Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tundra Teaching

Arctic Cotton Grass, Edgeoya Island, Svalbard

On my last day in Svalbard this summer, we landed in an autumn garden. Already turning gold, the landscape was one of the loveliest I've ever seen in the north, with a rich assortment of tundra flowers and dramatic mountain scenery. The photographic challenge was, as ever, to distill this 360 degree panorama into a single, compelling photograph.  This loose patch of cotton grass provided the best foreground I could muster, and knowing that I would want to use this handsome butte as a backdrop, I set up shop on this spot. 
But the picture required my widest lens, and a prone position: anything less on either front and the picture would not have been possible. (Even still, I would have liked to have made the foreground grass-heads bigger, but equipment and depth-of-field constraints made it impossible)
In the end, I took a few shots, describing to the "students" who accompanied me that getting horizontal is often essential in finding a dramatic point-of-view for a picture. I started to walk away, but not before I turned around and saw that several people had taken me at my word:

I think, in the end, I like this picture even better than the first one!

Nikon D3, 14-24mm lens


  1. The mountain shape echoed by the students in the foreground and the vertical format adds to the beauty of the second one.
    Both are Beauties.

  2. Thanks for commenting - as always. I enjoy hearing from you!

  3. Yes! I see SO many photos all taken from a very narrow 'human' point of view, and if your subject isn't human, then isn't it best to leave the photographer out of the photo, and capture something from the point of view of the subject instead? I like taking things from different positions than human eye level, it really adds something, and gets us out of our human-being-egos a little, and makes us see things differently.