Story Behind the Lens

The scenery was just perfect! Absolutely breathtaking, and I wanted to capture every single moment on the trip. My mother and father surprised both my sister and I by following through on a New Year’s Goal we all made the previous year on out family ski trip in Colorado. We all wanted to go back to Switzerland to experience our childhood in Europe, and we got it! We flew into Zurich, Switzerland and then promptly boarded the Swiss train to get to St. Moritz.

In the photo below you can see my mom on the train! This photo makes me smile every single time. I love seeing her this way.

Back to the photo, above! As we were traveling from Zurich to St. Moritz we came across this landscape and I wanted to really capture the condensation trail from the airplane flying over the mountain. This reminded me of a Hollywood movie studio logo, and the blue sky was just incredible. Here is an additional shot with the condensation taking up more of the frame.

The Technique

Have you spotted it yet? The foreground subjects are blurry! Crazy right? One of my favorite techniques is HDR, because it not only helps with lowering highlights and bringing out shadows, but also makes colors stand out incredibly well. The reason the buildings are blurry is because the camera made the condensation trail the ‘single point’ and we were traveling in a ‘circle’ meaning the buildings are at the ‘circumference’.

But, let’s talk a little bit about the composition. What was I thinking about when I was composing the photo and how does that play out in the overall shot?

My thought process is the same always when taking a photo. Stage the objects in the photo the way you would like the photo be done. This may not mean anything to you at the moment, but it will soon when I bring out key photography rules like: the rule of thirds, a photo split in half, and others.

This means you need to see photos which you think are great design – other people’s photos – before you begin to really develop your own visual technique.

What am I supposed to pay attention to?

This is where the painstaking process comes into play, and where describing the photo to yourself, what you like about the photo, and what you don’t like about the photo is really the key to becoming a better photographer. It’s like a Sommelier asking you what your preference on wine is… how do you know? You haven’t been tasting wine on a daily basis since you were five years old. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have a general basis for what you enjoy as a person to drink.

How I would describe this photo.

The photo overall is very crisp, the foreground is blurred, but I guess this is due to the movement of the photographer. The mountain coming in from the lefthand side is really a key feature, and makes the streak look like a Hollywood movie logo almost… Paramount Studios right?

I really enjoy the way the streaks are coming into the photo. It’s like someone accidentally finger-painted a cloud in the photo. And I really enjoy the contrast this streak has with the mountain and the blue backdrop from the sky. This creates a very crisp feel.

What I don’t like about the photo is also what I like about the photo, the HDR effect is cool, but at the expense of blurring the foreground? I’m not so sure. I guess it deters more focus from the houses and puts it on the mountain which is good, but it just has that “not professional” feel to it overall.

How do you guys think I did? Would you add or subtract some comments?

Try it yourself, and send me your comments


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