Friday, January 01, 2010

Using the horizon

click photo to enlarge
I grew up in an area of hills, mountains and valleys in North Yorkshire. I currently live in a flat area of Lincolnshire. (Note to UK residents who have never been to Lincolnshire - contrary to popular belief much of the county isn't flat!) One of the things you find when you're making landscape photographs in an area of flat land is the importance of the horizon.

In recent weeks I've taken a few photographs that have used the device of a ragged horizon punctuated by a church spire, specifically those of Sutterton, Helpringham and Donington. In the case of Sutterton the main subject is supported by the details of the incoming clouds. The horizon in the Helpringham shot is helped by the colour gradations in the sky and the detail that is still discernible in the foreground fields. In the Donington photograph the foreground offers little interest, but the soft pink/orange of the sky prevents the image being too monochrome, and gives a little warmth. Those three images emphasise something else that you learn photographing flat landscapes: a good sky and finding foreground interest is really important. In hilly areas you can shoot upwards, downwards and across, and can often change your height relative to your subject to give emphasis or to create a composition. In the flatlands you are usually shooting across, and generally raise or lower your camera only to increase the relative importance of sky or foreground.

I was thinking about this the other day when I took another "horizon" shot, also featuring the church of St Mary and the Holy Rood at Donington. Remembering my previous early evening shot I looked for a different composition. The sky wasn't offering much so I positioned myself behind some snow-swept reeds that offered foreground interest. I took a couple of photographs. The first had the church in focus. However, I preferred my second attempt (above) with the reeds in focus and the church out of focus.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 110mm (220mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/1250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On