Last week’s hike (also see The whims of winter) was the first snow hike this season. Of course, I was eager to take snow shots after a year of hiking in splendid colors! And I was successful. I returned with a couple of shots that will find their places in my memories. Yet one of the shots turned out an absolute stunner.
The interesting point of this shot is that I didn’t “see” this very motive on location in its final form but developed it just back home. The result is not only a stunning photo. It is a great example of how “leaving things out” can improve a photograph and create a completely new interpretation of the same scene.
But long story short: This photo below shows the original shot including the first crop. The photo is a nice winter landscape. But there’s too much going on. Especially the sky in the top right adds an element to the shot that – in my opinion – is quite distracting as it leads my eyes from the top left to the right out of the image. So I tried cropping off the sky – even though I “lost” a lot from the mountain in the back:
The result was the version below: WAYS better! Cropping off the sky made the image ways more balanced. Yet I still felt an imbalance between the very clean and pure foreground and the background & left with all the trees, the house in the back, the hill coming down from the left. There was still a bit much going on there. And as soon as my eyes got into that region, I felt lost due to all the lines. As a result, I tried to crop even more aggressively to find a part of the image that is just simple, calm, pure. – I tried multiple crops, larger, smaller, including and excluding trees, etc. And finally, after evaluating quite a couple of different versions, I decided to go with the crop indicated below by the red line. To be honest, i was a bit hesitant to crop so aggressively compared to the original image – but the result speaks for itself.
The Final Crop
As soon as I had decided on that crop and did some minor adjustments, I leaned back and had my first WOW-moment. I wasn’t sure if I should stamp out the tufts of grass and create even more plain space but in the end decided to leave some grass as a slight indicator about the depth of the snow. This shot is simply fascinating by all its elements! the poles standing along the covered way, leading the eye from the front to the back in a pleasant curve. Also the bright area in the back that can fork the leading line into the top middle. From there following the sharp hill to the top right and back. Some details along this hill and the tufts of grass in the snow to just graba a little bit of attention – yet not too much to keep the attention for too lang and always come back to the poles.
I really love this version. Not only for its purity, the sense of solitude and peace that it evokes but also for the process: How the original shot transformed into a completely new interpretation. From an impressive mountain scene with trees and high mountains towering in the back, the house hidden in the back – to this final still, calm pure winter landscape.