The road past the tree Sometimes you have to coax the elements of a composition into shape, and can go through a semi-conscious process of reasoning to do so.

When I first arrived at this scene, I was in seventh (maybe sixth) heaven. The delicate field of poppies, the mature cherry with its canopy, the way the track wiggled around the tree. Everything spoke of constructing a composition whereby one could ask: 'Where does this path lead?'

But there were problems. My first approach was wide-angle, vertical, intending to emphasize the track sweeping in – but that left a pinched, diminished tree. I switched to a standard lens, keeping things level – but path and tree fought for the centre of the frame. Back oneself then out of the scene? But I gained an unattractive, blue-grey sky. No, it would have to be the panoramic: crop out the sky, push tree and path to centre.

So far so good – but how should the path 'exit' the picture? When you have a good tree canopy like this, often you can make it close the back of an image; deny the viewer sight of anything deeper beyond the elements you want to emphasize. For this picture it was essential then that nothing could be seen beyond the path's exit. But try as I might, on tippy-toes with tripod, a patch of sky remained above the path. I had to gain height to close the picture – and that meant sitting on the roof of my car.

This is not meant to tell you 'how difficult' the picture was to make – such stories only serve to make the viewer more demanding. But if you have an intent for how a picture should work, follow it through to its logical conclusion.
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