Fujifilm Assignment • Centered Compositions Winner: Michael Blanchette

Ramberg, Lofoten Islands, Norway • Nikon Z7, Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S, f/8, 30sec, ISO 100

Picture by Michael Blanchette from USA

I am a New England based landscape photographer with a passion spanning across the USA and over to Europe. My aim is to create images which exude a sense of tranquility and simplicity.

Ramberg is a little village of some 350 inhabitants in the Lofoten Islands of Norway. Ramberg Beach sits directly on the temperamental Norwegian Sea, with its blue-green waters. I have been to the Lofoten Islands five times and never tire of the beauty of its winter scenery.

On this occasion I stopped to photograph the red shack on a moody afternoon. I decided to place the shack directly in the center of the frame to accentuate the color contrast between the white snow, the turquoise water and the structure. I used a 30-second exposure to smooth the water surface and clouds and allow to create a more serene look. In order to avoid overlapping the shack with the snow-capped mountains in the background, I ended up placing the horizon line close to the center as well, deliberately breaking the Rule of Thirds to achieve the desired effect.

This remains one of my favorite pictures from the Lofoten Islands, mainly because it conveys the frequent winter mood of these beautiful islands. In speaking with the owner of the red shack, we learned that the small hill to the immediate right of the structure is an ancient Viking burial mound that had been recently excavated by Norwegian archeologists.

Feedback by Pro Dan Bailey

You certainly captured a lot of serenity in a landscape that is oven very rugged and dynamic. At first, glance, I wasn’t sure the centred shack worked, simply because there is so much other subject matter in the photo, and most of it is rather imbalanced. However, when I settled down and took it all in, it occurred to me that the centred shack actually balances all that other stuff. It’s our safe place, our visual respite apart from the rugged cliffs, the deep snow, the frigid water and the wide-open windy sky.
It works for me because for everything else in the frame that is off-center is balanced by some other off-center element. The rocks at lower left by the clouds on the horizon at right, the snow hump at lower right by the mountain ridge at the distant left, etc…
In this way, that little red shack provides both a sense of visual balance and imaginary balance from all of the other imperfect and evocative areas of the frame. And of course, the red contrasts nicely with the predominant cool and rather cold tones in the rest of the scene.
Living in Alaska, I know what it’s like to stand in the snow and cold as you gauge your scene, make those creative decisions and build your shot. I think you’ve done a nice job here and created an image that so well illustrates the mood of the scene that you were immersed in during those brief moments.

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