More and more, I find myself trying to chase creative ideas and amazing light. It’s tempting to focus on iconic scenes, like a famous arch or mountain view in a national park. Shooting amazing subjects quickly becomes a bit of a crutch though. It can let you gloss over critical artistic elements, because it’s easy to take the easy route when a subject is so good you almost can’t ruin the shot.

Even when I head out with a shot in mind, I try to force myself to also shoot unknown subjects or try new things. Breaking free of preconceived ideas forces you to hone your compositional skills and interpretation of the light, because they become so much more important with ordinary subjects.

This image is a great example. Near this scene is a raging river and some amazing rock formations I came to shoot. As I wrapped up my intended shot, the sun started to create stunning beams of light over the clouds. They didn’t really interact with the scene in front of me, so I started searching for an interesting foreground and found this pool of still water with a perfect mirror surface.

There is nothing extraordinary about this particular place. It could be almost anywhere. The rocks and trees aren’t unique. The whole image is based on great light, balance, and post-processing. Yet it turned out to be one of my favorite images of 2017, because I forced myself to find the beauty around me.

A “lacuna” is negative space for music. A deliberate quiet in the music to create a sense of serenity. This scene feels like that to me, having stepped back from the crashing sounds of raging rapids only to encounter an intense peace just before an intense sun breaks through the sky.

Greg Benz Photography