Many times, especially when faced with an empty sky that was the recurring theme on this trip, the tendency is to minimize that area and emphasize the land within the image. But it is the simple, graphic nature of a scene when a large portion of the frame includes the sky, that can make it striking, and losing a sense of scale, can increase the awareness of the vast expanse contained within the scene. I opted for a different view of Mono Lake far from the famous tufa columns that I’ve visited on previous occasions, but never with such a flat, reflecting water surface. There were many similar images taken of Mono Lake (above) that evening, as the ripples from gentle breezes continually changed shape and location; this arrangement of them seemed to form a path which the viewer’s eye can pass through. And the same holds true for the image below. The winding stretch of water is the path to travel to reach further into the scene. But if a small element can be included that defines the scale, as with the swimming duck and flying bird below, then that sense of scale can be brought back into the image.
I saw this scene while driving along the highway, I jammed on the brakes, sending a lot of things sliding through the car, and when I backed up along the shoulder, I was again watched over by just missing a steady wire for one of the power line poles that ran parallel to the road. It would have caused considerable damage to the car and could have been a disaster. But as I set up for this shot and clicked off a few shots for proper exposure, I noticed this duck swimming toward my location way off to the left, outside the frame. I quickly shifted to a higher ISO in order to freeze the motion a bit, but never saw the flying bird until the file was on the computer screen in a much larger size than the back of the camera. I’m still conflicted as to whether it should remain in or cloned out since it may compete with the swimmer. Incidentally, the haze was the result of the horrific wildfires north of the San Francisco area, over 200 miles away! Something that hung around for several days, even obscuring the opposite side of Lake Tahoe.
When I first saw the long line of waves heading off to the horizon, the initial reaction was the enormity of the view and how insignificant I felt, but photographically, the frame could use an anchor in the foreground. Later, I found this solitary boulder that seemed so out of place but happy to soak in the morning sunlight as the winds pounded the spot without mercy. But here I keep the sky to a minimum since all the action was taking place below the horizon, and the line of surf was all that was needed to give the sense of grand space, accentuated by the use of a very wide angle lens. I had just come from the opposite side of this narrow spit where the winds were even worse, but I hunkered down and took some shots while I was wrapped by some blocking rock outcroppings. The image below, of the diminutive deer in the landscape, creates the sense of scale even though though a short telephoto was used. I didn’t zoom in as closely as I could have keeping in mind the bit of advice I received on last year’s trip that the world doesn’t need another perfectly exposed and sharp close-up of a buffalo; but rather take a shot of the animal in the surrounding landscape. Quite a few shots were taken of the deer, but in this one, she looked right at me for some time and I did have to boost the ISO to freeze the deer, plants and the ocean in the strong winds. If you look closely at the ocean, you can see the force of the wind whipping up the surface in continually changing patterns.