I just returned from a fantastic trip to the Eastern Sierras. It is hard to beat just roaming around with your camera in hand, no schedules, just exploring and looking for images. Watching the sunrise slowly scroll down Mt Whitney and jagged Sierras is sublime. With such spectacular scenery, diverse locations and fall color, Cree and I have decided run a workshop there next fall…stay tuned!
One style of image that was abundant is what I call compression landscapes. This is just another way of saying put on your longest telephoto lens, and find the strongest graphic shot in the scene. Take a look at this shot of the Alabama Hills. This area is loaded with great landscape images, from wide angle to long lens images. But after I got the shot at the beginning of this post, and the light started to change colors, I was looking for more interesting images. The wide angle images weren’t looking as good since the warm orange sunrise was over. But looking at the Sierra crest, I saw some stunning spires shrouded in a cloud. This was just a tiny part of the scene, but if I put on a long lens I could extract this graphic scene from the big picture.
I put on my 500mm PF 5.6 and focused on the distant spires. Now the shot looked much more powerful and graphic. I simply narrowed down the scene to a strong graphic element. It is easy to get the blinders on photographing landscapes. You have your wide angle lens on, and all you see are big scenes. But try to see the scene from all focal lengths and perspectives. You might find a gem hidden the middle of that wide angle landscape.