Matt Payne Photography | Photograph deconstruction series, Volume 1: Laurelhurst Pond

Photograph deconstruction series, Volume 1: Laurelhurst Pond

May 13, 2014  •  2 Comments

Welcome to my very first installment of photo deconstruction, my attempt to have a more meaningful connection with you, my audience, and my art, with me as the liaison between the two. Or I guess you could think of it as a love triangle, but that might get a little creepy... I digress. Why am I doing these blog posts anyways? Well, as you may have read, Facebook has totally changed the way it determines which content you get to see as a user and fan. Just because you liked my page does not guarantee you actually get to see what I post. In fact, the phenomenon has caused quite a stir on Facebook and other corners of the internet, causing small business folks like me to get creative around content sharing and finding better ways to connect with you, my fans, customers and friends. If you have the time, there's a wonderfully detailed article about this whole issue over on Tech Crunch.

So, as often as I can, I plan to share new and old photos with you and deconstruct the photograph into three parts:

1. The technical aspects of how I took the photo, which gear I used, how I set it up, etc. 

2. The compositional considerations I made in selecting the frame I used as well as how I thought it might help tell a story or connect to the viewer to a feeling, place or time.

3. The personal connection the photo has to me and why I chose to take that photograph. The other way to think about this would be as a portal into my soul and/or mind.

I also think that this format will lend well to the idea that photography should be about quality and not quantity and that it is OK that I may only have the opportunity to get out a few times per month to take photos because the hope is that those photos will be of high quality and will be worth sharing with the world. I also believe that this will be a better medium for people to provide honest criticism of my work. Let's hope I can take it!

The first photo I chose for this series was taken just last night at Laurelhurst Park, one of Portland's most awesome city parks located just a few blocks from my apartment. In my short time here in Portland I've had a love affair with this park. The second trip out to the city when I came to find a place to live, I stopped at Laurelhurst and just took it all in. There is just something about the park that penetrates my soul and mind - I find myself drawn to it. 

The perfect ending to a Portland spring dayThe perfect ending to a Portland spring dayMy wife and I decided to go for a walk to Laurelhurst Park here in Portland this evening with our son. I wanted to get some photos of the plants and trees and came away with this nice shot of the sun flare over by the Laurelhurst Pond.

Technical details: 

Nikon D800; Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 @ 14mm; f/16; 1/5s. I chose a small aperture (f/16) so that there would be a nice sun flare (caused by a phenomenon called a diffraction spike) and so that most of the details of the photograph would be in focus. I put my tripod on its lowest setting to get as close to the ground as possible. 

Compositional considerations: 

With the setting sun and long shadows, I wanted to make sure to get a nice lens flare behind one of the trees. I was trying to use the shadows created by the trees to draw the viewer into the sun and the shores of the pond just beyond the trees, hopefully creating the feel that it would be a peaceful spot to wind down for the day. One thing I am still getting used to is the longer day light hours here in the Pacific Northwest and this has had an impact on my photography because of the duration of the day and the timing of sunset and sunrise.

Personal connection:

I am hopeful that through the photography you can get the sense that this park really is a special place and that is somewhere I like to go to get my mind off the busy hustle and bustle of the big city. Even deep within an urban environment you can find nature and solitude and the photograph is my way of connecting to that nature-urban interface.


Please feel free to comment and critique or let me know how the photo makes you feel or how you may have done it differently yourself... or if you have questions about how the photograph was taken, let me know! Until next time...


Matt Payne Photography
Thanks for your comment Steven - I wanted to keep the lake in there because it is a key identifier for that particular location. It may not add much else to the photo though, that you are right!
I like the way the shadow of the tree and the tree it's self lead your eye to the sun star but I find the lake to the right distracting and don't think it adds to the shot. I might have cropped differently. I would not even consider myself an advanced amateur so I could be way off.
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