When you take a photo you are making a choice. Or more precisely a series of choices; the subject, the location, the lighting, the angle, the depth of field. You are constantly fine tuning each of these choices with each photo taken.

Each minor adjustment can create a huge change in the final photos meaning and look.

This summer I started chasing an image I had in my head of a silhouette of a LEGO dragon against the setting sun. The first time I shot the photo I was blessed with beginners luck. You know that photo you take that is good, fine even, but it only gives you a glimpse into how great it could be if only…

Watermarked Photo (2015-09-11-1558)

One of my goals on the #baltictoysafari was to try to recreate this shot at the Vaxholm castle on our dawn photo shoot. I thought dawn would be an interesting golden hour opportunity as well as the backdrop of the castle seemed rather fitting.

I wanted to give you a glimpse of what it looks like through my view finder. In this series of photos you can see the light change, the clouds move across the field of view and even a bird is caught as it flies by.  You can also see how I am constantly changing my angle to the subject, shifting how the subject fills the frame, even repositioning the claws and wings at one point. Each small change, each subtle choice, had a huge impact on the final image.


Even though I wanted a vertical image, I ended up liking this horizontal image best. I am still not happy with the final result; I don’t think I improved on the original image. I am not sure if it is the change in dragons (Kingdoms vs Smaug) or if it is the translucent nature of the dragon in the original shot which makes for a more interesting image. Maybe it’s a size issue? The first dragon is actually smaller and fills the frame differently than Smaug, it creates a better balance. I guess I will need to take them both out and try this again.

Watermarked Photo (2015-09-11-1546)-2

The choices we outdoors photographers make, need to be made quickly. The constantly shifting light makes speed important. While practice and experience can help overcome this challenge success is never assured. But with each successive attempt something interesting can be learned, with each small adjustment something new is revealed. It is this sense of discovery that has kept me fascinated with the photographic process for all these years. This wonderful challenge of making a series of small choices that will lead to the perfect image.

I will admit I did learn one valuable lesson from this whole experience: dawn is a pretty wonderful time to be shooting LEGO. I may just have to get up early and try this again; just not 4:00 am. Thank you Boris for introducing me to this special time of the day.

~ xxSJC

From this “contact sheet”, which image would you choose to edit?