Photographic Examples-3-Green River

Alain Briot

Storm along the Green River

This is the third of three instances where I captured this light quality in a photograph (seeClearing Spring StormandWhite House Stormin the same series of essays).  I was going to sayin a successful photographwhen I realized that I had not seen this light quality in any other instance.  As it turned out, I created a successful image in all three instances.

Of the three this may be my least favorite.  This image has always been a challenge to process and print, and this because of the enormous range of contrast between shadows and highlights.  Just likeClearing Spring Stormit was created with a 35mm camera but this time on transparency material rather than print film, a decision that further increased the contrast present in the scene.  As things went, the storm moved in and out quickly and I did not think about bracketing the photograph. In fact, I did not take many photographs of this scene at all –maybe a total of 2 or 3 at most- because this was towards the end of our river trip and I was running out of film. In fact, as things went, I ran out of film the next day and had to borrow someone’s disposable camera because I was feeling overly frustrated not to be able to photograph.

Of the three my personal favorite is still the first one, Clearing Spring Storm, Canyon de Chelly.  This shows how difficult it is to express a personal vision of the landscape when the light plays a preponderant role in the expression of your vision.  First, the light I seek happens very rarely. Second, when it does happen I may or may not be there and if I am there I may not be at the right place at the right time. Third, I still have to compose an enthralling image that uses this light effectively.  Why?  Because light alone is not enough – the subject and the composition have to be there as well. 

If the composition is not powerful enough, if the subject is not there, one can have the best light in the world and not be able to create a good photograph. I can remember numerous instances where I watch beautiful light play upon the landscape without knowing how to photograph because I could not find a satisfying composition, or because the subject wasn’t there in the first place.

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
November 2010


About Alain Briot

Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, printing and on marketing photographs. Alain is also the author of Mastering Landscape Photography.  This book is available from Amazon and other bookstores as well as directly from Alain.  You can find more information about Alain’s work, writings and tutorials on his website at

Alain welcomes your comments on this essay as well as on his other essays available in Briot’s View on this site. You can reach Alain directly by emailing him at