A Closer Look

story and photos by James P. Hughes

“When people ask what photographic equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.”

~ Anonymous

Listen up! Never visit the Finger Lakes region without a camera in tow. First-time visitors are invariably charmed with the region’s variety and beauty. Those familiar with its towns and countryside continually discover something fresh and compelling. There’s so much to photograph, but where do we start?

Almost anywhere! Foremost, there’s the crystal blue water and views of the pristine lakes themselves. Plunging waterfalls, rushing creeks and rippling brooks abound. Lofty hilltops offer stunning panoramas of the landscape with its winding byways and flowing vineyards.

Church steeples rise above villages whose quiet streets are lined with picturesque homes and welcoming shops. The area’s rich heritage is celebrated in its spacious parks, noteworthy sites, and impressive museums. Blue and yellow New York State markers scattered along the way identify significant historical facts and sites.

Well, you get the point. It’s a very special place and it’s camera-ready!

With today’s technology, anyone from a mobile-phone user to an SLR-toting professional is capable of producing a first-rate photograph so by all means, snap away. Capture that striking landscape, that expanse of Finger Lakes water, those neat vineyards row upon row, the quaint structures along a village street. But once that’s done – the “big picture” has been taken and recorded – move in for some detail.

Don’t overlook the multitude of subjects in that larger image: the portions of a scene, the bits and pieces so often buried from view at first glimpse. In other words, just look around and about then test your imagination.

Detail doesn’t necessarily mean (or require) an extreme close-up, or macro image, although that’s certainly one option. Just take a closer look at the many elements within a more expansive subject, the unique and unusual, something that can be examined that, perhaps, tells an engaging story on its own. Good composition should incorporate the use of light, color, texture, and form. Let factors such as time of day, season, and weather play a part. Look, ponder, and be creative.

As the old saying goes, “less is more.” An abbreviated detail can present a very powerful image, one that encourages the viewer to pause, contemplate, and (hopefully) appreciate.

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