Holiday Island in Occoquan Bay / by Todd Henson

Black & white photograph of Holiday Island in Occoquan Bay

This is a photograph I created of Holiday Island in Occoquan Bay, where the Occoquan River flows into the Potomac River. It is a small privately owned island. At just over 15,000 square feet, it has room for a couple trees, a flag pole, and a hunter’s blind. Just offshore to the left is a platform for osprey to nest.

I have always liked this island and often photograph it from shore, each time trying to find a composition I like, trying different techniques, exploring the subject. On this particular day I liked the patterns the waves were making, especially after a motor boat passed from right to left. This created a different set of waves perpendicular to the rest.

Because the patterns were what drew me to the scene I thought converting it to black and white might be appropriate. Black and white often works well when you want to emphasize patterns or textures, when color is not important to the image, as was the case with this one.

One lesson this photograph reminds me of is to return to the same locations over and over again. Photograph the same things looking for different light, different atmospheric conditions, explore different compositions, try different angles or heights. Work the subject, get to know the subject, whatever that subject is.

Keep trying to improve on your previous attempts. You may just come out of it with multiple images you like, and you may learn a few lessons along the way. I doubt this will be the last time I photograph this island. And maybe I will end up liking one of those future photographs more than this one. I’d like to think so. It gives me something to look forward to.

Do you have any favorite subjects, or favorite locations to shoot?