On composing a new landscape

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For the third assignment in my Photo 6 Digital Camera Fundamentals class this past spring, the instructor asked us to practice the main principles of photographic composition. We had to choose a single subject and then make two images each that described each of the following composition choices: spot, line, shape, pattern, emphasis, balance, contrast of sharpness, contrast of light and dark, horizontal rule of thirds, and vertical rule of thirds. The purpose of the assignment was to extend the camera basics that we learned in assignment one and assignment two, and apply those basics to really make specific, deliberate choices while looking through the viewfinder.

I decided to make photographs of my wife’s beautiful landscaping and flowers around our front and back yards. We just celebrated my 10th anniversary of living in this home, and my wife and I have spent a lot of time in the last two years especially upgrading the yards. Each weekend, we’ve torn out sections of grass and worked up the barren stretches of hardpan one small area at a time, planting a patchwork of low-water plants, vegetables and herbs, and even a few dwarf citrus trees. The resulting photo set is far from comprehensive, in terms of all the small wonders we’ve managed to grow, but I think it captures a snapshot of where the yards had evolved in April 2012.

To make the photos, I used my Nikon D50 digital SLR camera and Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8 prime lens. I made the photos entirely with manual settings. As I reflect on the set now, a couple months later, I love studying all the imperfections in our yard. Living in a sprawling suburban city like Fresno, many homeowners tend to favor lots of straight lines and perfectly manicured lawns. We have composed an area that is much more irregular, much more of a mishmash, which I think reflects the way a landscape was meant to be.

3 thoughts on “On composing a new landscape

  1. Thank you, Gosia and Jessica! Tracy’s artichokes– originally one plant, now split into two giant limbs– really took off this year. We are about to hack them back to stumps this weekend, so they can start regenerating for next season. Already!

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