Castle Crags Wilderness in the shadow of Mt. Shasta in northern California is a pretty amazing place! But even with epic surroundings, I still have to put thought into how I compose my shots (among other factors) so they’ll still look epic when I view them later on my computer at home.

This was my first vantage point of Castle Crags. Nice view, but I knew my photos would look better if the top of the tor was set apart from the background and not right in line with the horizon:

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By going a little further downhill, this problem was fixed. I zoomed in for a close crop. An amazing shot with Mt. Lassen in the background! But really, it wasn’t the vista I was looking for:

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Light was fading fast. I needed a foreground element. I found a position where this silhouetted tree was in the right place:

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Amazing shot, but I felt like I could find something better. I kept looking around and tried a few different things but nothing seemed to work. Then I decided to try this patch of brush still in sunlight. I positioned it on the left side of the frame first, since the surrounding plant growth made it easier that way, but the balance just didn’t seem right. It feels too heavy on the left, don’t you think?

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So I tried vertical, to help fill the frame better. Always try to shoot a scene vertical and horizontal anyway, right? It worked well!

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But I still wanted to get a horizontal perspective. My last frame before the sun disappeared. Placing the foreground bush on the right was exactly what the composition needed. It was harder to set up but it was worth it. This is my favorite composition of the crags:

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Castle Crags
Castle Crags Wilderness, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California
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And I think it will do a good job of looking just as epic on my computers’ desktop background as it did when I was standing there in real life, taking in the rugged beauty of the Castle Crags Wilderness area.

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