Category Archives: Landscape
Fuji X-E1 – 55-200mm
In my last post I said, “at first blush there seemed to be just one composition, just one shot, the wall of color, however, that is almost never true.” The lead image in today’s post came after being mesmerized by the wall of color, working that scene AND THEN looking for something else. It pays to stay in a location for more than a few minutes. If you are still and allow it, more images will present themselves. Don’t be so quick to move on to another location. And look, there was a vertical composition too!
Fuji X-E1 – 55-200mm
A comment with regard to the comments that were shared on my last post. With the exception of one, all liked the tighter square crop best. If you recall, I said I presented three right answers, however, most settled on one they preferred. What does this mean? First, I would suggest if you had never seen the square crop you would have liked one of the other image just as well. In addition and probably more importantly, I believe it cements the idea that it pays to work a scene that you are drawn to. As you simplify the scene, leaving behind just the elements that matter, while eliminating all that don’t, typically the image becomes stronger. I think that is exactly what happened with that last post. Folks were drawn to the neat tidy composition more than the others.
While shooting with Dewitt Jones one time, I was struck by how patient and willing he was to stay with a subject. He found thistle in a field as the sun was setting and stayed in that spot for almost 2 hours. He never moved, he was invested in that moment. He was drawn to this particular scene and was willing to stay and work it. I remember his wife Lynette saying, just move on if you wish, he will be there for awhile! She knew that he would be happy alone, working the scene. I remember thinking, what on earth does he see? I don’t see a thing! Was I ever wrong, the result of his patience was brilliant!
For the processing of the lead images, I used a diffused glow technique.
This image was created on the last morning of our workshop. We went to a different part of the dunes, a part that I am not as attracted to. While out there, I was fighting old familiar feelings of self doubt. You know, I’m not seeing anything out here, this is not as good as the other side, I’m not feeling inspired out here today, etc, etc… Then I stopped, I mean literally stopped and just stood still for about five minutes. Then I thought, why am I chasing images that are not here? Why am I chasing images that are like the other side of the dunes when that is not what is here? At that moment, I realized I was indeed trying to find more of the same in an area that did not offer the same. I remembered that I needed to stop chasing and start letting images come to me! Then as the sun crested the horizon, I began to see shapes forming around the ridges of the dunes and this image offered itself up. A much different image than the other dune images I’ve been posting, however, a worthy image non the less.
So, stop chasing and start allowing images to reveal themselves to you. Much like the last line in the movie August Rush where the young boy says, “the music is all around us, all you have to do is listen.” I say, the images are all around us, all you have to do is see.
A reminder, if you like the content on this blog and want to share (and I hope you do) please open the blog post by clicking on its title. Now you’ll be able to see the sharing icons at the bottom of the blog post. This makes it easy to share content on your favorite social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more.
I wanted to pass along a very good read. A tremendous landscape photographer, Ian Plant has published a very good eBook titled, VISUAL FLOW about composition. I have found it to be as good or better than most books about this subject. Its filled with good examples and wonderful images. A bit pricy for an eBook but worth the money and it looks great on my iPad! Highly recommended.
I Didn’t See That
Text and Images – Chuck Kimmerle
There is a myth regarding landscape photography. This myth, routinely propagated in online photo forums - and reinforced by lazy and inept photographers whose only desire is to mimic postcards they had seen in a National Park gift shop – states that, because we do not have physical control over the landscape, our genre cannot be considered art. That we, as photographers, play a subservient role in the creation of the image. In other words, the scene dictates the image, and we simply, and obediently, comply. Of course, the implication is that all of our photos will, and do, look alike. No creativity necessary.
Of course, those of us who are serious about landscape photography as an art form, who are driven, inspired, passionate and talented, and who have something personal and worthwhile to share, know this is simply not true. We are individuals, not clones. We are the driving force in the creative equation, each with our own unique stories, our own experiences, and our own emotions, all which combine to shape our respective, unique visions.
This was reinforced to me a couple weeks ago during a photo workshop in Death Valley. On no fewer than four occasions, participants said to me, “I didn’t see that” while viewing images I had made during group outings. Images shot very close to where they were standing. When I viewed their own work, I often had the same response…I didn’t see that. How, if we were standing in proximity, if we were but simple, subservient photographic clones did we see, and create, images which were so different? And how, if we were not artists, did we present these images in such vastly different ways?
I can take that one stop further. Not only would I view a particular scene differently than my comrades, I may very well see it differently than….myself. For example, on two successive mornings I was photographing with students on the dunes. On the second morning, I excitedly photographed a developing dune-scape, exploring the curves and dimensionality of this subject as the light changed, satisfied that I had found a new and worthwhile scene. However, when the light had evolved past the point of usefulness, as I was packing my gear, I discovered that it was the exact scene I had shot the day before. The same divots, the same curves, the same basic shadows. I had, on that morning, seen it differently than I had the day before. The resulting images, despite the same physical characteristics of the scene, were quite different. In each case, I saw the scene, and visualized the final images, a bit differently.
So, while landscape photographers may not have direct physical control over the elements which comprise a landscape, we are far from mere pawns. Through the filters of our respective backgrounds, biases, personalities, feelings, visions, intentions, etc, we can each see and create as individuals. It is only after the photography is done, while sharing our images with colleagues, that we are exactly alike, each, in turn, repeating…I didn’t see that.
One thing I remember Chuck saying as we drove around together was something like, “you have to believe there is an image everywhere”. He went on to say that he thinks with rare exception this is true. Will it be a gallery shot? Not always but you can find something if you believe. Of course in my Dream – Believe – Create program, I speak of believing in yourself but Chuck is speaking about something else. He is speaking about believing that there is indeed an image almost everywhere to be found. You just have to believe there is. I think he is right on. So often we look at a place and if beauty is not staring us in the face we tend to walk away. Anyone can stand at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley and see the obvious shot of Manly Beacon, however put them in the salt flats or Dunes and it might not be so easy. Chuck told one highly skilled participant to slow down and stop chasing images. He suggested that he be still and let the images come to him. Without a camera, evaluate the scene, read the light, look for elements that will work together, consider what your post processing options might be. Sound familiar? I’ve spoken about this before here on the blog as well as in my lectures. Easier said than done. I still find myself doubting and forcing, so it was nice to hear Chuck’s gentle reminder. Now, go believe you can find an image in your backyard and make it. Then send me an email with the image! I’d love to see what you come up with.
Today’s image is again from the Dunes. A very different image from the previous one in that is is not as contrasty and more subtle. It has become one of my favorites from the trip.
I love going back through images to find hidden gems. I’ve spoken about this before, but feel it worth another reminder. Give yourself time from the shoot so you will be able to evaluate the images for what they are, and not what you had hoped they would be. Now, don’t get me wrong. It would be best to craft your image in the viewfinder and feel confident you have THE shot. That said, I still feel we are drawn to certain images when we do our review and these pop out because of our emotional and visceral reaction to them. What then happens is, we tend to move on leaving behind other images that are also great! With today’s image, I have already processed three others from this particular morning shoot. As I went back to review images, now almost two months old, I had new knowledge. I have learned more about processing this type of image and was able to review the RAW files with a new perspective. This new knowledge helped me to see the potential in other similar images. And then I decided to play with a crop and came up with the image below. Another right answer!
Thanks for the feedback on yesterday’s post, lets keep it going. Here is another from the same location. So what changed? The clouds, the composition, the time of day and the filter. How did that happen? I kept working the scene, asking what I’m being drawn to, what do I want to feature? I stayed up on the walkway and then jumped down to be at the waters edge look to see how each looked. I tired wide and and not so wide angle choices. I tried polarized and unpolarized versions. In other words I worked the scene. I waited for clouds to be in the right place. I was concerned about balance and made adjustments accordingly. Too often I see folks at workshops take a shot and move on. Not me, if I’m drawn to a scene I will stay for awhile making sure to work it.
Now its your turn, how do you feel about this take on the same scene you saw yesterday?
The 2012 Nature Visions Expo was another winner. This group does a tremendous job each year with a an event that takes a ton of time and volunteer help. I was happy with the way my new presentation, Discovery & The Creative Choice went. Thank you, to all that came out for the lecture. If you’ve not been to the event, pencil it in for next year. There are terrific vendors available with great show deals on lots of good gear. The lectures, workshops and keynote are all very well planned with excellent speakers and teachers. It is a great event.
I’ve added a new Folio to my Folios tab, Ireland.
The blog picture is yet another from that magical two days I had at Hidden Lake. This was very late in the day just before I captured the single yellow tree with reflection posted a few posts back. The light lasted for just a minute and I was only able to make four images in that time. This is one.
The main or lead blog image was captured 3 days after the image below. The lead image was captured in soft overcast diffused light. The other (below) in early morning, soft gold light. Essentially the same scene captured on different days in different light. Two completely different feeling images. Light matters.