Many Slices Of A Scene

When arriving at a new location to photograph, it is easy to get over-excited, and like a moth to a flame, focus all attention directly on the obvious composition. This is easy to do when shooting a grand vista, and more than once I’ve gotten so caught up in this one shot, that only later do I realize that I’ve missed many other great photos that could have been captured there.

On a recent trip to Colorado, I kept this top of mind as I shot a valley filled with beautiful aspen. I made sure to look for many different photos to be made within the scene. This is a good example of thinking of different ways to capture a scene, because I didn’t even move the tripod – here are six different shots taken from the same spot.

Light beams cut through afternoon storm clouds over Abrams Mountain, Ouray, Colorado
Light beams cut through afternoon storm clouds over Abrams Mountain, Ouray, Colorado

I started with the “obvious” grand vista shot. Situated on a bluff overlooking this valley, I shot down the valley at the mountain capping it off. Of course, waiting for just the right moment is also important, and here I captured a ray of light that broke through the clouds for a moment, illuminating the peak.

Abrams mountain rises above lower slopes filled with bright fall colors, Ouray Colorado
Abrams mountain rises above lower slopes filled with bright fall colors, Ouray Colorado

My next shot was essentially the same shot, but in a vertical orientation. When the landscape allows for it, I always try to capture both vertical and horizontal shots, offering variety for my stock collection.

Fall colors explode on the slopes of Hayden Mountain, Ouray, Colorado
Fall colors explode on the slopes of Hayden Mountain, Ouray, Colorado

Turning to my left, I shot another vertical, this time of Hayden Mountain. The groves of aspen climbing up its lower slopes were ablaze in fall color glory.

Mountain slopes exhibit a kaleidoscope of color in the fall, Ouray, Colorado
Mountain slopes exhibit a kaleidoscope of color in the fall, Ouray, Colorado

Now it was time to switch to a telephoto lens (in this case my 70-200mm) and focus on abstracted swatches of fall color.

Mountain slopes exhibit a kaleidoscope of color in the fall, Ouray, Colorado
Mountain slopes exhibit a kaleidoscope of color in the fall, Ouray, Colorado

Telephoto lenses are great for carving out smaller sections of a landscape. If the landscape holds enough detail interest, there are likely many different photographs to make from a single scene. Here the collection of colors was changing from spot to spot, providing strong abstract photos, each unique from one another.

Abrams Mountain caps the end of a valley filled will fall color, Ouray Colorado
Abrams Mountain caps the end of a valley filled will fall color, Ouray Colorado

Finally, I made a shot similar to my first, but this time leaving out the sky and mountain top. Using the telephoto I created a photo that was more about the variety of color (the warm colors of the forest contrasting with the cool blues of the base of the mountain) than it was about a mountain scenic.

I tried a variety of other shots from this spot (panoramas, cloudscapes, etc), some more successful than others. But by the time I left, I felt I covered the area pretty thoroughly photographically.