Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some of life's little lessons

"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
                                                                                    –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've come to a quiet place in my new career. I left the newspaper industry in July to spread my wings as a freelance photographer. I was fortunate to have several assignments and plans in the ensuing weeks. I've shot a few weddings, worked with a team of school photographers, done a few head shots a few advertising shots and now... life has gotten quiet.

Time to take a look at some of the images I've taken to see how they can be improved and select some favorites for a new portfolio.  I've been fortunate to have learned some new techniques for enhancing existing photos.  Like making panoramas....

and making already dramatic skies pop.....
This world is filled with great teachers who are willing to share their expertise. I've learned so much from joining camera clubs (DRPPHVPPSNY) where guest speakers like Joe Brady share their amazing expertise. And I've had the pleasure of taking photo workshops with geniuses like Joe McNally, Moose Peterson and Robert Rodriguez Jr. all of whom are eager to share their knowledge and help watch a fellow photographer grow.  All of those I've mentioned, and many others, provide tons of great information on their websites, blogs and in books they have written.

We are so blessed to live in a spectacularly beautiful world and be given the talent and education on how to try and capture the emotion we feel when we witness a beautiful landscape. So, it is a joy to share some of that and try to encourage others to get out there and try and capture a moving image. As Robert Rodriguez said to us in Acadia, "Do not say 'this is how the landscape looks', but rather 'this is how I represent and interpret the landscape I encounter.'"

I hope I am making moving representations.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Always Important To Remain Teachable

Share your knowledge. 
It is a way to achieve immortality.
                         Dalai Lama

"Less is more"
                       Originally by poet, Robert Browning; 
                       more currently by photographer Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

I am still reeling from a five day landscape photography workshop led by one of my favorite photographers, Robert Rodriguez, Jr. I’ve yearned to capture just one image as spectacular as his ever since I saw him speak at my camera club two years ago. His images just speak to me…they make me feel all kinds of emotions and totally captivate me.

So, when I saw that he was leading a workshop in the Fall at Acadia National Park, a place very high on my list of places to visit, I immediately signed up.  The workshop met all of my expectations and more. The only down side is that I am currently very dissatisfied with my own photos. The images I used to show proudly suddenly seem cluttered and “not good enough.”  I hope this is a good thing. It must be because I am still happy to be plowing through them and thrilled that I have learned new techniques to enhance them. Perhaps I just need some time to distance myself from them. 

One of the first things he taught us, and he was a wonderful teacher, willing to share all of his magical insight, was that we should look at our scene and determine “if I have to capture this image, what would I caption it?” Well, that’s one of my biggest problems right there. I want to call all of my photos, “pretty scene.” But that doesn’t tell the story or help you recognize the subject. So, that is something I need to continue to work at.

He stresses that quality light is the key – you can have an amazing subject, but without magic light and good composition, your image simply will not work.  Suddenly many of my images are not working.  They are still moving images, I believe, and I will share some here now. I have certainly been fortunate to receive a lot of positive feedback from my pictures in the past. And my mother and friends remind me today that I have a style all my own.  But I’m just not as pleased with the light and composition in many of my images as I would like to be. 

I had a lot of fun waking up with the group and racing to see the sun rise at different, magnificent sites that Rodriguez selected for us. If nothing else, just being up watching the light was exhilarating. His enthusiasm for nature’s beauty was absolutely contagious. He was eager for his students to see as he sees and I am getting it – I am beginning to realize that there is an innate beauty in simplicity. “What does not add, detracts.” 

Then why are my images so filled with clutter? And why do I capture "everything" and am having so much trouble simplifying? I believe I am just beginning this journey of actually "seeing the light" and improving myself, perhaps not only as a photographer, but maybe as an intuitive human being as well.