Nature Story & Design Elements

As we were in Devils Garden, I was sitting, relaxing and enjoying some shade.  While chatting with one of the participants, I noticed this scene.  I was struck by the unique nature story that was in the mostly flat wall about 8 feet above ground.  How did this happen?  What caused this unique story?   It just seemed odd to have these stones left behind but none the less I found it very photogenic.

From a compositional perspective, I immediately thought of Freeman Patterson, who taught me that photography is organizing shapes into a pleasing composition.  An Evergreen tree is not a tree, it is a triangle, a face an oval, etc.  For me, this image was all about triangles sitting on a strong base of a rectangle.  See below for a diagram of just a few.  I believe you’ll see more once you see these.  Thinking about your images as shapes will help you create stronger more pleasing compositions.

This entry was posted in Creative, Essence, Inspiration, Utah.


  1. Paul October 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Oh, JB, I put those rounded stones in that slot a couple of years ago when I was in the same area… And now you know the rest of the story 🙂

    Just kidding.

    • john8276 October 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

      I was wondering it it was you Paul!

  2. Lynn sarda October 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes… saw it, shot it, and then described it. Wonderfully accomplished, John.

  3. Eli Ormsby October 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    Good photography is not just what you see, it’s how you think. Thanks for proving my point, John. 🙂

    • john8276 October 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      Well put Eli. I may steal that. Oh and add Feel… so see, think, feel.

  4. Don Montabana October 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Reminds me of the lessons I too was taught but by Harry Callahan, in the early 70s. I was a graduate student at Brown but was allowed to take a few courses at the Rhode Island School of Design. He would send us out on various assignments to sharpen our visual senses — one week looking up or looking down and other weeks looking for a variety of geometric shapes — and we were only ever allowed to use a 35mm lens (he didn’t feel that the 50mm was normal).

    • john8276 October 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Don. I’m not sure what “normal” is in photography… Appreciate your support of the blog.

  5. Luna Lovegood October 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm #


  6. Nancy T October 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Nicely seen! Mother Nature is the artist and you captured it…thanks for sharing this!

  7. Phyllis Burchett October 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Excellent John! You would make Freeman proud.

  8. Bill Starr October 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    This is interesting geometry in nature. Sorry Sorry I missed this when we went to the Devils Garden, but it does serve to remind me of the many compositional and design ideas I learned from you on the trip. You and Dan did a wonderful job in the planning and execution of the Escalante trip and are both great teachers. I also really appreciated the extra credit I got at the Gehry building in Vegas. I can’t wait to start processing those photos.

  9. Arthur Ransome October 4, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Terrific vision JB. But it isnt just about the composition. The colors are fantastic and are not overpowering. The lighting is spot on and adds dimension to the shapes. A lot to learn from in these images…

    • john8276 October 4, 2012 at 2:13 am #

      Thanks Arthur. I think I need to try a B&W conversion

      • Arthur Ransome October 4, 2012 at 3:38 am #

        B&W would be real interesting to see – there are a lot of mid tones in there…..

  10. MWS October 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Arthur’s right, B&W should be a stunner

  11. Mimi Mann October 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Great eye, John!!!

  12. Stephan October 5, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    An awesome lesson of visualization, discovery and composition… Did your entire group witness this – or just a few?

    It is amazing how to visualize, compare and share. Many focus on their own work and do not open to see beyond what is not seen or realized. For some it is obvious or overlooked. For others, there are endless possibilities and simply not enough time or memory to capture it all.

    The STF approach is an awesome concept… As we learned early on in life, Show-N-Tell is always educational, so, I would add “share (trade)” “STFS” (especially to those that were there at the given moment) to assist and see “that” much more… Just maybe, they have something to share as well (hence, the bonus of exchanged trade – eye-to-eye and win-win situation).

    BTW: I can easily visualize this as a b&w even though the colors are amazing!

  13. Dennis October 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Great image in so many ways. C’mon John, several comments and myself are clamoring to see you do your black and white magic to this image. Your composition is always on the mark.

  14. Brenda October 17, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    Well done and well-articulated, John.

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