Entice the Eye

My latest post to the Outdoor Photographer blog, Entice the Eye, discusses strategies for engaging the viewer’s interest and leading their eye into the image. The image I use to illustrate the post, below, is a variation of an image I previously posted called Light’s Echo. I’m honestly on the fence as to which variation I prefer—both have strong and weak points. I made the image in Zion National Park. I hiked up a steep trail to reach this flooded canyon, and spent some time swimming in the pool looking for an interesting angle before settling on this view looking out. I stood on a small rock sticking out of the water so that I would avoid creating ripples. After the water settled down, I waited for peak sunset light to bathe the distant cliff face in  golden color.

I made several variations of this scene, but it was only after I processed the images and studied them carefully that I decided I had missed an opportunity, and that I should have included the rock I was standing on in the image. I returned to the same spot several days later, only to find that the water had subsided to the point that my planned composition was no longer possible. I don’t know for sure whether the shot would have really worked or not, but I do wish I had thought of trying it the first time I was there! I’ve said it before and will likely say it again: when you are on location, it pays to try as many different variations as possible, just so you make sure you don’t miss something special. Canon 5DII, 14mm, ISO 100, f/14, 1.6 seconds.

Ian PlantAbout Ian Plant (414 Posts)

World-renowned professional photographer, writer, and adventurer Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to and blogger for Outdoor Photographer Magazine, a Contributing Editor to Popular Photography Magazine, a monthly columnist for Landscape Photography Magazine, and a Tamron Image Master. Ian is also the author of numerous books and instructional videos. Ian leads photography workshops and tours around the world to help beginner and advanced photographers explore and expand their personal vision.


  • Flip the photo upside down, please! It is better then 😉

  • I like this better that Light’s echo – the more generous sweep of the rock “wave” on the right and the lack of vertical symmetry is more pleasing to me. However i also (somewhat) agree with the previous poster that including a reflection of the rock but cutting off the rock itself produces an incongruence of sorts that makes my eye bump up against the upper edge of the frame and stay there. Since the horizon is included my mind recognizes the bottom part of the image as a reflection and immediately goes up to find the origin of the reflection. This is a bit like those upside-down “School Zone” signs printed on roads. I am so used to reading from the top down that I always read them as “Zone School”. I understand what you were going for, it is a subtle way to communicate your message and make it something other than a fairly routine reflection shot, I am just providing my reaction to it :-)

  • Both are great photos, though I like this one more due to the sweeping lines on the RHS.

  • We all belong to that school Ian – as I’ve done that same exact thing. It’s called being human. Our senses tell us one thing while on location. As soon as we’re in front of the monitor, it hits us squarely between the eyes; “What was I thinking?”
    Excellent advice! And only with seasoned ‘brain’ power will we all have the notion to ‘pick’ the sight apart with various pov’s and angles.
    Ahh, hindsight – it’s definitely worth the forethought! (at least while we’re on location).

  • The foreground rocks contrasted against the saturated water reflection almost look as if selective color was applied. I don’t know. I think the original works better for me.

  • Sounds like a feeling of contriteness Ian. I’ve been there and done that many times before so I can totally relate. Personally, I prefer the other version better, which is more conventional. I like symmetry and I feel it is more cohesive and easier to understand. This one feels less balanced and darker. The crooked reflection throws me off and it is hard to appreciate the view up the canyon.