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The Picture Within The Picture

Rocky Shoreline, Lake Superior

I recently commented on a photo by a friend that an image I particularly liked was actually at least 2, and perhaps 3 different images. What I meant by that was that I could see additional potential images in a scene. It is always a nice “find” when we can produce a viable image that is actually more than one image. My most recent experience with that was the Cascade River image in my recent blog, “Improving Your Imagery.”

More often, however, I find scenes that for whatever reason, do not, to use a phrase of yesteryear, “send me.” It is then that, rather than put the camera away, I often start to think about images within. Back in 2009, I blogged about a similar topic, taking closeup or more intimate photos.

Rocks on Lake Superior Shoreline

This image of rocks on Lake Superior often comes back to me as a great example of an “image within the image.” We were on the Superior shoreline in a hopelessly rainy, dreary day. It was one of those days when the “right answer” was to put the gear away, go have a cup of coffee and breakfast, and wait until there was some photographic light (we eventually did that). But I can remember some distinct occasions when the desire to capture a memorable image drove me to look for something more – the image within “the image.” In October, 2010, on a “tip” from a local resident, we left Townshend, Vermont in search of a covered bridge over The West River. The scene and the bridge was—on that evening—to us, somewhat underwhelming, so we started climbing around the banks, looking for a shot of the river. Still underwhelming. Looking for the photo within the photo, I found this fast water around these rocks.

Rock and Rapids, West River, Newfane, Vermont

The Wolverine Exiting Soo Locks Northbound

These days, even when I think I have found something nice, I purposely look for the image within, and more often than not, find that I prefer it to the “bigger picture.”

The image within the image is part of the process of seeing. So I try to do that every time I am out in the field.

At the Soo Locks, we were photographing a ship as it passed through the locks. As it was leaving the lock, heading North on the St. Mary’s River, I shot it, framed by a bridge. Then I zoomed in to get a closer image.

The Wolverine

Some of my favorite images within the image come from waterfalls. In the 2009 blog, I included a shot of Whitefish Falls in Michigan’s “U.P.” I have always liked the closeup image better than any of the “environmental” shots; so much so that I feature it as a “fine art” shot on my website.

Elliot Falls on Miner's Beach, Munising, MI

Another shot that I like a lot, and I think illustrates the point, is this shot of the popular (with U.P. residents and photographers, anyway) Elliot Falls on the South end of Miner’s Beach near Munising. The falls, even during wet periods, is actually a very small horsetail, as illustrated in the “environmental” shot. But shot as its own subject—the image within the image – it make a very nice, dramatic image, framed by the colorful sandstone and its weathered patterns.

Elliot Falls


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