A sign points to Butano State Park from Highway 1, on the coast about 50 miles south of San Francisco. The coast there is grassy hills, but the road keeps going inland until you end up in a redwood forest. Redwood forests are wonderful to visit, but a pain to photograph. You can’t get back far enough to show whole trees, so you get photos of a forest of stumps. There is no telling whether they are big or small. One solution is to spoil the purity of the nature scene by including people, paths, and even cars to provide scale.
The sun is bright but low to the horizon, and that marks photos as being in the late fall or early winter. Here in California there are reasonably warm days into November and December, so people still go the beach on good days. The surf is picking up from distant storms, and sun, surf, and people are the ingredients of photos. A recent lunch hour visit turned out to be an exercise in timing and composition. Neither small children nor incoming waves take direction well.
Point Lobos is one of the world’s great scenic places. While the rocky shore and surf are reliable, sunshine there is not. We were lucky recently and had brilliant sun along with spring wild flowers. With all those things helping, it’s not too difficult to take good pictures. We drove to the Bird Rock area, at the end of the short park road. To make photography a more interesting problem, add some kids running near the edge of the ocean bluff.
The city of Ithaca, New York, boasts having over a hundred waterfalls and gorges within ten miles. The web led me to one of the more noted, Ithaca Falls. My goal for photographing such sights is to answer the question: “What was it like?” To start with, it was cold. Beyond that, the falls were beautiful, the stream from the falls was in a gorge, and there were a few tourists enjoying the scenery.
The grand landscapes of Ansel Adams generally do not include tourists in the foreground gawking at the spectacle along with Ansel. That 8” x 10” film was pricey so he had to be rather picky about subject matter. A click away with a digital camera, so we can afford to experiment. Including human subjects lends scale to the scenes, gives cues to the era, and tells more about what it was like to have been at the place. Moreover, tourists are preoccupied so they tend not to care if they happen to be in your pictures.
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