December 2, 2009 – American Basin

American Basin, southwestern Colorado

American Basin, southwestern Colorado

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hey again everyone. Today’s shot is from southwestern Colorado, the San Juan mountains specifically. This is a little spot called American Basin. It’s accessible via a rough and tumble 4×4 road, maybe 30 miles or so in. (Although that could be way off, this was taken 5 or 6 years ago, so the details are fuzzy.) The San Juans are awesome for a lot of reasons. Most notably is that, while most of the Rockies have been beaten down and smoothed out by the elements over the years, the San Juans are still all rocky and awesome. Also, they are probably the wildest mountains, meaning that whereas most of the rest of the Rockies are pretty accessible, there are still spots in the San Juans that are a real pain in the butt to get to. And, there are 4×4 roads EVERYWHERE, that go to REALLY pretty places. When I was there, I just had a regular Subaru sedan. It’s all wheel drive, and I got to a lot of places that, had I been rational, I wouldn’t have gone to. But really you need a true off-road rig to get to the places you really want to be. (In fact, a bunch of folks down there have jacked up Jeeps for rent for around 100 bucks a day – I want to go back and do that one of these days.)

Today’s picture is an example of using depth of field to focus the viewer’s eye on the true subject of the picture. On the surface, lacking depth of field seems like a bad thing. I mean, why wouldn’t you want *everything* in focus, right? But, in a lot of cases, like this one, the thing you really want to highlight would then just get lost in the details of everything else going on. So, in this picture, your eye still sees and takes in all of the mountainy stuff going on in the background (which sets the context), but our eyes are naturally repelled by the fuzziness, and are instead drawn to the area of sharpness in the corner. Another use of a shorter depth of field is as a method of adding contrast. If your foreground and your background are the same color and contain the same kind of pattern or similar detail, it can be hard for your eye to distinguish them. But if you change up a couple of the aspects (color, sharpness, pattern, brightness, etc), it can make them really stand out. Which then provides depth. Which is hot.

I’m afraid to go back and read all this stuff I just wrote. I wrote it in about 6 different sittings, with a couple bathroom breaks (yeah, a couple!) and various other distractions thrown in. It may not sound good. But that’s fine. I’ll have another shot tomorrow.

Notes: Canon PowerShot S230 (Point and shoot). 1/400s, f/7.1, ISO unknown.

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