I’m sure you’ve all run across people who proudly proclaim “I’m a big picture person” when discussing how they approach an issue, as if disdaining any contact with actual details required to get something accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who actually are best at the big picture and we need them in order to keep us thinking about an objective or plan or expected destination in life. Still, sometimes the details can bring out aspects that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially in a photograph.
I’m guessing this is a little too wide for this blog but I wanted to show it as a way to point out how you sometimes have to craft an image with what’s available. There are no mountains in Nebraska so you have to see what the sun will provide in the landscape you’ve got. This time of year the corn fields are bare so the contour plowing is visible, especially when you include some shadows for depth. I caught a glimpse of this idea while driving home one day and set out that week to duplicate it. The trick was finding a field with these berms curving away from the camera to set the foreground apart from the background, on a slope that would allow wide separation between them so the shadows of one wouldn’t hide the peak of another, and waiting for an angle where the setting sun would just cut across the tops of each berm leaving the area behind them in shadow. The result is the alternating light and shadow curves. I was fortunate the close-in foreground was plowed across the width of the scene, giving me a firm foundation for the image. I cropped it close at the top (no clouds, not very interesting sky) and did some post-processing in black and white to make sure the tones were distributed the way I wanted. And that was it.
I like how the very visible curves give a sense of depth to the image, drawing your eye from the close foreground into the background, and from side to side. sweeping from the left and going downhill to the right. It’s the way you would view the scene were you standing there and that’s my objective for shots like this.
The Plains have been compared to a sea of grass. Standing in one of the remaining prairies in the area and watching the breeze ripple the tops of the grass to drive waves across the fields reminds you of being at sea. What I like about this composition is the berms solidify that idea, freezing the moving waves to reveal their relentless travel in the face of the wind.