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A Matter of Perspective: Using Isolation

When photographing landscapes, my typical modus operandi is to shoot wide. My Sony α7R II sits in my camera bag with a Sony FE/16-35 f/4 at all times; and 95% of the time, that’s the lens I need. Sometimes, however, shooting wide just doesn’t seem to work. That was the case on this beautiful fall morning at Lily Lake in Estes Park, Colorado.

During this road trip with my buddy Cliff Baise exploring fall colors throughout the Rocky Mountains, the Estes Park region was just on fire. Photographing fall colors is always an incredible experience but there’s just something spectacular about those aspens in Colorado and the way they glow during peak color.

The problem at this particular grove of aspens was that the trees weren’t all the dense. There was a storage building at the end of the path and the sky above the trees was free of any clouds. No matter what I did, I couldn’t find a good composition with my wide angle lens. At the time of this trip, I had just made my switch over to Sony and still had a few Canon lenses in the bag; so I threw on my 100mm macro lens and went to work. I had the shot in my mind that I wanted and refused to go away without getting it. After walking around for a bit, I found this isolated group of aspens through the brush. I knew if I set my aperture too high, the composition would feel cluttered, so I shot wide open at f/2.8, which turned all the glowing leaves in the background—along with the aspens behind the subject—to mush. I knew right when I saw the composition on my live view screen that I had the shot I envisioned. I walked away a happy camper that morning.

I don't travel with a lot of gear. I'm actually quite the minimalist in that regard. That said, I do try and make sure I have a few lenses to cover the spectrum of what I might need at any given destination. As I write this post I'm on a plane to San Luis Obispo to explore the central coast of California and lead a workshop. I'm bringing my α7R II and α7S for for landscapes and night sky images. For lenses I'm bringing (all Sony FE) a 16-35 f/4, 70-200 f/4, 55 f/1.8 and 90 f/2.8 macro. Two bodies, 4 lenses, endless possibilities!


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