Tag Archives: composition

“My Safe Place”

“My Safe Place”

“Our eyes are drawn to things, often not knowing the specifics. Trust your instinct and study what they are trying to show you.”
– Ed Lehming

There have been countless times where I have been drawn to a composition; some seemingly random object or scene, not knowing at the time why I was moved to photograph it. Then, on reviewing the image during my editing process some marvelous detail reveals itself.

It’s those times that I am so grateful for this ability to ‘see’ unseen things in my photography and somewhat saddened that I have ignored it for many years. It seems to be an intuitive thing and I wonder if only some of us have it? People tell me I have an ‘eye’ for composition and I know it’s not something I have learned, it’s always been there. I suppose I have refined it through repetition and experience but it still surprises me. I also wonder what life would be like if I could not filter it. Would I spend my days staring in amazement at everything I behold?

Then, there are times like this. While making photos of a waterfall recently,  I noticed a chipmunk sitting on a rock. I don’t normally make images of chipmunks, as I’m not big on ‘cute’ images. However, I stopped to make a few images of this fellow as he cleaned himself atop the rock. He did not even seem to mind me as I approached him for a closer shot.

As a processed the photos I had to laugh. The chipmunk is perfectly safe where he is and knew I would not approach much closer, as he is completely surrounded by a healthy patch of poison ivy. I would have noticed if I had gotten closer, but from my vantage point and focusing on the chipmunk, I had not noticed it.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

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“Delicate and Complex”

“Delicate and Complex”

“The deeper one looks into what appears simple, the more complex it really is. Even the very delicate and wispy structures show there is more to them than meets the casual eye.”
– Ed Lehming

The natural world is continually amazing. The simple and commonplace are not what they appear. Living forms are incredible in their diversity and design.

Take the simple dandelion seed head. It looks like a fluff ball, a novelty for children and adults alike. But really look at it. Look deeply and deliberately and it’s absolutely stunning how it’s designed. Hundreds of seeds per flower, each with their own feathery parachute, wait for a breeze strong enough to disperse them far from the parent plant. The wind creates just enough of a pull to dislodge the seed from the  base. Not enough wind and the seed remains anchored.

For this image I first had to find a seedhead that was largely intact. Not an easy task as it has been quite breezy the past few days. Ideal for the dandelion, not so much for me. When I found a good specimen, I had to decide on my composition and depth of field. Getting the right  depth of field also meant I needed good light, as I also had to contend with a slight breeze, meaning I also needed a fairly fast shutter speed. Not so simple a task when shooting without the benefit of a tripod.

In the end I got a couple of images that I was happy with. If I wanted to do more, like have the entire seed head in focus, I would have to bring one into my studio for a much longer exposure and some focus stacking. Perhaps another day. For now, I’m pleased that the detail is there while still keeping the image a touch soft, matchined the image title nicely.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/160 sec, f/22.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“End of Autumn?”

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” 
― Jim Bishop

I know, I’m a bit behind. This image was made on December 20th of last year. This image keeps popping up as I review my photos and I knew that I wanted to post it at some point soon. That time has now come.

This is actually an odd image in that the leaves are actually compressed by multiple snowfalls and thaws, three or four to my recollection, to the point in time when I made the image. The oak leaves, which dominate this scene hung onto the trees until early November this past autumn, which is odd as well.

The main reason I keep going back to this image is that most of my time spent on the trails is enjoying the scenery around me; the trees, the sky, the rolling hills, and such. Yet, I do spend even more time looking at the ground, as I navigate my way along trails, watching my step. Yet, I rarely consider the ground as a subject for my photos. I could actually create a whole series of interesting images documenting even a small section of the trail, since the composition changes so much over even a few meters.

The forest floor documents the surrounding forest so well. All the species of trees are proportionately represented here. In this case, it’s primarily red oak, with some sugar maple, and a smattering of poplar. There is also great variation in the colours of the leaves. Here the oak leaves vary from deep copper to pale yellow.

It’s like a painting made of leaves and I’m disappointed that I have not made more of these. They are so interesting and, if composed correctly, a very natural form of art.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/120 sec; f/1.8; ISO 40

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Simple Beauty”

“Beauty is subjective, yet there are times when even the simplest thing can bright joy to our lives.”
– Ed Lehming

One of the many reasons that I spend time outdoors hiking and making photos is the sheer joy of seeing something breathtaking in what many would consider mundane circumstances.

Many of the trails I’ve hiked, I have hiked hundreds of times and yet, almost every time, I see something new and wonderful. It may be a new flower where none has bloomed before, or a new sapling emerging from a decaying stump, or simply the way light catches the growth at a certain time of day or year.

It’s scenes like this, within a planted forest in transition, that make me stop and look deeper. Beneath the canopy of planted red pines, new growth emerges in the form of young red pines and beech trees. There are other shrubs emerging too but the bright green of the pine and the twinkling gold of the beech trees in the afternoon sunlight is almost magical to me and they stand out from the scene. It may be a simple composition, but it does what I intend, it captures the ‘feeling’ of this small patch of forest on a late December afternoon, through colours and texture. And for me, that is beautiful. I can almost feel the rough bark of the pines and hear the birds singing high in the branches above me.

As I have often said, it’s not always the grand vistas that amaze me, even more so, it’s the simple beauty right in front of me that most would pass by without a second glance.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/40 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

Iceland Journal – “Djúpavogshreppur” – East Iceland

“Djúpavogshreppur” - East Iceland

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 
― Rachel Carson

I couldn’t help but match my favourite Rachel Carson quote with this image. The scene above left me breathless as I beheld it for the first time. I was captivated be the shape of the high mountains which bound this relatively short Eastern Icelandic fjord, Hamarsjörður, and the stunning play of light on both the peaks and the flanking foothills. When I return to Iceland, next time, I plan to spend more time travelling these spectacular fjords.

In the foreground is Nontindur, a stunning 935 meter high pyramid-like peak. I was enthralled by these mountains the first time I saw them, the recent high level snowfalls accenting the horizontal tiers that make the peaks in this region so unique.

The light that morning, as we followed the Ring Road along the southern coast eastward from the town of Höfn, was absolutely gorgeous and makes the ever-present yellow grasses glow with a soft golden warmth that we experienced so many times on our journey. I was concerned that travelling to Iceland at this time of year might make for some fairly dull images, but was so pleased when I revisited these locations in Google Street View to find that the light and colours that I experienced were by far better than that of summer, at least in the Google images.

As I composed the shot, from the side of the road, all the elements came together once more to produce this post card-like image that so wonderfully conveys the feelings I experienced while standing there, taking in the beauty.

In this case, as in several other shots I have been sharing, I deliberately put an object in the foreground to help establish scale. In this case, the freshly installed and sharpened fence post nicely echoes the shape of the mountains behind it and seems to be pointing to the peak itself.

Once more, I’m including the Street View link so you can also take in the surroundings that make up this shot. This is the exact spot I pulled off. You can even see the gate and fence post in the foreground 🙂

https://www.google.com/maps/@64.6428971,-14.4986801,3a,75y,263.14h,75.52t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s4Vekihp9U0MLxbbRcHPAsg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

“Dominant”

“Dominant”

“Taking time in stillness is an essential part of my every day. It saves my sanity, it grounds and centers me. I can carry that peace with me wherever I go.” 
― Akiroq Brost

Welcome once more to a moment in the forest, this time a warm, dry, and largely mosquito free sojourn into the green.

As I hike these trails, often 10-15 km at a time, I pass many wonderful scenes and many, many trees, yet every so often a scene presents itself which makes my pause on my journey and a photo come together.

In this image, a large sugar maple dominates the scene just on the edge of a hemlock grove.

Titles for my images often come to me as soon as I start composing the image and I often find myself wondering what particular elements of the image prompted that though process. So, I consider this image. Dominant. Yes, this maple is the largest tree in the scene, it has more texture, and is in the foreground, but I see these scenes many times along my hikes. So, what is it about this particular tree that brings that word to mind above the rest of the moments I experience?

I think, in this case, it’s simply the placement of the tree, just to the left of a game trail. It almost welcomes me to enter an partake. The next thing I see is an exposed rock, reflecting the warm sunlight, followed by the glow of an exposed stump, and the journey continues. In the end, it’s the combination of light and line that seems to start with this one tree. It’s the anchor and the beginning and dominant, yet not imposing or threatening. Interestingly, a made another image of it from a slightly different angle and the scene lost all it allure.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/4 sec, f/14.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Pondside Tamarack”

“Pondside Hemlock”

“It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for a reason to be happy or sad, you will always find it.” 
― Kamand Kojouri

In this hectic world, I am usually looking for things that bring me peace. I find this peace in simplicity and often in the most obscure things.

Last weekend I went out with the intention of going on an extended hike and make some photos of my experience. It’s been too long since I have been on the trails. Between extremely hot weather and a chaotic work schedule, finding the time and conditions to get out has just been a challenge lately. So when I found a few hours, I decided to take that time and get out there, simply to recharge. It was still hot and humid, but bearable. As I entered the familiar forest trail I was greeted by a cloud of mosquitoes unlike anything I have ever experienced. Despite a healthy application of bug spray, I was still overwhelmed by them and resigned myself to head back to the car.

Disappointed in the conditions, I decided to head to a different trailhead and try my luck. Despite this disappointment, my eyes are always drawn to something unique, some play of light, or interesting from, and as I walked back to the car I noticed this tamarack branch, covered in cones with a large pond in the background. I looked through my viewfinder, the composition formed nicely and offered me this image.

Such a simple moments brings peace to me and looking at the photo now, a few days later, it transports me back to that moment and the calm that ensued.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com