Use your Creativity to get “Something from Nothing”

Suzanne Mathia Photography

Author: Suzanne Mathia
OK…  So here’s the situation…  You’re at one of the modern-day 7 Wonders of The World, the Grand Canyon.  There’s a layer of fresh snow, but the only 
problem is, the Canyon is completely fogged in.  This is the situation our Arizona Highways Photo Workshop found itself in for our afternoon shoot (Grand Canyon in Winter).  None of us had ever seen fog hanging in the canyon, so thick, for so long.  To give you an idea of just how thick it was, the first image is looking into the GC from the South Rim from just behind the lodges.  Visibility was about 10 feet, so I could see the tree and the edge, which of course was important also to avoid falling down 6800 feet !
Has anything like this happened to you ?  It might be fog, rain, other inclement weather, a lake or river with unexpectedly low water level, or any number of things.  So you can either call it a day and head back to the hotel, or put on your thinking cap, bring out your creative spirit, and perhaps create something amazing !
So what did we do to turn around our foggy afternoon ?
We were out at one of the many Canyon Points, or vistas.  I was trying to get at least something of a shot with the rocky ledge projecting into the Canyon.  Hey, I could at least see it.  This photo shows you just what I was seeing.  Even though we could see the ledge, the scene was still quite blah.
But I thought “If we only had a photographer down on that ledge in a Red coat”.  That would stand out nicely, and create a sense of interest and contrast to an otherwise blah scene.  Now that could be something. Since I had a red Winter parka, that’s when I changed from a photographer into a model.
The result ?  Magic !!
We had all our participants lined up at the overlook to this ledge, and with help from our master photographer (Suzanne Mathia), using the scene to create
their own unique compositions.  You can decide for yourself, but I believe the results were creative, unique, somewhat surreal, and inspired.  A different
approach to capturing the amazing landscape.
The first of these photos is from Bob Blue, our other Volunteer Trip Leader on this Workshop, and the second is from Sharon Philpott, one of our
participants kind enough to share her photo.
You can see that Bob’s photo is oriented as a portrait, uses the trees for framing, and seems to capture the place and the moment of the emerging sun.
Sharon, by capturing the scene in landscape mode, shows off something about the breadth and grandeur of the Canyon.  Although the photographer is still \
a central element for the eye to land on, he’s seen as tiny compared to the giant Canyon walls.  Two photos with two very different feelings and messages.
In both cases, the photographer in red is the key to making these images work.  And I’m not just saying that because it’s me
When presented with adverse or very challenging shooting conditions, don’t just go back to bed…  Think differently, Trust your instincts, and come up with something unique and magical !!
Suzanne Mathia is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

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