In millions of photography classes, Ansel Adams’ The Tetons and the Snake River is displayed in the lecture on composition. The instructor notes how the S-curve of the river reflecting the sky gives the eye a lazy path back to the majestic mountains. Entire tutorials on-line are dedicated to this sort of compositional technique, often folded into a discussion of leading lines. Funny how that Google search turned up dozens of photography sites and none about sculpture, painting or drawing. It’s almost as if they know who I am.
I must have learned this lesson well, because as I ride my bicycle around Oshkosh, I constantly see examples and think to myself: “Well, there’s an S-curve. That would make a nice composition.” Maybe if I took photographs of them it would help me get over this.
Parks are a common place to look, especially where modern trails have been built among existing mature trees. One way to highlight the curve is to photograph into the low sun so the light is reflecting back toward the camera. Getting a little higher viewpoint helps counter foreshortening and opens up that S, as with this view from the bridge over the inlet to the lagoon in Menomonee Park.