Insomnia in Santa Fe

Just before I left town, I received a call asking if I would instruct a photography class. What they needed to know was how to upload the pictures from their camera to their computer, and so on. 

I am so technically ignorant about cameras that I would be of no help whatsoever. I always shoot on "automatic," which means I know nothing about the intricacies of photography. Such knowledge would be nice, but whenever I learn even the slightest tidbit of it, it goes in one ear and out the other. 

These pictures were shot with a Canon point and shoot that cost $300. I am not convinced that anybody besides a professional needs anything more. 

The bottom line: The camera no longer makes the picture. The photographer makes the picture, both while shooting and then by cropping on the computer screen. 

Just to demonstrate (while I am sitting here unable to sleep in a hotel room in Santa Fe), I am going to show you some pictures I took on the roadside this afternoon. I wanted to record the grandeur of the mountains I had been seeing for 100 miles, and I finally felt I had a spot where I could pull over and take some time. 

I started with the above picture. That was a warm up. It didn't make the cut, however. Too boring. Nothing of interest in the foreground. 

I tried cropping out the boring foreground, but even though I like horizontal shots because they are grand, this one lacked anything to make it more than just a snapshot. 

So, I zoomed in on the mountain a little, thinking that might do it. Nah, still boring. The mountain looks uncomfortable sitting where I put it, and things are tilting too the right. 

Turning a few degrees to the left to include two peaks adds interest, but the middle ground is still leaning to the right. 

At this point, I had taken about fifteen photos and wasn't convinced I had anything that I wanted to show off on the weblog. So, I got in the pickup and started driving. I made it about 100 yards before I saw an improved scene. 

The cluster of cottonwood on the lower left balances the otherwise rightward tilt to the picture. However, the cottonwood are too tall by at least a third. And they're the wrong color. If the cluster of cottonwood had been replaced with a gnarled Scotch pine (something not found here), the picture would be perfect. I think it would be unethical to put a Scotch pine there using Photoshop, so the picture is a no-go. 

Here I attempted to make the foreground more interesting by putting in all of the peaks, the cottonwood, and adding some juniper off to the right. It doesn't work. The cottonwood and juniper act as parentheses for a bunch of non-descript sage while the mountains hover above unsupported. It is like an ugly split in bowling. 

Then I tried just the juniper. This picture fails because it is to heavy in the middle. The juniper and the mountains are of the same shape, and the picture falls off to either side.

Here I found a scene I liked. The right mountain is mid-range and adds a third dimension. It also is an adequate counter balance to the juniper and the mountains of the previous picture. However, the foreground is boring and the picture is square. 

So, I cropped the picture down, enriched the colors a little by moving the saturation bar to the right, and got a photo that I thought was worth putting up on the weblog. My favorite part of this scene is the bajada, the slope that comes from the mid-range mountain on the right and crosses the picture all the way to the left. If the juniper in the foreground had violated that elegant line, the picture would have been ruined.