Category Archives: Fall Color

Leaning in or Leaning out? Further discussion.

Thanks to all who shared their thoughts about the last two posts.  I posted the two leaning tree images, as they generated an interesting discussion in the field while making them. When Dan (tour partner) showed me the first image (below) with what some of you see as a tree leaning out, I too had the same reaction. It felt like the tree was leaning out of the frame. He responded by saying “I see it as an element that is directing the eye into the frame.” Commenter Rad, has done a good job of articulating what Dan and then I ultimately saw, thus prompting me to make the capture. “The leaning out image for me has a circular, repeating motion to it. I find my eye following the leaning tree into the frame at the bottom, across to the yellow trees on the right, and then up and to the left to do it all over again. The vertical lines are less figural and play a supporting role to the lead characters of the leaning tree and the two yellow trees on the right.” So, at this point, I would argue that the leaning tree in the first image is actually leading the eye into and not out of the frame.


Now, lets look at the other image. This one, most agree, has the tree leaning into the frame.  Again Rad does an excellent job breaking down what my eye is doing.  “The one leaning in takes me in a clean, horizontal but staccato ride from left to right. It’s about the horizontal line of color contrasted with the staccato rythym of the vertical lines of the trees. I can almost hear it as a cymbal crash, followed by a drum beat with a thread of yellow “melody” holding it all together. For me it flows in one direction – left to right- and exits at the right.” Man, I love the drum and cymbal analogy! Thanks Rad.


I think it instructive to reiterate what commenter Frank said as it is why I added the leaning tree to each composition. “This is a great example of a comp(composition) based on a pattern and a break in pattern, with all the verticals except for one. ” Frank is correct about adding an element to break a pattern. Pattern images are fine, however, when we add an element that breaks the pattern, we add visual interest. This element may direct the eye in a very clear way. Other times it may simply break the pattern giving the eye a place to go and then bounce back to the pattern. I’ve cloned out the leaning tree in the image below to illustrate. I think the leaning tree makes for a more interesting and impactful image.


As evidenced by the varied comments, there appears to be no right or wrong image. We each see or read images differently. Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for you. And fight for your vision by the way. Just because someone does not agree, this does not make them right and you wrong. 

Lastly, I believe discussions like this are important. Not enough people carefully assess their (or others) images. Doing so allows you to make a more thoughtful decision about your composition in the field. 

Which image do I prefer? The second one.

Leaning Towards You

_DSF5180In keeping with the previous post, this image was made in the same location with yet another leaning tree. So, once again, what are your thoughts on this composition? How do you feel about the direction of the leaning tree as compared to the one in the previous post? (image show below)



Leaning into you


A favorite stand of Aspen. What drew me to this was the more open feel as opposed to a wall of color. To me this is much more interesting as it adds a graphic element, and a sense of story. A wall of color can be pretty but tends to look more like a postcard. 

I’m curious, how do you feel about the leaning tree on the left side of the frame?


Horse in the Aspen




While waiting for the clouds to move and light up the grand landscape we were focused on, off to the right this little scene was happening. I waited for soft diffused light to illuminate the horse and the pasture. Of course a stand of colorful aspen didn’t hurt either.

As a side note. This was shot with the 16:9 aspect ratio available with my Fuji X-T1. I use the three different choices (1:1, 16:9 and 2:3) often as a way to pre-visualize how it will look. I do not lose any data as the full 2:3 raw file is left intact. But, when I open it in Lightroom, I see the in-camera crop which is nice. If I want to see the full 2:3 image, I simply click the crop tool and there it is.

Evergreen Impression

_DSC0309-EditAnother multiple exposure. This time adding the ubiquitous evergreen trees. In the past, I had not considered adding evergreens to my compositions for fear they were too heavily weighted visually. This year, I was actually drawn to them and found them to add interest.

One of the things I suggest we bring with us as we make our images, is our ever maturing sense of composition. Each year we photograph we learn more, and thus mature in our ability to see and compose. We also learn from others, and add that to our visual vocabulary. I believe this is exactly what happened for me here. It’s been three years since I’ve been to Colorado. I’ve learned and grown as a photographer, and this image is a more mature composition for me. 

As always, I’m interested to know your thoughts. 

Aspen Colors


I was drawn to the yellow stand of aspen set against the more colorful stand in the background. Typically the aspen tree turns yellow, so it’s nice to find splashes of other colors to add to your composition. I tend to like aspens in soft light as you’ll see in upcoming posts, however, on this stand, the backlight was very soft and seemed to be making the foreground trees glow.

Fall Pocono Workshops – Topaz Adjust Sale


Fall is fast approaching with spots left for both the week long and weekend workshop in the Poconos. Come on and join the fun! All images in this post are from the Poconos.

Through the end of the month my friends at Topaz are offering their award winning ADJUST for 50% off!  Click on this link and use the code augadjust at check out.

There are still a few spots left for our B&W focused February tour with special guest Chuck Kimmerle.  Click on the TOURS tab above to see the details.










Hey, Another Right Answer!

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I found this wonderful scene while leading a recent workshop on Cape Cod.  The lead image is the one that I settled on as my favorite. I think the story of how I arrived at this image is worthy of sharing.  I sent the image to my friend Dan who is my goto guy for feedback.  He suggested the crop below as another possibility.  Interesting, Dan tends to see in neat tidy compositions as he is prone to use his 70-200 with a 1.7x teleconverter.  As such he will isolate and drill down.  I like his crop!

20131109_Cape Cod_0218Dan

Inspired by Dan’s thoughts, I decided to show Dan the original image I shot.  Another right answer! (See below)

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As you can see, my first shot and initial instinct was to include the water but then I zoomed in a bit and excluded the water. Hey, another right answer!

My hope is that this series of images drives home three important ideas.  First, look for more than one right answer when you’re shooting. I could have made the first image and walked away, but I didn’t.  I kept looking to see what else might be there. Second, work the composition both in the field and in post processing.  There is nothing wrong with cropping your images!  In fact, I think you’ll be surprised at how many other right answers you will find with the crop tool! And third, we all see differently.  There is no one right answer, rather there are almost always more right answers and yours will be different than mine and that is just fine.  So, stop thinking in terms of right and wrong and focus on what feels right and go with that!


Alien Skin Snap Art 3 Does Fall Foliage!

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This image was created from a 9 image multiple exposure of a hillside of color in New Hampshire.  I then used Alien Skin Snap Art 3 to further enhance the painterly look.  Here is what I did. In Snap Art I selected the fine brush preset.  Next, I tweaked the preset by making the canvas transparent, backing off on the color saturation and adding more photo realism (its a slider).  Snap Art will automatically make a new layer, so once it loaded into Photoshop, I blended the BACKGROUND and SNAP ART LAYERS at 50% opacity.  Then, I over sharpened it to bring out more detail.  

I promise to do a short video tutorial about Snap Art next week.  It is hands down the best piece of software out there for creating painterly images.  I use is frequently, especially for images that are busy and need to be simplified a bit.  Foliage images work very well with Snap Art.

You can save 10% by clicking this link and using the code  JBW1320.  The code is only good till October 31st.

With the government open again, I’m off to lead a weekend workshop in the Poconos!  WOO HOO!

One More

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Fuji X-E1 – 55-200mm

In my last post I said, “at first blush there seemed to be just one composition, just one shot, the wall of color, however, that is almost never true.”   The lead image in today’s post came after being mesmerized by the wall of color, working that scene AND THEN looking for something else.  It pays to stay in a location for more than a few minutes.  If you are still and allow it, more images will present themselves.  Don’t be so quick to move on to another location. And look, there was a vertical composition too!

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Fuji X-E1 – 55-200mm

A comment with regard to the comments that were shared on my last post.  With the exception of one, all liked the tighter square crop best.  If you recall, I said I presented three right answers, however, most settled on one they preferred.  What does this mean?  First, I would suggest if you had never seen the square crop you would have liked one of the other image just as well.  In addition and probably more importantly, I believe it cements the idea that it pays to work a scene that you are drawn to.  As you simplify the scene, leaving behind just the elements that matter, while eliminating all that don’t, typically the image becomes stronger.  I think that is exactly what happened with that last post.  Folks were drawn to the neat tidy composition more than the others.

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While shooting with Dewitt Jones one time, I was struck by how patient and willing he was to stay with a subject.  He found thistle in a field as the sun was setting and stayed in that spot for almost 2 hours.  He never moved, he was invested in that moment.  He was drawn to this particular scene and was willing to stay and work it.  I remember his wife Lynette saying, just move on if you wish, he will be there for awhile!  She knew that he would be happy alone, working the scene.  I remember thinking, what on earth does he see?  I don’t see a thing! Was I ever wrong, the result of his patience was brilliant!  

For the processing of the lead images, I used a diffused glow technique.