Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another Muriwai seascape

with 29 comments

Seascape at Muriwai 3494

All right, so here’s another seascape from Muriwai on the west coast of the North Island on February 7th. Ten days later, on the west coast of the South Island, I found myself in the company of some French visitors who had come off a tour bus, and at one point I heard a woman who was taking pictures say to her friend that she doesn’t like vertical landscapes. I briefly interjected myself into the conversation and said that for me it amounts to the same thing. I’ll grant that for technical reasons (particularly depth of field) it’s often easier to get a good horizontal landscape, and our minds may be predisposed to like panoramas, but all the more reason for striving to give vertical landscapes their due. Okay, landscape photographers (and viewers), you’ve got your topic, so chime in if you’re of a mind to.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 16, 2015 at 12:57 PM

29 Responses

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  1. You have chosen substance and she is vertical here! Nice


    March 16, 2015 at 1:18 PM

  2. Spectacular; I can almost smell the sea air. Wish I were smelling it!!!
    Lovely the way you show the movement of water on rocks.


    March 16, 2015 at 1:59 PM

    • It was the patterns made by the foaming surf spreading over the horizontal rocks that appealed to me. I wish I could see it again in person now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 16, 2015 at 2:06 PM

  3. Great composition!!

  4. Very beautiful picture!!

  5. Most of the landscape folks I know have a tendency to shoot verticals…myself included. I often need to remind myself to turn the lens 90°.

    Steve Gingold

    March 16, 2015 at 5:27 PM

  6. Other comments have already said it, but I do like the composition here, Steve – the way you’ve captured the different directions of water flow and included a small island. Very appealing!


    March 16, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    • I appreciate hearing your take on this, Jane. After I sent this post out I realized that the upper 30% or so of the image forms a distinctly horizontal landscape of its own.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 16, 2015 at 7:48 PM

      • Yes, I was going to comment that it looks like two pictures combined. 🙂


        March 16, 2015 at 11:21 PM

        • If I can alter Leonard Cohen:

          “Then she gets you on her wavelength
          And she lets the ocean answer….”

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 17, 2015 at 7:42 AM

  7. So, I am assuming that you didn’t get your feet wet taking this photo although it looks as though you were standing there on the rocks to take the photo. At least that is how it appears to my eyes.


    March 17, 2015 at 12:00 AM

    • I was footloose and fancy free, as the expression goes, and also foot dry. I got quite close but never left a place where I still felt safe. In situations like that I’m more concerned abut the camera equipment than about getting wet myself.

      You’re reminded me of an incident on the Pacific coast of California four decades ago when a rogue wave came up and hit me. I spent the next half-hour drying off my cameras and camera bag the best I could. There was no permanent damage, but it didn’t matter in the long run because that bag and the equipment in it got stolen shortly afterwards.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 17, 2015 at 7:52 AM

  8. This is a great example of a vertical landscape. I try to do both. It also depends on the location and the focal point you want to show.

    Raewyn's Photos

    March 17, 2015 at 4:30 PM

  9. Both of these seascapes are deeply appealing. It’s true that the water itself is beautiful in a way that our Gulf of Mexico isn’t.

    On the other hand, there’s quite a difference between the upper and lower Texas coasts. So many rivers directly or indirectly empty into the Gulf on the upper coast — the Sabine, Nueces, Brazos, Colorado, Trinity, San Jacinto — that they literally muddy the Gulf waters.There are times of year when offshore waters turn a lovely blue-green, or even blue, and the line between the muddy river flow and the Gulf waters is amazingly sharp. When calm weather allows Galveston Bay to settle, you can see tidelines just as clearly — incoming Gulf waters pushing back muddy bay water. The first two photos of Brazos Santiago pass show the phenomenon nicely.

    South of Port Aransas, especially between Corpus and Brazos Santiago, the waters are clearer, and the beach sand whiter. It’s really quite pretty.

    The other thing we lack is an interesting coastline. No rocks for us, except for the jetties! I think the reason this vertical composition works so well is because of the way the rocks draw the eye up and out. In your previous photo, the horizon itself plays a more significant role, making a horizon-tal composition more appealing. Now that I think of it, nearly every offshore photo I have was taken horizontally, because the horizon and the waves were the primary interest.

    Now that I’ve admired your rocks, I’m wondering if the same sort of image could be found down at the jetties.


    March 18, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    • The advantage you have of living close to the coast is that you get to see it through the seasons and in varying weather. The first photo in your link shows the Gulf looking more vivid than I’ve ever seen it, and if only I could find it looking like that on a visit I’d be happy. From what you say, my chances are better further south, where I’ve rarely been. Once again, I’d be happy to be corrected by an appealing reality.

      As you also point out, nothing is going to make our flat coastline look like the more rugged (and therefore picturesque) one of New Zealand, graced as it is by rocks and hills and mountains and volcanoes in so many places (and I never even made it down to what is reputed to be the most appealing part, the Fiordland of the far southwest.

      Yes, it’s hard to shake the horizon in horizontal (even subconsciously, as I think many people don’t recognize the connection between the two words). It sounds like you’ve set yourself a challenge of taking some vertical pictures down by the jetties.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2015 at 9:15 AM

  10. Landscape or portrait? It’s a very interesting subject. Very early on in my photography study, when I was working with 35 mm & medium format film, looking at fine prints in 4×5- and 8×10-inch format, and printing on 4×6-, 5×7-, and 8×10-inch and other European-format papers, I came to the personal conclusion that–unless one becomes a ” purist slave” to producing full-frame images–the subject matter is the only thing that should dictate the format of the final image. It all boils down to either (1) how the photographer visualized what he/she had in mind to present to the viewer when the image was made and positioned the camera accordingly, or (2) new inspiration that comes upon study of an image for an alternative composition within the frame of the original. Both are equally valid, in my opinion, and one should always keep an open mind to allow for new creativity.


    March 23, 2015 at 10:41 PM

    • I agree wholeheartedly: “the subject matter is the only thing that should dictate the format of the final image.” I’ve never understood why some photographers make a fetish out of showing the whole frame and never cropping. As you pointed out, different cameras take pictures with different height/width ratios, but the scene in front of the photographer is what it is, and the photographer has to use whatever camera is at hand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 24, 2015 at 8:50 AM

  11. I can’t imagine conceiving a dislike of “vertical landscapes.” This is a gorgeous example of “the long view” that a vertical shot can offer.

    Susan Scheid

    March 25, 2015 at 3:15 PM

  12. […] Heading north from Wellington on the overcast morning of February 22nd, I stopped along SH 1 in the vicinity of Pukerua Bay and took pictures of the jagged coastal rocks. Contrasting in color and definition with those prominent lichen-covered rocks in the foreground is a greyed-out and grey-cloud-covered Kapiti Island in the distance. Though there’s no chalk in the scene, you can chalk up one more vertical landscape. […]

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