Moving Away From Your Tonic?
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Thursday, March 03, 2016
By Gregory B. Cuvelier
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In music, every song is based around a tonal center or a key. And, if you want to be safe and conservative, you will start and end your musical idea with that tonal center note (tonic) which will resolve your musical expression back to “home base” or the center of the key you’re in. This can be very melodic and comforting to the listener to have a musical expression resolve to its tonic. However, if you stay within a key but shift your tonal center, you enter a new mode of the scale. Many musicians creatively do this to create something unique that is not so predictable. So, what does this have to do with a blog about photography? Quite a bit, in my opinion. Last week I wrote about the amazing Horsetail Falls phenomenon at Yosemite. A week has since passed, and I still think about that experience during the day and even while asleep at night. In essence, the experience shifted my total center and has left an indelible memory in my mind.

            In my last blog, I showed one of my favorite images of Horsetails Falls, which was a vertical composition. This is the classic iconic view that everyone dreams of capturing and it is beautiful. However, in this blog I wanted to shift the tonal center from the classic view to a different perspective, which is a horizontal composition. Although the falls is just as beautiful, the change in composition and perspective gives the image a whole new tonal center. Now, it is always safe to do the “classic” view, but what about thinking “outside the box” and doing something different? How about evaluating the risk/reward ratio and creating something new that inspires you - something that you haven’t seen before? A vision that will leave an indelible memory etched in your mind and leave you feeling inspired?

Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  ~ Albert Einstein



If you want to try shifting your tonal center, consider doing something different in life. Go on an adventure. Travel someplace you have never been before or someplace outside your comfort zone. Experience something new.  If you come on a photography workshop next year can I guarantee you will get an identical photograph? Of course the answer is no.  However, I think you will have an enjoyable experience, you will have the opportunity to create something unique and you may just shift your tonal center. Join me next year as we try and get a repeat performance from Mother Nature. I have a new location I found that has almost no crowds and offers a unique perspective. I hope to have the pleasure of your company on a future photo workshop.




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Summer - Very inspiring, hope to see more