Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 12, 2009

You can see a lot just by looking

Filed under: Birds, composition, light, style — Tags: , , — richditch @ 10:59 pm
Mourning Dove - Rio Salado, Phoenix, AZ

Mourning Dove - Rio Salado, Phoenix, AZ

When I go out to take photos I rarely have a particular subject in mind. I find that far too limiting, and I think it can lead to a false evaluation of the results. It is easy to think you’ve done “good work” if you worked hard at producing a preconceived image, and the amount of time and energy put into the process can cloud your judgement on how well you have actually done.

Instead, I try to keep an open mind, stay observant, and take advantage of whatever opportunities I stumble upon. And as Yogi Berra purportedly said: you can see a lot just by looking.

This Mourning Dove is an example. I had made a stop at the Rio Salado – a restoration area on the dead Salt River immediately south of downtown Phoenix. I didn’t expect much in the way of photos based on past visits, but the area has attracted some surprising rarities so it is worth a visit now and then. I’d not taken any shots and was walking back up to the parking lot when I noticed this dove sitting beside the trail. I was struck by the way the dove was facing into the sun and how nicely it looked against the shadowed hillside behind it.

Composition: I’ve kept the dove smallish in the frame. Although I regard it as the subject of this image, I feel the dark areas are an important part of it. Together, they help create a restful mood. The branch the dove is sitting upon catches the light nicely and acts as a leading line to pull the viewer’s eye into the image from either side. I’ve positioned the dove so that there is more space in front of the bird – the direction in which it is looking.

Style: This is very typical for me: understated colors overall (just the tiny feet and the subtle eye-ring dress up the image); the subject doesn’t come anywhere close to filling the frame; the light  is directional; shadows define the form and give the subject a third dimension; there’s a peaceful mod to the image.

So, don’t make up your mind what you are going to photograph before you go out, and don’t overlook the commonplace as it can make a good subject for a pleasing image.


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