I've been working on photos from Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge recently, both from this year and years past. Throughout the refuge there are areas of marsh grasses, from moderate clumps to expansive island-like formations. Many of my detail shots of the grasses (non-landscape) emphasize their patterns. With variations in light, color and even the wind, there was much diversity in these images. First let's look at the marsh grasses in black and white. In the photo above you see a stripped down composition: all the attention is on the shape and reflection of one strip of marsh grass. Look at the grasses and their reflection as a shape and you'll see the triangular shape that smoothly directs the viewer's eye across the image.
In the second image, we now see the same grasses, but with a slightly wider angle of view. By including the background elements I've added depth to the photo and it becomes more of a scene instead of still life. Not better, not worse, just different.
Oh, so why black and white? Well there wasn't much color to work with, making the color version uninspiring. Or to use a technical term, it was "blah".
Next let's shift to color, or should I say good-looking color. The following images were taken the same morning, about fifteen minutes later. The sun was catching the clouds giving me the opportunity to work with warm reflected color. Continuing with the concepts of shape and simplicity, I created an alternating light-dark pattern using a stack of horizontal rectangles. The second image below is a slight variation of the first, with a little more space to the left. At first I thought I would prefer the second image because the line of the marsh grass has a slight break to it, offering some visual variety. But after contemplating the two I decided I prefer having the grasses go straight across, which helps emphasize the repetition of shape.
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