Move Your Body
Most of the people that will read this post already know one of the gold rules of photographic composition - moving around your location for different vantage points and compositions. But it does bear repeating.
When I first started in photography I was so excited to get to where I was going, I opened up my tripod and plopped it down and started clicking away with different settings and zoom factors. I generally came away with a keeper or two but missed so many other, and possibly better, compositions.
Over time, I listened to speakers at our local camera club, watched YouTube videos, or read articles stating that the approach I was using was dead wrong. They said when you don't get to your location, don't just set up your tripod and start clicking away. Take some time to study the entire scene. Move your body around the entire area - right, left, lower, higher, etc. Take your camera and look through the viewfinder to envision different possibilities. Try both landscape and portrait orientations to see which works best. Get on your belly (in my case, that's not very easy anymore), your knees or stand up to check out different vantage points. Look behind you to see what you may be missing. Most times I find doing this really opens up some great photographic opportunities.
To give an illustration of what I mean, I'll use two examples from a recent visit to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. One of my favorite areas of the Park is the Tremont section which is just before you reach Cades Cove and around the turnoff for Townsend. There is a wonderful cascade toward the end of the road heading in Tremont. Its located right before you reach the parking area. Its a bit of a steep slide to get to the water's edge but its really not too bad if you're careful.
Here is the "normal" composition you see most often. Its taken from the top of a large boulder, which highlights the nice curve of the cascade. Granted, I love this angle myself. But just don't accept it. Look around and see what else could be possible.
Even though it was getting dark, I took a minute to look around to find other opportunities. Was there a way to safely get across the stream? In this case, no, the water was too deep and moving much too quickly. Remember - safety first! But then I noticed some rocks that were downstream a bit that would allow me to move more in front of this cascade. So why not try it? By simply moving my body to another location, I was able to get this photograph.
I really like the way this photograph turned out too. Its completely different than the other angle but it shows more of the varied water movement coming over the cascade.
So on your next outing, don't immediately set up your tripod and settle for one spot. Investigate the location thoroughly for a while looking for many compositions. Get higher, lower, move right then left. I think you'll come away with more "keepers" than you might realize.
Keywords: #rrs, fine art, forest, great smoky mountain national park, landscape, long exposure, mouse creek falls, nature, nikon, reid northrup, rocks, stream, tennessee, trees, water, waterfall
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