Photo Lesson: Compositional Mystery

Where did I take this photo?  Did I trudge through miles of trails and risk life and limb and thousands of $$$ in photo gear to "get the shot"?

I think all of you already know the answer, but this is the point of today's Photo Lesson.   You don't need to spends thousands traveling to exotic locations or plan an all day hiking trip to get great photos.  Find places around you and compose for mystery.  Search for framing that doesn't include the 100 people/tourists milling about, be patient and wait for an opportunity to get a clean shot, and walk around and find different angles so those who view your photo have some mystery on how and where you "got the shot".  Don't get me wrong, there is value in traveling and going to the isolated locations for great photographic opportunities, but its not the ONLY time to be active with your camera.  See my previous lesson on looking for different angles at the post titled, "It's a Matter of Perspective (Composition)".  Now on to the backstory of the above photo.

The Narita-san Shinshoji Temple complex is quite vast and varied.  One could spend all day just wondering around and taking photos of the beautiful grounds.  On the day I was there, I only had a few hours so I walked quickly and tried to capture some interesting areas.  I featured a photo from this location on January 13th on my post titled, "New Year's Prayers on a Pole". This photo of the waterfall was a bit of a challenge.  I didn't bring my tripod and in order to get the silky flow of the water, I needed to have a slow shutter speed, which means I need to be very steady to keep the whole photo from going blurry.  I did this by pushing my camera up against the rocks as a steadying device.  A little secret of this photo is that if I didn't tell you it was at a massive tourist attraction, you couldn't tell if this taken after some long and arduos hike into the back woods somewhere.  I call it Compositional Mystery.  You see a lot of that from me in my landscapes and seascapes.  You see a grand vista, but don't realize 10 meters behind me there is a major highway or resort or some other type of encroachment of civilization.  Below I am including another photo from the same location but a different viewpoint without the Compositional Mystery.  Still a good photo, well composed and interesting, but there is less mystery as to where I took it.

One of the main points I am trying to get across with this and the previous lesson is to take your time around an area.  Yes, it wil irritate your non-photographer spouse, children, friends etc, but it is worth it to spend just a little more time looking for the right composition vs. just showing up to great location, stop where everyone else is stopping, snap off a photo and move on.