View from My Window: Falling Away

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Falling Away

Falling Away by bobstafford

This is a little different and it is more about viewpoint than skill, it involves walking around your subject and planning your shot. It does take practice, but almost every shot you take will benefit from a little planning. This is not difficult: it is just about looking, and the placement of the elements of the image.

Falling away is not an official term, but that's what I call it. This image is made up of three main elements, the sky, the buildings and the river.

Falling away: what is it? I shall try and explain. In order to increase the depth of the image and draw the eye of the viewer into the image, the subject – the church on the hill – has been placed further back than the castle on its left. This emphasizes the church and the buildings huddled around its base. The reflection in the river and a wide sky above, make the church more imposing. Simple is as it looks, you have to train yourself to look at every shot and ask yourself: what could I do to improve it? And you must be prepared to walk around to find the best viewpoint. You are not taking a portrait shot: it's a landscape.

However, most people looking at this never realize this. They just enjoy the image. The last elements are the bridge and the buildings on the horizon. These, and the ruler-straight stone river banks, create a strong feeling of depth.

The clouds are a gift – giving added interest to what would have been just a plain blue sky. There is no set format for this technique. It's trial and error – just look and think – but when it works it is very rewarding. The last part is never taking one shot: take as many as you need until you are satisfied. It always pays.

The bridge has an interesting stor. From WWII in 1944, the bridge had been rigged with explosives to halt the advance of the US army. A US army private, James McRacken, and his comrades halted on the bridge when they noticed the explosives. James made the decision to disarm the demolition charge. He succeeded and cut the wires. Unfortunately, he was killed by the heavy fire of the defenders. He did prevent a battle to take the town, saving many lives.

From that day he has been the town's hero, honored every year since by the people of Mayenne, on the Pont James McRacken. Americans are always welcome here.

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