A New Frame

General Thoughts
Winter Branches No.2 - Jordan Lake, NC

Winter Branches No.2 — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

I have always preferred the 4:5 ratio for photographs since it translates easily into 8 x 10 or 16 x 20 prints; the standard when photography was in it’s infancy. It’s just a personal preferrance. When the 35mm film arrived on the scene with a new wider ratio of 2:3, it completely changed how people viewed prints since uncropped versions were now 8 x 12 or 16 x 24. While to me, horizontal images are grugingly acceptable, vertical images in this format always seem as though I am looking through a keyhole. Two of the reasons I finally jumped from medium format film into digital three years ago was: a camera came out with enough resolution (36 megapixels) to compete with film, but just as importantly, it actually showed a 4:5 ratio by darkening the edges in the viewfinder!! I normally don’t crop much, but when I do, it is usually into a square, so I really liked the idea of only seeing exactly what I wanted to include in the final image. An added bonus for the 4:5 is that when traveling, or any other reason for recording several hundred, or even a few thousand images, many more will fit on the memory card before you need to replace it. For my camera, a 32GB card will hold 477 raw images at 4:5, but only 399 at 2:3.

Winter Branches No.1 Clean - Jordan Lake, NC

Winter Branches No.1 — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

The other day I planned to meet a fellow photographer at one of my favorite spots on Jordan Lake for a sunrise but while driving there, I noticed that the sky was completely void of clouds. There was no rush of anticipation for a spectacular scene of clouds lighting up as it neared sunrise; no sense of urgency to get there. I would have considered returning home, but the promise had been made and I dutifully went to the pre-arranged location. I decided to search for a more narrow view to photograph since a wide angle including much of the bald sky did not seem like the way to go. So on went the 70-200mm lens and I began playing with some bare branches along the road overlooking the lake, but could never seem to find the correct balance between the near branches and the distant trees on the far shores. There always seemed to be some distracting element or other problem until, after struggling for a while and worrying about losing the light, I opened up the frame to it’s full 2:3 ratio. Then things began to fall in place with more balance and seemingly, there were fewer distrtactions. But had I not changed formats, in a very short time the color would have been washed out and the moment lost. So, I’ll have to keep the 2:3 format in mind more often in the future because, not only does it open up the frame, it opens up more options just as wider panoramas do.

The big problem with these two images I discovered during processing was that the still waters, when zoomed in @ 100%, contained literally thousands of pieces of “crud” floating on it’s surface. It took alot of diligence and determination to eradicate each and every one of them in Photoshop, really testing my patience. But after a few days! I was able to say they were finally all gone.

Note — I went to this same spot about three weeks after taking these two photos and was saddened to discover that the young trees in the first image had been chainsawed down, for what reason I couldn’t figure out. There had been several instances when I still lived in New Jersey where I revisited a spot and found that the scene had been destroyed by a bulldozer, but it never occurred to me that something like that would happen here, especially on Jordan Lake. I was deeply disillusioned.




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