“Get all that garbage out of sight, or you don’t go out Friday night!—Yakety Yak—Don’t Talk Back!”(The Coasters). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xAi80ShG0I
“There’s always some amount of crazy in the brilliance of art.” Lisa Ritchie http://www.lisaritchiemusic.com/
In dealing with photography as an art form, we strive to capture memorable photos. To do so we all know about being told to divide our space into thirds, to utilize depth of field to focus the viewer’s attention on the subject matter, and other such rules of thumb. My favorite: “Get all that garbage out of sight!” Good rules all. But even if you work through the rule book each and every time you take a photo, there is no guaranty that your image will be memorable. So what else is needed? Maybe, as my daughter Lisa says, “there’s always some amount of crazy in the brilliance of art.” I too believe that it is necessary to find whatever craziness is available to make your image both memorable to the viewer and satisfying to you.
Take for example this image by Peter Lik entitled “Phantom,” which recently sold for a record $6.5 million dollars. This is definitely crazy, but it is also brilliant art in that Peter found a means of conveying a human presence in what other photographers have always recorded as simply a beautiful shaft of sunlight. This is definitely a most memorable image
In my own landscape work, I try to capture the emotion of the essential moment. For example, in my photo of Kauai’s shoreline entitled “Storm Clouds, Po’ipu Kaua’I”, the very unique wind-driven wave action adds the force of nature to this photo as shown below:
By comparison, the same photo taken from a different perspective yet abiding by all of the usual photographic rules yields only a snapshot rendition of an otherwise exciting moment.
Did I say “all?” Too much foreground in “Spray2” overwhelms the viewer with extraneous detail. So the viewer is left with no clear focal point with which to bring a you are there feeling to the image.
Never resist the desire to move up and into the emotion of the scene, especially if moving into the scene takes you out of your comfort zone! And always take out that trash : )
So yes, rules for composition matter, but emotion (i.e., craziness) must be the driving force behind each photo. Develop your own personal photographic emotional agenda. Otherwise your photos will just be drifters in the Sea of Whatever.
“Like a restless wind I keep moving on
And I can’t seem to stay in one place too long”
- Road House lyrics to “Road Man”-
Driving, kayaking, hiking – whatever it takes to find interesting and appealing photoimages to share – has now become my way of life. During the past year I have crossed the U.S. and Canada several times, including such destinations as Ketchikan, Alaska, Key West, Florida and Stornoway, Scotland. And I keep moving on.
On traveling: I drive a Toyota 4-Runner with a top-mounted tent. This gives me the ability to travel wherever my desires may lead me. I bring along a small cabinet with food and utensils, camp stove, lots of water, and sleeping gear.
Surprisingly, many of my camping spots while I’m on the road are truck stops. Sometimes they can also give rise to some eye-opening storm photos as this picture (taken in North Dakota) readily shows! However, given the constant diesel engine noise, earplugs are essential!
On photography: My focus is mostly (not solely) on landscapes. I use Nikons (D90 and D800) exclusively. My primary lenses are a Nikkor DX 18-200 mm; and the fantastic Nikkor 14-24 mm lens. I use a Giottos tripod (MT9251) with a Acratech ball head-a perfect combination for my type of work. Post-processing software primarily includes Photoshop CS6 and the Nik Software suite. And I’m also not opposed to modifying the original image so as to bring out a more “graphic” image, as for example, the photo here of the Grand Tetons. What counts is that the final image is interesting and pleasing to both the artist and the viewer. That is always my goal.
Why have a blog? My website is primarily for sharing my travel experiences and photographic knowledge. Selling my photos also validates their value, which is important to any artist. So this blog gives you the opportunity to get to know me and to send me your comments. I encourage you to let me know what you like and what you don’t like on my website. And I welcome any questions you may have such as “how did you do that?” I look forward to hearing from you all. And I look forward to keeping you all informed about my travels and photographic methods.