Acadia National Park

Storytelling Example Using Kayakers on Jordan Pond by Todd Henson

Photography is a form of storytelling. A single photograph can tell a story. It can make you think, make you wonder about what’s happening, what you are seeing, where the people are looking, or what the animal is doing. And a series of photographs can be used to tell a longer story, one told in vignettes, each frame telling its own story while also contributing to the larger story as a whole.

National Geographic Magazine is full of great examples of stories told through series of images. Most articles in their magazine include a series of photographs that help tell the story, that enhance the words and help draw in the reader. These photographs are typically created intentionally with storytelling in mind, with that specific article in mind.

I recently thought about storytelling when going back through my photographs of Acadia National Park in Maine. I had not thought much about storytelling during the trip. It was a vacation to get away from work, to clear my mind and spend some time with my father. We just wanted to see some sights and eat some great food.

But recently, going back through the images, I began to see the potential for a story. The images were of Jordan Pond in the fog. Initially I was attempting to create landscape images, showing the pond and the fog along with parts of the shore, some rocks, trees, etc. But then I saw kayakers on the pond and began focusing in on them, integrating them into the photographs. They made great subjects.

Looking back at the images I wondered if there might be a combination of images that could tell a story. I tried to imagine my vacation had been an assignment, that I needed a series of photographs to go along with a story. So I edited them down to the selection you see in this post.

I don’t have a written story for these images. This was just an exercise to see how I might pull together images if there were one. But this also was an exercise to help get me thinking more intentionally on future trips or future photo shoots, to think about telling a story with the images I create. Instead of just creating a large number of individual images I can attempt to intentionally create a series to tell a story.

Have you ever attempted to tell a story using a series of images? If not then I encourage you to give it a try. If you have then leave a comment below and let me know about your experiences.

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Noontime Fog Over Jordan Pond by Todd Henson

Noontime Fog over Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

We were visiting Acadia National Park in Maine. We’d read about all the beautiful sights, the grand vistas from atop the mountains, the crystal clear ponds in the valleys, the beautiful greenery of trees and other plant life.

But sometimes what you find isn’t what you were expecting. In this case we found an overpowering white fog engulfing the entire landscape, from the highest peak to the lowest valley. This meant, at least on this day, there would be no photo of the ocean below taken from atop the mountains. There would be no photo of the twin hills at the end of the beautifully clear pond.

Though that might sound like a disappointing day, it turned out far from it. It simply meant looking elsewhere for a photograph. Looking at the scenery with a different eye. Looking more closely, to where the fog intersects with the scenery, where a little detail begins to emerge. And making the fog a part of the photograph instead of trying to avoid it.

And so I created the photograph above of noontime fog over Jordan Pond. I liked the shape and texture of the rocks jutting into the water. And I liked the trees just emerging from the fog along the far shoreline, almost forming a triangle as the fog lifted toward the right. I found a tree reaching slightly over the water I could use to help frame the image, providing a border on the far right. The water and rocks helped frame in the lower right. The left side is then left open to the water and the fog.

I chose to process the image in black and white. Really, the only color in the scene was the green of the trees. The rest was very monochromatic, so I didn’t feel the color added anything to the look or feel of the image. Black and white seemed appropriate. And I find myself increasingly drawn to monochromatic images.

The processing itself was very simple, mostly adjusting the colors within the image to create pleasing tones of grey, something that is done with any black and white or monochromatic image. Even though the final image is black and white the original raw image file from the camera contains all the color information in the scene. You can then tweak this color balance in software (I used Adobe Lightroom), even while the image is converted to black and white. You can make greens lighter or darker shades of gray. You can make a blue sky black. You have a lot of control to help you express your interpretation of the scene.

The moral of today’s story is to not give up if the scene you see isn’t what you had expected. There will still be photographic opportunities out there. You might just need to look a little closer and think a little differently. Imagine yourself putting on a new pair of glasses, a special pair that lets you see the world in a different light. And then open your eyes and explore this beautiful new world!

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Over the Bridge Through the Woods by Todd Henson

Over the Bridge Through the Woods. Click on the image for a larger view.

Today’s photograph is of Jordan Pond Bridge in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine. The bridge crosses Jordan Stream, which flows into nearby Jordan Pond. This bridge, and many others in the park, are part of a network of carriage roads built between 1913 and 1940 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Jordan Pond Bridge, as seen on the side of the bridge, was completed in 1920.

I highly recommend visiting Acadia National Park if you ever have the opportunity. It is a beautiful park, full of amazing sights. But it can get very crowded during the busy season, so plan accordingly.

I took some artistic license with this image, converting it to black and white and dodging and burning very liberally. I softened much of the background, trying to give the impression of a light layer of fog, or a slight sense of unreality. I wanted to embrace the mystery within the image. Let me know whether or not I was successful. Would you have done anything differently?

The resources below contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.