Showing posts with label composition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label composition. Show all posts

Friday, November 30, 2018

In the footsteps of the Impressionists

God Beams and Manneporte, √Čtretat, France

The art that we create today stands on a foundation built by the imaginations of the artists who have come before us. No matter how original any new work of art may seem, the artist who created it was able to draw from thousands of years of experiences of other artists. Nothing truly comes from scratch.

Even though I am a nature photographer, for the past several years, I have found my inspiration in the work of Impressionist painters. Last month, I got a chance to travel to the Normandy region of France to photograph locations featured in some of my favorite paintings.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

What does the wind look like?

Sunset on High Peaks, Pinnacles National Park, California

You often hear of artists talking about their careers in terms of personal growth. Over the nearly 20 years I’ve been photographing nature, my vision has certainly grown.

In the beginning, I was satisfied with images that made nature look as pretty as possible. Today, I try to make images that are pretty but also communicate how I felt when I pressed the shutter button. And in Pinnacles National Park, California, last month, that meant I had to find a way to photograph the wind.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The story behind Shadow on Painted Hills

Shadow on Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon

With many of my favorite images, there’s more to them than immediately meets the eye. And this image of the Painted Hills in Oregon is about more than just its graphic design. In fact, its graphic design illustrates the history of the hills.

Friday, June 30, 2017

There are no correct answers in art

Willow Sprouts, Levee Pond

When I first took up photography, I read a lot. I hadn’t studied art previously, so I didn’t know about composition, lighting, design — the elements that turn a snapshot into a photograph. And the more I read, the more I was turned off.

A common refrain was that there was a “correct way” to photograph everything. It quickly became obvious why all of the animal pictures I had seen in local photo competitions looked the same and why there were so many images of flowers growing out of old wagon wheels.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Show your work: Niagara Falls

Gull in the Mist, Niagara Falls

We live in an age where virtually everyone is a published photographer. Many people now take photos every day. Most of these are quick snapshots to show off where they are, themselves or their dinner. Seconds later they’re published on social media for all the world to see.

There has never been a time when we’ve taken so many photos — and thought so little about taking them. So as someone who painstakingly crafts images, trying to produce a few that truly matter, I think it’s helpful to share the process that resulted in them. Those rare gems are usually the result of a lot of work.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

That's not art, or is it?

Beam, Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona

There’s been a lot of talk lately in nature photography circles about what constitutes art. This discussion comes up every so often, but this latest round was spawned by what seems to be an absolutely amazing accomplishment from one of our own — not that many of his fellow nature photographers want to claim him.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brainstorming on ice

Oak Leaf Impression on Ice, Snohomish County, Washington

People say one key difference between the amateurs and the professional photographers is that the professionals take a lot more pictures. That may be true, but there's another difference. The extra images are typically part of a creative exercise; they aren't random shots.

Ansel Adams once remarked that every now and then he arrived on a scene "just when God's ready for someone to click the shutter." I've had my share of images like that, but more often, I have to work at it.

For me, the process works a bit like this: Something strikes my eye, and I keep refining the composition until the image consists only of the essence of what drew me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moving to eliminate distractions


Why is it that some people feel the need to carve their name into everything? I realize the cavemen did it, but they didn't have Facebook and DrawSomething.

Whatever the reason, the work of a modern day caveman was squarely in the middle of a scene I wanted to photograph.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Making big scenes look big

There hasn't been a waterfall per se at Dry Falls in central Washington for at least 10,000 years. But when there was a falls there, it would have been spectacular: 400 feet high, 3½ miles wide and ten times as powerful as all the world's current rivers combined.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Setting limits to remove limits

We are creatures of habit. That's well documented. In stores, we buy a particular brand simply because that's the brand we always buy. Many of us regularly check our messages whether or not we're expecting anything because we've gotten into that habit.

And as photographers, we're inclined to photograph a familiar subject a particular way simply because that's the way we've always done it. It becomes habit and we probably don't even think about why we're setting up the shot that way.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Everything old can be new again


Last month, I wrote about sharing a small vantage point in Yosemite National Park with hundreds of other people, all hoping to catch one of the most photographed natural events in the park. This month, I want to talk about how to do your own thing despite that.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Been there, done that, did it again

When I show other photographers this image of the Icelandic geyser Strokkur erupting, their first question is usually, “Did you get that on your first try?”

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leave them wanting more

A great image, whether used in a magazine or a textbook or on an art collector’s wall, says something. It creates a feeling. It tells a story.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Big images from little lenses

Quick! There’s a bald eagle across the river. What lens do you use?

To make art, we need to break ourselves from the habit of always answering “the longest lens I have.”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A sunset without the sunset

The sunset last night was absolutely incredible — one of the most dramatic I've seen in a while. I had a feeling early on that it was going to be good. I noticed thin wispy clouds high in the sky early in the afternoon and made plans to be down by the water at sunset in case the sky lit up.