Week 20 #FridayFotoTalk ~ How do you “Warm Up” creatively? (Also posted on Instagram but may migrate here soon)
Say you’re in a location and you have your camera with you, ready to take a picture at any time. You haven’t taken any pictures that day so far or the previous few days (or longer). How do you go from not being in the “zone” to suddenly being ready to shoot/record/create/interpret? You’re camera is always ready but are you?
I’m definitely not. I find I need to warm up my creativity as it’s not available to turn off or on like a light switch. We talked about music being this catalyst before but there’s another way I warm up creatively. I observe and use my phone. It’s really fairly simple.
I’ll use the phone camera liberally as I walk, stopping at whatever catches my eye and looking a little closer. Sometimes I don’t even take a phone pic, just look and move on. Other times the act of stopping to look reveals something of interest which I wouldn’t have noticed before. Often times, I stop and look at something, take a picture or two and move on without ever looking at the pictures. The pictures themselves aren’t important, it’s the act of stopping and exercising the creative muscles prior to using them behind the lens of a different camera. So I observe and practice, a lot.
How do you warm up when you shoot? Curious to know how others approach this. Thanks for reading:)
Light of Zion // 2019 // Portra 160
Week 19 #FridayFotoTalk ~ Light or Composition: Which is more important in your Nature Images?
*copied from IG so please forgive the abbreviated text
This question may seem simple for Nature Photography as of course light is the most important (so we think). “Light” seems to be used in all aspects of Nature Photography from chasing light to descriptions of light to names of businesses and books. You just don’t hear people chasing compositions or talking about composition like it’s sacred. So light must be more important, right?
Many Nature Photographers spend much time on composition, from being at a certain location, a certain angle, certain elements in the image and certain vantage points. Then there’s the composition once the camera is out of the bag. A little lower, a little to the side, everything aligning just right. So much effort is given towards composition so it must be more important, right?
I see light and composition as equivalents in Nature Photography, with neither being more important. They’re both essential. Light, or appropriate light, brings a subject to life. It defines textures, colors, tones, depth, atmosphere and can influence the overall sensation of an image.
Composition is something I feel works best when it’s not noticed. This is a relatively new approach to composition for me as I’ve always thought of composition as a way to draw the eye towards certain elements in a Landscape/Nature image. Now I’m leaning more towards composition as a puzzle or challenge. To complete the puzzle, the composition should present the scene in a balanced and appealing way while remaining visually effortless. This puzzle requires as much attention, practice and time as capturing good/appropriate light in an image.
Do you feel Light or Composition is more important to you? The same? There’s no correct answer and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading and sharing,
For the past few months I’ve been posting a question and topic for discussion on my Instagram with the goal of helping others learn. From these 18 weeks of discussions, I’ve also learned a great deal and I want to expand the audience a little. Moving forward, I’ll be posting the same topic/question here for anyone who would rather use this space instead of IG. Moving forward, this may become a weekly series on this blog only but I’m not sure at this point.
Instagram is a great place to connect with others but it can be sort of an echo chamber at times. It’s also a platform many people use on their phones despite the ability to use IG on your desktop now. Being a mobile heavy platform discourages long form discussion for many people but there are many people who only stay within that platform for all things photography.
Starting 2/28/20 I’ll be sharing a weekly topic for discussion and I welcome anyone to join the discussion. Please know this is a conversation that is on respectable terms and people definitely share different opinions. I welcome these different opinions as ways to grow and see beyond our own perspectives. I will also reserve the right to delete (or block) any comments which are disrespectful as this is an environment to learn and have a discussion.
Lastly, while I am a professional landscape photographer, I don’t consider myself an expert on any of these topics. I present them as ideas to explore and think about, many of which go beyond the scope of photography magazines or websites. It’s a work in progress but I hope you will join the conversation here or on IG.
Thank you for reading and I’ll share more tomorrow.
A short post with a question that has been on my mind for some time now. I’ll just get to the point an ask: Is it possible to identify a landscape photographer from their work alone? Meaning, can you simply look at the images and know which photographer created them?
I genuinely don’t know this answer and have been wanting to write about it. I figured I’d start with asking because maybe I’m missing something that others already know. Are there photographers you can identify by their work? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments and I’m sure anyone interested in this would like to see too. I’ll try to post some links as some come to mind in the coming days.
I’ll elaborate on this more next week as I have many thoughts on this issue. And for context of this discussion, I’m not interested in photographers of the past, only current Landscape Photographers.
Thanks and I look forward to continuing this discussion soon.
Update: There seems to be little to no interest in this topic so I’m putting it on hold for now. I assure you this topic IS of interest to me and I’ll have a much more comprehensive post upcoming with multiple examples.
I’m going to try something new and I hope I can continue doing this on a regular basis. I struggle with a consistent workflow for adding images and recent work to my website and updating it regularly. I also struggle with editing/keywording/organizing my images in Lightroom. This leads to me share work randomly and I feel disorganized in my approach and presentation. So I’m going to try to change this and take a more organized and thoughtful approach to presenting, updating and discussing images.
~ Comprehension ~
2019 // Velvia 50 // Utah
Earlier this winter I spent some time in far Southern Utah and Arizona traveling and exploring landscapes which were both familiar and unfamiliar. One location I visited was a particular river that I’m fond of. There were very few people in the area due to the season which is quite the opposite from the insanely busy summer season. I camped for a few nights and explored this river in different conditions, crossing it several times and doing my best to ignore the icy cold water. I didn’t have neoprene socks on so limiting my time in the water was key to enjoying this beautiful section of river.
In the sunshine, the air was pleasantly warm. The river makes several bends and at times you must walk in the shade where the temperature is starkly cold. There isn’t a trail or path to follow except for the river itself. At times you are walking over the structures of ice, crushing it with every loud, rhythmic step. I always feel a little guilty for crushing such fragile beauty while walking but in reality, it’s just ice. I’d walked the river one morning without my camera to simply explore and observe with a hot cup of coffee in my hand. The warm morning sunshine and hot coffee was a nice contrast to the frigid water and deep, cold shade. Sip a little coffee, crush a little ice and stop every 5 feet to examine the beautiful structures before stepping on them as I carried on up the river.
Later in the day, I repeated this walk in the much warmer afternoon sun but this time the sounds were different. The crunching and crushing of ice was replaced with the roar of rushing water. The river had risen over a foot and was flowing with noticeably more force and sound. All the ice was gone except for a few patches in the deep, dark shade against the sandstone walls. Everything that I was looking at and crushing earlier in the day was gone. Vanished. Melted.
I returned to camp and enjoyed a small fire under the dark, clear Winter skies in one of the darkest places in the USA. The river was still rushing as the Milky Way spanned the sky (Yes, the Milky Way is visible in the Winter, just not the core that everyone photographs). Clear skies and dry air in the Desert SW allow the temperature to plummet in the Winter and upon letting the fire die out, I crawled into bed.
There’s no rush on an ice cold Winter morning in the desert. I was along a river so I wasn’t depending on anything in the sky for images. Sunrise was for the eyes, not the camera. The 2nd morning I again made some hot coffee to go and grabbed the camera this time before heading up the river.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
An endless display of beauty lined the river the previous day’s high water was once again frozen solid along the banks. The river was considerably lower as much of the water was locked up in ice. Miles of this delicate, beautiful ice had formed overnight while I was dreaming, just as it had the night before. My pace slowed to the point of barely moving while my eyes scanned left and right, absorbing as much information as possible. There was so much to see and dissect as I searched for something that stood out. The light wasn’t changing since I was working in the cold shade so I was able to fully engage with this intricate landscape. I have no idea how long I was there because time completely vanishes when in this zone. 5 minutes? 5 hours? It all feels the same and totally irrelevant.
Capturing a scene such as this is really quite easy from a technical standpoint, even with highly sensitive color slide film (Velvia 50). The shade is very evenly lit and there are few deep shadows and highlights to worry about. Everything was within a few stops, perhaps 1-2, and this is easily visible to the naked eye so no need to meter anything specific. Just take the average meter through the camera and over expose by about 1/2 stop due to the subject being ice. Compose, click, done. I did compose a few other scenes which were very similar but I didn’t bracket or shoot duplicates. I hardly ever do.
I continued to explore this area until the sunlight overtook much of the river and the ice began to immediately melt. The cycle of melting and freezing would continue again the next day in a different yet similar fashion. There is a beautiful contrast in the desert which is presented in a nearly infinite number of ways. The more time I spend engaging with the landscape the more ways these contrasts are revealed. Or maybe time in this landscape allows me to understand these contrasts with more clarity?
Thanks for reading, EE