2016: A Year in Review
Expanse – March 2016
Now that 2017 is underway, I thought I should take a moment to share some thoughts about the previous year. In years past, I’ve done a “Top 10” post with images from the year. This year has been a bit different though with a change of formats (digital to film). Early in 2016, I was sending off film immediately after shooting the roll to ensure I was actually exposing the images properly. Once I was comfortable with my camera, I began to take a different approach to shooting and processing.
In 2015, I took over 30,000 photos on my DSLR. In 2016, I made roughly 650 images on film. This drastic difference in quantity is a direct result of my new approach to photography and something I’ve had to learn over the past year. With social media and digital photography, it’s all too easy to shoot, edit, share in the same day (hour!). Much of my work is landscape based and it may seem obvious but the bottom line is I was there and the viewer of the image was not. It is all too easy as a photographer to let my recent or immediate experience take too much weight in selecting my best work, aka keepers.
Watercolor Skies – March 2016
This is an important point I try to keep in mind when shooting and looking for images. I often ask myself if the viewer will be able to see what I’m seeing without actually being here? One distinction with this is that I’m not trying to share my experience of being in a place. I’ve mentioned it before but I don’t believe a camera is the way for me to accomplish this, if that was in fact my goal. If I include my experience in the image though, it may still be communicated visually while allowing the viewer their own interpretation of the image.
This all sounds good to me in theory, but does it actually work? I have not seen many of the images I made this year yet. By allowing time to pass, much of my immediate memory of the experience has worn off and yet the image remains the same. Looking at the image after time has passed will hopefully allow my initial excitement to wear off and not influence my selections of images to share. Shooting on film forces this process to slow down more so than with digital but it can be applied to digital photography as well. Give it a try with your own images. Look back on images you shot 6 months ago, or a year ago, and see if they still communicate your intentions as they did the day you took the photo.
Space & Time – March 2016
Another point along the lines of being more selective of images happens while out in the field shooting. Its a process I call “editing with your eyes” and can drastically cut down on post processing time along with yielding better images. This is a challenging method to learn and is something I’m continuing to learn on a daily basis. You hear it all the time that you’re supposed to adjust your perspective, move around, explore the different angles, observe the changes in light, etc. You can do all of this without taking a photo though. Hold your camera to your eye as you look around and evaluate a scene. Pause to examine the corners, the edges, the negative space and the subject within the frame. Does it feel right? If not, why? Maybe lowering your perspective will remove more foreground and give your subject more prominence or a slight shift to the left will clean up a corner of the image. You don’t need to click the shutter to do any of this. I’ll elaborate on this concept further in a separate blog post with some sample images.
Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing many images that were shot on film with consideration of my newly learned approach to landscape photography. All images here were made with a DSLR in 2016. Something to keep in mind that may or may not be obvious in these images is that none of these show what the place looked like in person. My only hope is that they show something beyond what it looked like.
Thanks for reading,
Everything the Light Touches – March 2016