Angling the Action

Chateau at Vaux le Vicomte

Chateau at Vaux le Vicomte

My husband, Dale, and I had taken the train from Paris to Vaux le Vicomte for the day. Fortunately, our drizzly Paris day turned to gorgeous sunshine as we arrived at this first-built of the royal palaces from the era of Louis XIV, the predecessor-palace to Versailles. We had spent the day touring the buildings and walking through the first of the European formal gardens built by the original landscape architect, Le Notre, all restored after decades of decay. I had been trying all day to get a good, dynamic shot of the palace and its gardens, to no avail. They weren’t bad, but most were flat, didn’t show off the palace or gardens, or lacked a dynamic quality. As we were walking toward the Visitor’s Entrance, I was watching the scenes unfold. We turned a corner and I spotted this scene, full of angles and light, and shot. I knew I had my memory.

How did I know? Angles created the dynamic action and action is one of the four elements of a Wow! photograph. The other three – color, light and pattern – were inherent in this subject and the weather that day. I stood where the placement of the gardens and the building in the frame of the photograph set the lines so the gardens and the palace are at an angle to each other. The clouds cooperated – they were also at an angle to the building. I tilted the camera up slightly to include the sky. The end-points of the planting areas also created angles leading to the building. I used the zoom lens to frame down tightly on the patters. The building is slightly off center, allowing the lines from the trees and garden on the right of the frame to lead the eye in from that side.

And so you have it! If you are having trouble getting your photograph to come alive, look for the angles!

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