Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23, 2012

In the late 80's I went down to the American Southwest with a photographer friend who was showing me places he had visited the proceeding year. One particular subject always stood out in my mind and that was Antelope Canyon on Navajo Land near Page Arizona. My friend and I had to walk a mile or more to get to the Upper Canyon and when we got there a large bull was guarding the entrance.  He was looking for shade and wasn't going to give up his spot easily.  Eventually the bull moved on and we entered the slot canyon.  The light was amazing and I felt like we entered some ancient ruin and the stillness in the air was like a silent prayer to the spirit gods.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17, 2013

Photography is a paradox of technique and style and purpose.  When we enter photography, I feel it is important to learn your skills from beginning to end (it used to mean in the old days loading your own film, processing the film, printing the negative and then displaying it for critique).  Now, it is learning the cameras functions. Put your camera on manual and do tests to understand how your meter functions under different lighting situations.  Play with all the bells and whistles on your camera to see if there are any options that could be used to improve your image results.  Study composition and discover why good photographs attract attention.  How did the photographer find the subject and use light and composition to make a quality image. 

We have a tendency to get in a rut when we photograph and we end up playing it safe and setting the camera controls the same no matter what subject presents itself to us.  One of things that I emphasize in my shooting is to be prepared but also be open to the opportunities that present themselves.  Preparation is done before I get to my destination.  This could be as close as my back yard and shooting frost close-ups on leaves or spider webs.  

Preparation is knowing your lenses and camera controls and planning ahead, a starting point in your shooting.  This starting point is just that a start.  Next, it is to shoot a few frames and begin to get into your subject.  Your mind begins to see new and unexpected details or compositions that look interesting.  You begin to open up to your subject and let your subjects true nature, as you perceive it, reveal itself to you.   I have never photographed a subject that didn't surprise me in some way.   All subjects  reveal something unexpected to the photographer that is paying attention.  And that is the paradox I was talking about in the beginning.  You prepare, you have your own style and then serendipity places you in a whole new relationship to your subject.  You are no longer worrying about your exposures and shutter speeds because you are acting intuitively and on a deeper subconscious level making adjustments to fit your interpretation of your subject.  You start in one direction and end up miles away in another more open purpose.  Your purpose now is not to limit your exploration but to broaden it.  You begin to let go of your dogmas and respond to your subject naturally and creatively.     

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 2, 2013

In order for imagery to be meaningful it has to have content with purpose.  Light, technique, composition, insight, intuition, patience are all very important as you look for subjects to photograph.

Edward Weston said, "Good composition is only the strongest way to see the subject.  It cannot be taught because, like all creative effort, it is a matter of personal growth".

Images taken randomly and at a shallow level of consciousness can become frivolous.  You must try and attach the subject you are photographing to and experience whether it is emotional or physical,  whereby the viewer understands your passion for your subject first hand, simply and without confusion.  Pay attention to the details in your photo that interfere with your intent. Don't be in a hurry to move away from an interesting scene.  Soak it in, look deeper, experiment with composition, with exposure, think about shooting vertical and then horizontal. Take notes about where the sun is in relation to your subject, would a sunrise or sunset be better and would that make the image more dramatic. Maybe find out when a full moon is coming and plan a shoot around that.  Good image making takes patience, planning and purpose. Finally seeing your subject with fresh eyes for the first time, the equivalence (Minor White) to your feelings manifested in external nature creates an image to be shared with pride.