Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
I just returned from a great weekend of hiking and photographing El Pital Mountain in El Salvador. After a short photo excursion up to the top of the mountain, I got to thinking about the conceptual and technical “process” of good photography. Photography that goes above and beyond the simple “snap shot” approach.
There are unique and interesting photographs to be captured with your camera where ever you might find yourself. You don’t need to travel off to distant and exotic places to make great photographs, although it’s always exciting to go on travel adventures.
With just a little bit of technical “know how” and some basic knowledge of composition and camera operation anyone can take pictures that go above and beyond “snap-shot” mode. Pictures that truly impact and hold the interest of those who view them.
I love traveling because when I’m in a new environment my eye is fresh and alert for potential subjects for photographs. I am more sensitive to my environment when I am in a new place. I see potential photographs everywhere I look.
A simple waterfall, landscape, flower or hiking path can be brought to life by taking a few brief moments to THINK about HOW you want to translate that subject of scene. Ask yourself…”what is my subject” and then go about composing it in the most creative way possible based on your personal vision “style” as an image maker.
Shooting in manual mode gives you the photographer more control over the image making process instead of handing creative control over to the automatic mode of the camera. Shooting in manual mode takes a few extra seconds for those photographers used to shooting in auto or program, however it is really the only way to take your photography to the next creative level.
Shallow depth of field in a flower photograph will direct the viewers eye to the main subject of your composition creating a powerful focal point enhancing the visual impact of your image. Getting close to your subjects is also an important ingredient for enhancing the visual impact of your pictures.
A long shutter speed and small f/stop can transform a snapshot of a waterfall into an artistic rendition of flowing water. Framing elements in the foreground of your landscapes also adds to the illusion of depth in the picture and adds to the visual interest of the scene.
These are very simple things that will transform a bland, static, boring photographs into pictures that will elicit a positive response from your viewers. Think about photographing from different vantage points other than eye level. Get low and shoot up and/or find something to stand on and shoot from a high angel of view – push yourself to explore different ways and angles to photographically translate your subjects.
It’s also important to “be in the moment” when making photographs. Train yourself to be hyper-sensitive to your surroundings, especially the quality of the light, the various textures, lines and shapes in your subjects no matter where you are.
You can make great photographs whether you are at an exotic location or in your backyard. I think Ansel Adams said it best and most succinctly.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
― Ansel Adams