Behind the Shot: Castle Crags

by | Jul 31, 2017 | Stories & Expeditions | 2 comments

Castle Crags Wilderness in the shadow of Mt. Shasta in northern California is a pretty amazing place! But even with epic surroundings, I still have to put thought into how I compose my shots (among other factors) so they’ll still look epic when I view them later on my computer at home.

This was my first vantage point of Castle Crags. Nice view, but I knew my photos would look better if the top of the tor was set apart from the background and not right in line with the horizon:

170709-James Staddon_9955

By going a little further downhill, this problem was fixed. I zoomed in for a close crop. An amazing shot with Mt. Lassen in the background! But really, it wasn’t the vista I was looking for:

170709-James Staddon_0018

Light was fading fast. I needed a foreground element. I found a position where this silhouetted tree was in the right place:

170709-James Staddon_9995

Amazing shot, but I felt like I could find something better. I kept looking around and tried a few different things but nothing seemed to work. Then I decided to try this patch of brush still in sunlight. I positioned it on the left side of the frame first, since the surrounding plant growth made it easier that way, but the balance just didn’t seem right. It feels too heavy on the left, don’t you think?

170709-James Staddon_9985

So I tried vertical, to help fill the frame better. Always try to shoot a scene vertical and horizontal anyway, right? It worked well!

170709-James Staddon_9984

But I still wanted to get a horizontal perspective. My last frame before the sun disappeared. Placing the foreground bush on the right was exactly what the composition needed. It was harder to set up but it was worth it. This is my favorite composition of the crags:

170709-James Staddon_9998

Castle Crags
Castle Crags Wilderness, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California
Subscribe to Lenspiration updates to download as a desktop background in the next Latest from Lenspiration update


And I think it will do a good job of looking just as epic on my computers’ desktop background as it did when I was standing there in real life, taking in the rugged beauty of the Castle Crags Wilderness area.

Get each article as soon as it goes live!

Recommended Ebook


  1. RaShell Southerland

    Incredible shots! That is where I grew up. Your pictures make me so happy. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I love the shots you shared with the bushes on the left side, then on the right. It really helped me see what you are talking about. Have a blessed day!

    • James Staddon

      That’s great! Gotta say, what an epic place to grow up. 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send the next blog post straight to your email inbox!

Thank you for subscribing!