Familiarity Breeds Creativity Not Contempt

January 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

As a landscape photographer, I travel a good bit to photograph the beauty that nature has to offer.  While I love getting to see these places first hand, it usually means that I will have about 1 to 2 hours to photograph the area in hopes of getting the right light and composition for my subject.  This means I do a lot of planning ahead of time and then cross my fingers that mother nature is kind to me.  If not, I may not be back for a while, sometimes years or maybe never again.  While all the planning usually allows me to come home with at least one photo that I am happy with having access to a place on a routine basis not only increases my chance of getting a great photo but also allows me more creative when determining my compositions.  By being able to visit a location in different weather conditions, different seasons and different lighting conditions allows me to experiment and take risks with different compositions knowing that if it doesn't work out I can come back another day and try again.

Take the lower cascades at Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina.  This beautiful waterfall beside carved out rock is only 45 minutes from my house allowing me visit as soon as I see the right weather conditions starting to happen.  I have photographed this waterfall numerous times and come away with compelling compositions each time but have not been back in while because the weather conditions never presented itself for the composition that I had in mind.  That all changed this past week when the temperature dropped below 20 degrees F and stayed below freezing for a couple of days. 

So one morning I headed down in hopes of capturing one shot, and one shot only.  Luckily, it was exactly as I had hoped!  The bottom pool was frozen solid containing wonderful cracks along with some air bubbles.  

20180105_JMS_HangingRock_0020-51120180105_JMS_HangingRock_0020-511The pool below the Lower Cascades at Hanging Rock State Park freezes solid

Lower cascades and pool frozen

The reason this ended up being the only shot I took (OK! OK!  I took one more but only because it presented itself, which is always a good thing!) was I had this composition already in my head and I knew from being familiar with the area that it was the composition that I wanted to capture for those conditions.  Now I could relax and just enjoy the scene knowing that I had captured the image that I wanted.  I have one more composition in mind but it will have to wait for another visit under much different conditions.

Here are some other compositions of the same waterfall but at different times, conditions, and seasons.  

Silkstone-141030_0064Silkstone-141030_0064Fall color at the Lower Cascades, Hanging Rock State Park.

Lower cascades framed by red leaves during the fall

20170425_JMS_HangingRock_0063-14520170425_JMS_HangingRock_0063-145Lower Cascade Falls after a heavy rain, Hanging Rock State Park, NC

Heavy rainfall produces an overflow of water below the falls.

Silkstone-141030_0056_49Silkstone-141030_0056_49Lower Cascades, Hanging Rock State Park, NC.

Fall leaves swirl at the base

So what's the moral of this story?  Find a place close to home you enjoy to photograph and be sure to visit it in different seasons, times and weather conditions.  Become familiar with the landscape and take risks with the compositions because if you don't like it, you can go back tomorrow.

OK, so I said one photograph.  Here is the other photograph I captured during this trip because who could pass this sight up?

20180105_JMS_HangingRock_0064-51020180105_JMS_HangingRock_0064-510Ice climber climbs frozen Lower Cascades at Hanging Rock State Park, NC Ice climbing at Lower Cascades in Hanging Rock State Park


Explore | Compose | Capture | Publish


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