The Grand Marais Photographer Newsletter – Compression from Lenses

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August in Grand Marais was busy — as usual. It’s always busy in August, and it always seems that August slips away quickly. As a photographer, towards the end of August I really started noticing that sunrise and sunset became easier to photograph as they were later and earlier, respectively. It also got colder. July was hot, but August, while hot for part of the month, got noticeably colder with nights dropping into the 40s and days only getting into the 70s. I was really busy guiding kayaking trips during the month of August, so I didn’t shoot as much as I would have liked, but I did shoot some portraits and managed to squeeze in some landscape work, especially towards the end of the month. Thumbnail images below.

p.s. August also marked the last blue moon until July 2015 and the last full moon that the Grand Marais lighthouse will have a fresnel lens. It’s being replaced with an LED light.

Photography Tip of the Month – Compression

Sawtooth Mountains, Cook County, Grand Marais, Minnesota
Our choice of lens in photography, determines how the final image is going to look, and it’s specifically that choice of lens that helps define our vision. When I hear talk about photographers not using filters because filters change reality, I often wonder how they feel about choice of lens, because a lens changes the look of reality much more than a filter. In the above image, the mountains in the distance seem close to the point and the point doesn’t seem that far away from where I was standing when I took the picture. In reality, the mountains are miles away and the point is probably about a 1/4 mile away from where I was standing. To make everything look closer together, I used a 200mm lens to compress the scene.

Check out this image:

Looking down the shoreline from Grand Marais, MN as some waves wash up onto the basalt shoreline.

It was taken on another day, but at about the same place as the other image. Instead of using a 200mm lens, I used a lens at 16mm. See how far away the mountains look in this picture? You can also see the point from the first photo in this picture, but it’s pretty small, because the wide lens tends to make everything look further apart that a 200mm lens.

When you think about landscape photography, questions to ask are: Will this scene look better spread out across the picture or should I compress the scene so that everything is larger and looks closer together? If you answer yes to the first part of the question, then use a wide lens. If things would look better compressed together and larger, use a telephoto. If you haven’t used a telephoto this way before, you may notice that you need to step back to get the same elements into your composition. To try this, go out and find a scene and photograph it both ways.

Upcoming Lake Superior Photography Workshops

August Photographs

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blue sunset over Two Island LakeSunset over Lake Superior, Grand Marais, Cook County, Minnesota