Lost in their World

General Thoughts
Microbial Mats — Lower Geyser Basin © jj raia

Microbial Mats — Lower Geyser Basin © jj raia

In the last post, I mentioned how you can lose yourself in the shapes, forms, colors and textures of the varicolored thermophiles that live in the warm waters of the hot springs throughout Yellowstone. But it is a challenge to extract just a small area of these grand explosions into a balanced and evocative image where a viewer is instantly drawn to one focal point of the complete design within the frame. There’s enough variety in just a small area to fill up hours creating images. And there is no rule that says you must have your camera level; you can tilt your camera anyway you feel the composition works. Unfortunately, because of damage that would result if people were allowed to walk on these microbial mats, we are restricted to boardwalks that are just a few inches above the waters and therefore to the immediate area near those boardwalks. Incidentally, all of these abstracts were taken through water and a polarizer helps immensely in eliminating any reflection from the surroundings and intensifies the color in doing so. I am thankful however, that photography has evolved into the digital age because otherwise, I would have gone through quite a lot of film and expense. This allows for more risk taking and experimentation.

The two images above were taken at the Grand Chromatic Spring while among the throng of tourists and are similar in tone to the one at the top. But there were many other colors as well.

Mustard Spring, Biscuit Basin — Yellowstone © jj raia

Mustard Spring, Biscuit Basin — Yellowstone © jj raia


Blue Waters — Lower Geyser Basin © jj raia

When there are deep pools associated with hot springs, many of them are too hot for even thermophiles to live. The absence of life in these waters makes for very clear and blue colors that are similar to the waters of the tropics.


Microbial Mat — Biscuit Basin © jj raia

There are just so many abstracts that can be made from the infinite combinations of color and textures.

To see any or all of these abstracts in full, just click on the tile.

When there is so much natural art from which to choose throughout these hot springs, it becomes very subjective what ends up within the frame of the camera and probably no two photographers will choose the same things. Making the choices and identifying the options in these abstracts is an excellent exercise in making those same decisions when the subjects are not abstracts. But the same themes generally apply; namely, balance and a focal point. Although some photos can rely more on a similar pattern or texture throughout the image for success, most successful ones do have one area or subject to which the viewer’s eye immediately gravitates, and from there, the lines, colors and textures coax the eye throughout the rest of the frame. But as in all rules of thumb, these can be broken as well, and what inspires the individual artist, translates into what the final image looks like.



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