I & I: Inspiration & Imagination
Other essays in this series

Hoseshoe Bend with a Twist

In my previous essay for the Reflections on Photography and Art series I promised to discuss a third image I created at Horseshoe Bend. Well, here we are.

I am very often asked how I create my images and how I find new compositions. The answer is not easy because it has everything to do with how I think and what my outlook on photography is. The best, if you are interested in getting a complete answer to this question, is to read my Photography and Aesthetics 11 part series, available in my articles eBooks. If you prefer a short answer to this question, read on. This answer won't be as complete as in my article series, but it will be different. Trade offs are not always a bad thing :-)

So how do I do it? Well, for one, each time I go to a location I previously photographed I go there with the goal of creating a new image, an image featuring a composition I have never created before.

This is what happened with the image above. I suddenly found myself, while walking the scene (see my article series for a description of this term), face-to-face with this stunning image. Why I had not seen it before, I don't know. Why I saw it on that particular day, I don't know either. What I do know is that at any given location there are an infinite number of photographs. They are there for the taking and all it takes to take them (alliterations are great, aren't they?) is I & I. Once you learn this, and once you make it your motto, you will never try to create a photograph you have seen before. Doing so will become a waste of your time, a boring activity that will take you away from creating brand new, exciting, never before seen photographs!

So how do you get into the I & I mode, so to speak. Well, it's quite simple. Just turn the left dial on top of your camera while pressing the top most left button on the right side of your camera, the one right next to the LCD panel. Just kidding. I wish it was that simple. But, cameras aren't there yet, not even the 1DsMark II (although it does have a secret I & I mode that you access by...) just kidding again, I just couldn't help it.

Let's get serious. There is only one way to access I & I : by pure will power. You will access it because you want it, need it, have to have it and because you realized once and for all that technology won't provide it to you. In short, and to sum it up as briefly as I can, it has to come from you.

But how do you do it? I mean how do you make it happen out there in the field? As someone said to me once: 5 years of study and 25 years of practice. You can adjust the numbers to fit your personal situation but eventually I & I relies heavily on practice and on experience. So much so that we spend a lot of time working on this particular aspect of photography during my workshops.

"That's all nice and cool but you haven't told me much really. How do you do it? What rules do you follow?" Rules? Who needs any rules? Well, OK. I did follow one important rule here, a rule I describe in great detail in my Composition Mastery Workshop on DVD and for which I provide examples and overlays: the S- Curve composition.

Horseshoe Bend with a Twist is composed along the lines (pun very much intended) of the S-Curve composition rule. That is why I titled it Horseshoe Bend with a Twist (that and also because when I first saw this composition it threw me for a twist ;-) The twist is the S-Curve in the image. The S-Curve is created by the Colorado river flowing around the Horseshoe Bend. I had previously created S-Curve compositions of the Colorado River in Horseshoe Bend. But, in this image, I pushed this composition one step further by extending the S-Curve composition onto the rock formation in the foreground. This rock formation visually becomes a natural extension of the river. The foreground forms an S-Curve itself, and when added to the S-Curve of the river, the S-Curve composition is carried throughout the whole image, to the exception of the sky.

So there you have it Ladies and Gentlemen. Case closed, matter explained, point made. Not really? Well, that's true. There is more to it, much more. What else? Let's talk about that in the next installment - Reflections on Photography and Art-5. Bookmark this site and come back soon!


All images are copyright © Alain Briot 2005
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