to “take” a picture. When we only see the final product, we miss out on the thought that went into it. Very helpful.

  8. Thanks for the excellent lesson, and for freezing your butt off to pull it together!

  9. This post is very helpful to get idea how top photographer find composition and post-process images. Thank you for sharing. I like bottom 2 photos

  10. Alistair McNaughton Says:

    THanks for sharing your creative prcoess. i can’t imagine the pain of taking a thought out image at -30!

  11. Last one gets my vote. Very nice crop!

  12. The last two shots are killer! I hope that with time I’ll be able to work on seeing scenes like this, too. There’s just so many things you walk by and miss the potential of it. Great stuff!

  13. It’s interesting how a change of camera angle can change a photo completely.

    I like the last two images the best. The second last is my fave, I think. With the inclusion of the sky it gives me a feeling of openness and depth. It works better, for me, on an emotional level as it is less confining.

  14. This is amazing. A great lesson in looking out for any little element that makes a terrific image. Grist for another e-book on composition, post processing and perseverance!

  15. For abstract lines and texture number 5 is the winner. On an emotional level of the snow drift dwarfing or towering over the blade of grass then it has to be number 4 for me. Thanks for sharing the process of getting to these results.

  16. Love this creativity and the composition, cool

  17. The bottom two images rock! LOVE the texture and light in the 2nd to last and the simplicity in the last.

  18. […] looking for my Daily Image I was inspired by a post I had seen last week by Darwin Wiggett on his weekly photo.  I saw some interesting snow patterns in the front of my condo. The light was nice and I tried […]

  19. Love this post. Nice to see how others think and see when making their images.

    Can see coming back to this blog entry.

  20. […] looking for my Daily Image I was inspired by a post I had seen last week by Darwin Wiggett on his weekly photo.  I saw some interesting snow patterns in the front of my condo. The light was nice and I tried […]

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