Look the other way sometimes
It’s very easy to get fixated on a particular scene, composition or subject within that scene. Therefore it’s often good to keep your eye on what is happening around you. You may be surprised at what different photography compositions you might find.
I sometimes wish I had two sets of everything, so I could fix one on my intended image and use the other for what is happening around me, but unfortunately that is currently beyond my budget. Instead, I’ve learned to make judgement calls. If something interesting happens around what I am working on, then I must quickly decide whether or not it’s worth switching. Is the scene I am working on not happening right now? Or will the light remain stable enough for me to return to it? Is the moment happening around me fleeting? If so, I need to decide quickly if it warrants abandoning my current composition.
Karavanke Alps at dawn
The photo above, of the beautiful Karavanke Mountains on the border between Austria and Slovenia, was captured at dawn during a trip to photograph Jamnik Church on a hilltop in northern Slovenia. My intention that morning had been to shoot the iconic view of this church with the mountain peak of Storžič behind it during the blue hour. Upon arrival though, the lack of cloud behind the church was uninspiring. Nevertheless, as I looked off to the left I saw how the lovely soft twilight was illuminating the snowy peak of Mount Stol, the highest in the Karavanke range. From the path leading towards the church you get a nice view across to them, but a row of trees makes for a tricky composition. I had considered this composition many times before but knew it would mean a lot of sky. This morning the wispy clouds were just enough to provide some interest in that sky-filled frame. So I quickly found my vantage point and worked on that instead.
Again, one spring morning at the same location, I was helping a workshop participant get a shot of the church through some trees, when I turned to my right and saw this scene. Smoke from a nearby chimney was blowing past at the time. My camera was sitting idly on its tripod so I quickly spun it around, framed up and fired away before the smoke disappeared. I knew the scene we were working on would not change because the morning was clear and the light stable, so there was enough time to grab this fleeting moment before returning to the task at hand.
Many different photography compositions
I’ve photographed at Jamnik Church many times. At this popular photography spot I’ve watched how most people are totally absorbed by the magnificent scene in front of them. However, there are many different photography compositions in this area. If you also look off to the right, the views down into the valley and off towards the Ljubljana Basin are equally beautiful, especially when the mist rolls through.
And most people also don’t realise that far on a distant hill is another interesting church, the Church of Sveti Jost. On this particular morning I was actually alternating between great shots of the church with mountains behind as the colourful sunrise illuminated the sky, but also swinging round to capture this beautiful view.
When Mother Nature fails to provide
While on a sunrise shoot to capture the iconic Saint Thomas Church one morning, thick fog was obscuring the church and making it invisible for most of the morning. However, the fog was all down in the valley and the mountains were still visible.
I had hoped for a shot of the sun cresting the hilltops and the church also in the frame, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen on this morning. So I recomposed and focused on some different views. However, I still kept my eye on my prize composition and was rewarded eventually with a stunning moment. Read about that here:
When the fog gets in the way
Another time at the Church of Saint Thomas, I was trying to capture the moment when the Summer Solstice Sunrise would rise over the Kamnik Alps at its closest point to the church. But right at the moment the sun crested the mountain peak, a bank of thick fog blew past and completely obscured the whole scene.
Once again however, I just looked at the scene a different way, and captured this instead.
Ignore the famous views once in a while
It’s easy to get carried away with the fabulous scenes presented at iconic locations such as Lake Bled with its beautiful island church, hilltop castle and alpine mountain backdrop. On this particular evening the light was great after a rainstorm and I was shooting some great moments as the sun went down. For an instance, I turned around and saw this right next to me.
There are often many great different photography compositions that can easily go missed. So, in contrast to the old saying, don’t always keep your eyes on the road because what’s going on around you might be far more interesting. (Unless of course you are actually driving!)