There is a very beautiful photo which has etched itself into my memory. It was taken in Iceland and showed a black sand beach and a mirror smooth, blue green sea with snow white icebergs looming up out of the water. There were also smaller stranded icebergs on the sand leading down to the water. Two things made the photo so special; first was the incredible depth of field that made it seem to go on forever. Second was the height perspective-it looked as if the photographer had his camera sitting right on the sand when he took the photo. I wish I could show it to you but I saw it only for a moment on a nature show on television. It made such an impression on me that I’ve never forgotten it, and over the last few weeks I’ve tried to re-create it here in New Hampshire, with somewhat disappointing results. It takes a fair amount of thought and planning to create the illusion of three dimensions in a flat, two dimensional space, not to mention the often large amount of time it takes to find the scene in the first place, so I’m going to show them-disappointing or not.
We don’t see too many icebergs here in New Hampshire but we have plenty of rocks, so I tried to show them looming up out of the water like the icebergs in my remembered photo did. It didn’t really work in this river view-the rocks didn’t loom quite the way I wanted them to, even though the camera was almost sitting in the water. Now that I see the photo I think I had the camera too close to them, even though in reality it seemed much farther away.
This didn’t work either. I think it would have worked better if the waterfall wasn’t there, or was farther off in the distance. The idea is to have the horizon stretching off into infinity and the waterfall is too close for that. The rocks were looming a little more though. There was a drunken cedar waxwing sitting on one of them, waiting for me to leave so he could eat some more fermented dogwood berries.
Not really what I was after, but getting a little closer as far as depth of field goes.
In the forest this view seemed to go on and on but there are so many trees that they look more like a wall, rather than converging on a point in the distance as they really were. It’s amazing how the camera can create such a flat scene out of what was a good example of depth perspective. In this case I think if I had raised the camera up off the forest floor a bit it might have worked. It took quite a few tries to find what I thought was the perfect spot, so this one was especially disappointing.
This view of an abandoned road doesn’t work at all. The scene is so distorted you’d think I used a fisheye lens. Something that doesn’t help here is the fact that, though the yellow line was once in the middle of the road, nature has been growing over one side more than the other. If you want to show the yellow line the scene is now skewed, with more open space on the right side of the line than the left.
This shot has depth but the light is far too harsh and the only thing looming is an old dry leaf. Again, a long walk and a lot of time and experimentation for something that isn’t even close to what I was trying for.
Another one with some depth, but again the light was too harsh. I almost fell in getting this one-the rocks I was trying to crouch down on were small and slippery.
The pond weeds in the foreground help this one, but it’s not a very interesting scene.
This was a hard shot to get. Too bad it isn’t what I was hoping for. The camera should have been lower and even though I knew that at the time there was no way to get it there without either going for a dip or crawling around in a patch of poison ivy.
This shot of Mount Monadnock probably comes closest to what I was trying to do but it’s still not quite there, so I’ll have to keep trying. I think a large part of the problem is that the landscape views that I’m seeing aren’t really comparable to the iceberg photo. But, because of this experiment if the view I’m looking for ever presents itself I think I’ll at least know what not to do when I try to get a shot of it.
Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. ~Ansel Adams
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