On first impression, the swamp is chaotic. With its high canopy, most of the scene is dark with shadow. The day’s bright sunlight barely filtering through. Large tree trunks, felled by past storms lie at random angles and decay. Walking the boardwalk, I look down into the murky water for alligators, frogs and snakes. I hear a variety of bird calls, but looking around and above me, I cannot spot the birds.
I walk and observe my surroundings for more than an hour. My vision is drawn to the ferns, which spring from the decaying tree trunks and at times fill in a section of the swamp. I see the color, the pattern and the contrast of a narrow trunk, speckled with lichen. I have found a composition. As I work with the image later, I developed a painting. What do you think?
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It would be really cool if I were this good with watercolor painting. In truth, I make images that start as photographs, then apply my creativity with digital tools, and sometimes the end result looks very much like a watercolor. As a photographer, I look for dynamic compositions in nature. Walking on the Naples beach recently, I found this one.
The tidal pool formed a leading line to the horizon. Then, it seemed to bisect the horizon, revealing a green wedge on the land side and a blue wedge on the water side. A few interesting details offset the symmetry: the palm tree on the left side, and the tiny bird on the right. The watercolor effect smudged most of the detail in the image, and emphasized the compositional lines and soft colors. I added some finishing touches with dodging and burning in Photoshop — the digital equivalent of the old darkroom technique. I cropped the image square to eliminate what seemed like too much foreground.
“Et voila!” An iPhone photo transformed. Do you like it?