Following up on my last post about editing and the fine line that separates a good image from a great image, I thought it would be helpful to share some of my own experiences with a recent “self-assignment”. By this I mean my own personal project, which I highly recommend as a learning tool (I often have several projects going on at the same time).
I was recently asked by the Mohonk Preserve here in New York if I would be able to donate another print for their annual fundraiser held in June. This area, also know as the Shawangunks, has been designated by The Nature Conservancy as one of the “75 Last Great Places on Earth”, and certainly one of my favorite locations for photography, mountain biking, and hiking. I’ve been visiting since 1996, and never get tired of exploring its varied terrain and hiking trails. Needless to say, just as I did last year, I agreed to donate canvas print.
Though I have many images of Mohonk to choose from, I decided I would try to capture something new for the auction, and hence the self-assignment was born. Given the size of the location, and the small amount of time I have to work with, I narrowed it down to a specific composition. You might be wondering why would I limit myself this way. Well, in addition to the reasons I mentioned above, I think it actually helps me in several ways. First, by narrowing my focus, I can really fine-tune my efforts without the distractions of another location or scene. Second, it gives me a better chance of getting “lucky” with regards to weather and timing since I’ve eliminated many variables, and left only those that can have the potential to produce the photograph I’m after.
So far I have a made a few attempts, and the image above is the closest representation to what I originally had in mind. It shows not only the expansive ridge in the background, but what I think are the defining features of the Shawangunks, pitch pines atop the beautiful conglomerate rock with its eroded jagged cliffs and small narrow canyons. It also moves the eye from foreground to background in several ways,adding depth and interest for the viewer. While I’m very happy with this image, there is still something missing for me, and that is the quality of light. Finding that light is so difficult, but when it happens, it can add that magic touch to an image that brings the emotion to the forefront like no other aspect of a landscape can. It can transform an image that is perhaps 99% done to 1000%, and that’s where the patience and perseverance comes into the equation.
Will I manage to find that last 1% in time for the auction, or ever? I don’t know, and it is a risky and potentially frustrating proposition, but I’ll give it my best effort and keep you updated in the weeks to come. I’ve been visiting as often as possible, and my son has also joined me to help with his own “meditation.” Stay tuned…