#TechniqueTuesday – Receding Lines & Shapes

It’s Technique Tuesday! This excerpt is from my how-to book, The New Art of Photographing Nature”.

Karst mountains, Guilin, China. 80-200mm lens (in 200mm range), f/11 @ 1/60 sec, Fujichrome 50

THE ELEMENTS OF DESIGN: RECEDING LINES AND SHAPES

In the shot of the karst mountains in Guilin, China, I wanted to emphasize their repeating pattern and unusual shapes: individual humps instead of long ridges. I used my 80-200mm lens to zero in on an area that I felt made the strongest statement.

The second shot was taken a few minutes from my home in Seattle. I grew up in this neighborhood, and as a boy, I loved this path especially, with its graceful madrona trees.  I went back to photograph it forty years later.

Madrona trees in mist, Washington. 45mm lens, f/22 @ 4 sec, Fujichrome Velvia 50

Spatially, light objects stand forward of dark in our normal experience of perception. When we have atmosphere such as fog, however, it is the reverse; dark objects are closer to us than light ones, as in the mountain scene. We understand this perceptually because atmospheric haze intervenes and makes the far mountains paler and less distinct. This is sometimes referred to as “atmospheric perspective.”

We also understand crisp outlines as close and fuzzy ones as distant, as with the trees in the fog, which is contrary to normal perception, where we can see distant objects in focus as well. The sense of space in both these images is definitely enhanced by the fog. Forms are more noticeable without competition from intricate detail. The tree trunks stand out more without the busy clutter of foliage.  Because it shrouds things from view, fog, more than any other atmospheric condition, creates mood and a sense of mystery.

For more how-to lessons, purchase The New Art of Photographing Nature in my online store!

One Response to “#TechniqueTuesday – Receding Lines & Shapes”

  1. Great lesson, thank you very much. Greetings from Brazil.

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