Wildfires in Idaho play havoc with landscape photographer in Montana looking for a clear sunset. Instead, use a long lens to compress the distant hills to a flatter perspective and use the smoky atmosphere to add back some depth. The sandbar of geese and pelicans in the foreground is just a design element to both break up the space taken by the lake and to accentuate the lines in the lower part of the image. The trees serve as a transition point from lines below to curves above. There really is no subject here; the whole image offers a study of space, shapes and tones.
Expectation as a mindset can stymie an outdoor photographer. Flexibility within an expectation can open new vistas. Rather than packing up and driving back to town, stand around, look around, think about what you’re seeing. How does what you see affect you once you’ve let the frustration of not getting the weather you want pass over you?
I’ve seen this type image in many photo books and technical guides but there’s something about seeing it in your viewfinder that has an impact. No photoshop tricks, no multiple images put together – depth really does show up this way as the most distant hills are the lightest and the nearest become darkest. Our brain recognizes this perspective as meaning near to far, dimensionality in an otherwise flat world. So we use it to portray on a plane what we see in 3D and everyone gets it.