The bigness of huge.

One of the challenges of photographing something that is really big is to provide a reference for the immense size you want to show.  If you back up enough to get the whole subject in the image it’s hard to convey the impression of just how big it is.  If you get too close it’s hard to provide that feeling of immensity you want for the viewer.  Sometimes it’s better to show a little of the subject with some point of reference, and leave the rest to the viewer’s imagination.

Mt- Rainier Climb, MEM1995S004-09As an example, here’s a photo of Mt. Rainier.  Trust me, it’s Rainier.  One does think of mountains as being large but it’s sometimes hard to have a good reference, mostly because any one mountain is surrounded by other, fairly large, mountains.  Not Rainier.  It stands out pretty much by itself surrounded by forest.  When you see it close you’re immediately struck by a “wow, that’s really huge!” feeling.  But how to convey that in an image?

OK, you see the people in the middle of the scene – they look like tiny specks on the snow field.  But follow the line from them upward toward the grey block in the upper right.  See those even small specks just where the snow line is?  Those are people too, about a half mile away.  That rock you see behind them?  Probably another half mile beyond them.  From that rock outcropping to the summit (toward the upper left of the image) is easily another mile and 5000′ in altitude.

This is a big mountain.  My little Olympus film camera and 50mm lens just wasn’t up to the challenge to show the whole thing from here but hopefully you get a sense there’s a lot more not in the image.

Without the people this is just a nice picture of snow and rocks – with them there’s a sense that this is a big, open place leading to something even bigger.  Leaving most of the mountain out of the image gives the viewer a chance to wonder what else is there and just how big is this thing!?



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