Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Avoiding Mergers

Last week I wrote about how slight changes in the camera position and focal length of the lens can have an unexpected impact on a photo.   Today I want to give an example of changing the camera position to avoid something called mergers.

While on our recent trip to Iceland with great friends and photographers we stopped at a small stream just off the road.   The water was smooth and partially covered with a skim of ice.   Add a very interesting cliff face in the distance and you have many opportunities for interesting compositions.
Some of our group shooting the reflections
To get the mountain and cliffs in the reflections you must position your camera low, just a few feet off the ground and surface of the water.  

55mm and lower position

The stream had some thin ice on the surface, which added some interest to the surface reflections.  I picked out a position where the shape of the skim ice and the near bank mirrored the shape of the mountain in the distance.  You can see this in the photo above.

I made several different shots at different focal lengths, camera heights and positions.  I also changed the camera from landscape to portrait orientation.  When out in the field it's important to move around and try different angles, heights, focal lengths, etc.  It's frustrating to get home and realize I missed the best photo because I didn't move around and look for different compositions. When I got home I had 28 different photos from this location to choose from. In the end, I choose the photo below as my favorite.

50mm and higher position
There is only a slight difference between the two photos and it's in the space between the ice and the reflection of the mountain in the water.  Both photos show the ice mirroring the reflection of the mountain, but the second photo above has a little more separation between these two elements.  If I had positioned the camera even lower the ice and mountain reflection would have merged or overlapped.  When compositing a shot it is important to pay attention to mergers between important elements and avoid them when possible.  Here's a short article on mergers with a better example.

This example and the one from last week illustrate how little changes can improve a photo.   I hope you get some value from these examples.  I'm still working through my photos from Iceland and will post more as I make more progress.

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