Keeping Perspective

Perspective is an important element in photography. When I turned around to check on my fellow walkers, I snapped this shot. The side rails on the former railroad bridge provided an excellent example of perspective. Having my wife and friends in the shot also added the perspective of size. The perspective of depth is also demonstrated. The eye goes beyond the walkers far down the bicycle and walking trail.

The photo was taken on High Bridge, the centerpiece of High Bridge State Park, Farmville, Virginia.

“Keeping Perspective” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2019

A photographer’s perspective

This iPhone photo was taken hand-held through a birder’s spotting scope. The Bald Eagle was a quarter of a mile away.

I enjoy taking photos. According to my son, that would be a significant understatement. At last count, I have close to 60,000 on my laptop, and that doesn’t count the older photos and slides packed away in a closet.

Why so many? I like to make sure I have at least one good photo of the subject I am trying to capture. In the good old days of film, I never knew what I was going to get until the prints came back from the processing lab.

Shooting low creates interesting results.
Digital cameras changed all that. You likely have seen people snapping photos, and then checking the back of their cameras or cell phones to see if what they took was what they wanted. Were everyone’s eyes open? Was the photo in focus?

Clearly, photographers can be picky. They also are creative.

I often photograph alone. However, I especially enjoy going on both planned and spontaneous photo outings with others.

While in Florida, I participate in a photo club that periodically holds scheduled photo walks to specific locations with equally selected assignments.

The subject matters often feature particular events. We have shot city Christmas light displays, carved faces in trees, done architectural photography, moon rises, sunsets, landscapes, and birds to name a few.

We sometimes debrief around a meal at an outing’s conclusion. We are asked to share at least one of our images with the group. The photos are then critiqued, which I always find most helpful.

I am always amazed at the shots of the other photographers. It is astounding and informative to see the different perspectives that are presented. I learn a lot and wonder why I didn’t shoot the scene from that angle.

I might have a decent snapshot of a great blue heron preening, while a friend has zoomed in on the finite details of the bird’s feathers. The textures, colors, and intricacies are breathtaking. Others create abstract shots of the ripples in the water, distorting the bird’s reflection like one of those crazy circus mirrors.

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Each person adds his or her own thoughts to the photo being analyzed. This approach enriches the photograph’s vibrancy and character. The critique suggestions help enhance the picture and the photographer, not ridicule, embarrass or judge them.

A friend, who is an expert photographer in her retirement, photographs the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean every morning. She shares the results on social media a few hours later to the delight of her many followers.

Having been on the beach nearby, I am amazed at what she has captured compared to what I have chosen. We shoot the same scene from different angles and viewpoints. Her photos are just as valid, yet they vary despite the fact we were simultaneously photographing the same subject at the same time.

These experiences enrich my understanding of perspective, a most essential ingredient in photography, creative arts and in life itself. We view the same scene, but based on our life experiences, beliefs, biases, goals, and focus, we can come away with differing viewpoints.

Ohio's Amish country
Letting the subject dictate the perspective.
One photographer’s technique isn’t necessarily better than another’s. They are just different.

I learn from life’s global variables. It fosters respect and admiration for one another and the creative gifts shared, especially when divergent viewpoints are appropriately expressed.

Perspective’s diversity seasons our varied menus and transcends any photographic circles. Wouldn’t the world be a more peaceful, enjoyable, hospitable place if we emulated photography’s objectivity in our daily human interactions?

How we answer that question can alter for good or for ill the perspective of all those we encounter.

My morning photographer friend Lea.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2019

A rainbow brought a new perspective

rainbows, morning rainbow, storm clouds, rain, Bruce Stambaugh
Morning rainbow. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

By Bruce Stambaugh

It looked like another dreary fall day in Holmes County, Ohio. The forecast called for more rain, and chilly temperatures.

I sat sullenly eating my bowl of cereal. To the west, dark storm clouds gathered.

Suddenly things brightened up outside. The sun had broken through the morning haze, and in an instant, the world was full of light. I ran for my camera.

My eyes moved to the horizon a mile northwest of us. A white farmhouse glowed in the low, sharp-angled sun rays. The oaks and maples around the house radiated their peak colors.

Then I noticed Fryburg, the little crossroads that features a cemetery, a white clapboard church building, and a white house. The sun highlighted its deciduous trees, too.

The farmstead behind our house was equally illuminated. I snapped a picture from our back porch. I looked northeast and saw the top of another neighbor’s sugar maple wonderfully lit. I got that one, too.

The closer the storm clouds came, the greater the contrasts. I zoomed in on two maples split by a faded farm gate leading to a pasture high on the hill behind our house.

I thought I was done taking pictures, until I realized I had only just begun. A brilliant, short, stubby rainbow connected the approaching storm clouds with the golden earth below.

I had been so focused on the pretty details all around me that I had failed to see the obvious, a much more beautiful big picture. In my haste to capture specific images, I had overlooked the stunning scene in its entirety.

The complete setting was like a jigsaw puzzle of a lovely landscape. I had been photographing individual pieces of a much prettier picture. Once I saw the countryside as a whole, however, I clicked away, occasionally zooming in on the rainbow itself.

I couldn’t believe how short, wide and brilliant the rainbow was. Just as it began to grow into that familiar arch, the rainbow disappeared altogether. Clouds interfered with the sun’s rays, reducing the refracting light through the raindrops that create the sky’s promise.

Later I went to a local business, and took my camera to share my photos with the staff there. Before I could say anything, one person after the other asked me if I had seen the rainbow.

“Wasn’t it amazing?” I asked. When they began to share what they had seen, it didn’t resemble mine at all. For them, the rainbow was to the left, thin, and arching high into the sky. My short, fat rainbow was to the right of the storm.

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Their perspective on the rainbow was much different than mine. Yet, we had viewed the exact same thing.

Isn’t that the way with the world though? What we think is absolute and certain turns out not to be that way. All it takes is trustworthy input on the subject from a different perspective.

The two angles of viewing the same grandeur were legitimate, true, and exhilarating. As spectacular as my view was of the rainbow, those captured from a different angle were equally stunning.

Neither perspective was right or wrong. They just were, and both were amazing. What an important life lesson we had learned.

I was overjoyed to see the rainbow from my vantage point. To see the same scene from another’s perspective made it even more spectacular.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014

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