Details. Most landscape photographers tend not to think much about the details of a scene.

Personally, I’ve always found the details to be much more interesting. While I love a beautiful vista with mountains or oceans, my heart and soul seem to be more drawn to the details.

Details help tell the story

Yes, that wide, sweeping view tells an amazing story of the earth and more. But, when you want to learn more about the area, look for the details.

Think about it. Geologists, oceanographers, astronomers and other scientists find the majority of the information about what they’re studying in the detail. How old is the ice or tree? It’s figured out by taking a peek at the minute information stored in the life of the subject.

The same holds true for photography. 

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The view of the falls from the top of the path

When telling your story, present both

Depending on the intent of your photographs you may only need to present the overall story or only the detailed version. But, if you are presenting a story of a place in general, be sure to include the details.

I was recently at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, MN. It is one of my favorite places to go when I’m in the area. Besides the beautiful waterfall, Minnehaha Creek and the trails along the Mississippi River offer up so many photographic opportunities.

While I was excited to see ice when we first walked up, I was also disappointed by all the branches in the way of a clear view of the falls. I could have ignored the No Trespassing signs but my in-person conscious was with me and he was having none of that. 

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The falls from creek level

I grabbed a few images anyway because they tell of the place. They show the time of year, the weather and the main attraction of the park. I also made sure to zoom in on the waterfall itself. Ice and water make for some very interesting formations and shapes. This is also part of the larger story.

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Where ice and falling water meet

Then, we wandered down along the creek. This is where I found the magic. Little landscapes dotted throughout the length of the path. Mostly I turned my attention to the ice formations because I found them fascinating. Nature amazes me on a constant basis.

Since this was just a quick stop for us I wasn’t 100% in photography mode. Meaning, I didn’t have boots for the water or my tripod. I could have used both. So, I do what I always do and make the best of what I can with what I have.

There were a few things along the path and on the ice that also grabbed my attention. I do have to say that I may have missed some of this if I wasn’t actively seeking out the details.

I use my Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens quite often for searching out and capturing the details. Other than the two wide shots above the rest were created using this lens.

By focusing on the details I came away from our approximate half-hour stop with some images I was quite happy with. They still told the story of winter and weather and while they could be any creek anywhere, I have the wider shots to use if I need them to help tell a bigger story of our trip.