Taro Fields and Composition

You might ask, who cares about taro fields? In fact, I was asking myself the very same question. Kaua’i is heaven for a landscape photographer with its cliffs, coastlines, canyons, lava shelves, rainbows and crashing waves. If you have been following my photography blog, you know that. Why would we plan a photo shoot of the taro fields, too? Perhaps to record old Kaua’i — the crop that native Hawai’ians raised to make poi, their grain staple? Perhaps to challenge the photographer to find a dynamic composition while gazing at a flat monochromatic field?  Those were the best two reasons I could think of!  Here is the answer to question #2 — the compositional challenge, and by the end of this blog, you will have witnessed “old Kaua’i.”

If you have visited Kaua’i, you may have visited this well known overlook mentioned in the guide books, for a bird’s eye view of the fields on the north shore. I chose to include the yellow flowers in the foreground and let the palm on the left frame the scene. Right on cue, a rainbow with an interesting arc!

Kaua'i taro fields from overlook, framed by palm and yellow flowers with a rainbow.
Kaua’i taro fields from overlook, framed by palm and yellow flowers with a rainbow.

Then, I loaded my telephoto (70-200mm) lens for a tighter shot of the mountain, shrouded in the rain cloud, rising behind the sunlit field. Geometric pattern was my theme.

Stacked layers make composition with emphasis on rectangular shapes
Stacked layers make this composition with additional emphasis on rectangular shapes

In this wider composition, some curves help to embrace my composition: first the rectangular fields making a curve on the lower right of the frame, and then the mountains and the tree line in the upper left. The clouds help to animate the sky, and the patches of blue sky balance the vibrant green fields.

Finding curves in a wide view of the taro fields.
Finding curves in a wide view of the taro fields.

Visiting the field up close, you can find a reflection in the water and admire the shape of the plant. The composition found balance with the stack of horizontal elements and the vertical thrust of the stems.

Close up of taro growing in Kaua'i with rain clouds looming over mountain in background
Close up of taro growing in Kaua’i with rain clouds looming over mountain in background

When you are looking for a frame in your composition, you don’t have to frame both sides, right and left. You can use a dominant feature on one side to anchor your scene, as I did with the palm border that separates the field from the road.

Dominant line of palms frame the left side of taro fields while sky adds interest. Step into the scene.
Dominant line of palms frame the left side of taro fields while sky adds interest. Step into the scene.

Author: cathykellyphotography

Independent photographer based in Pittsburgh PA and Naples FL. Nature, landscape and portrait photography. Portfolio includes international work in USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Email cathykellyphotography@gmail.com to review work in your area of interest. Nature portfolio includes flowers and wildlife. Prints and digital files for sale. See website: www.cathykellyphotography.com.