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Even when I’m not shooting nature and landscapes, I’m always studying light, looking for interesting shapes and patterns, and just trying to train my eye to see things that on first glance might not be so apparent. This is an exercise I always encourage students to practice on a daily basis, and I highly recommend you do the same. In fact, this is something you can do anywhere at anytime, and it will pay dividends when you are out in the field shooting nature, or whatever you’re passionate about. Seeing light, patterns, and shapes is not exclusive to nature, and the benefits of practicing with everyday objects in your  home, out in your back yard, or just wandering around town is worth the time and effort.

This image happens to be inside one of the old historical farms that are still preserved in Smoky Mountain National Park. I was attracted to the repetition of circles and curves, and of course the dramatic light that accentuated all of the different textures. I knew it would be black and white before I shot it, it just seemed like it would make a stronger composition that way.

This image may never become a part of my “landscape” portfolio, but it is valuable nonetheless as I continue to refine my vision. Don’t let your judgements or bias limit how you develop your craft, regardless of the particular subject matter you prefer. I always say you need to have an emotional connection to your subject matter to make a great image, but that assumes your composition, visual design, framing, and technical proficiency are up to the task. That’s what making images like this are all about, not to mention it may spark a creative direction that provides new motivation you. Practice, practice, practice, then find your passion and apply your experience and knowledge.

Grotto Falls, Smoky Mtns
Grotto Falls, Smoky Mtns

Questions or feedback? Please let me know – we all learn in the process.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Photography found me in January 2012. And since then I followed quickly in the foot steps of Trey Ratcliff — Mr. HDR 🙂

    And what I have come to notice about my photographic process is that I was cheating. Allowing my inexperience as a photographer to be masked by the HDR process. So I would normally go painterly.

    But after speaking with Don Gregorio Anton and you — I have come to realize that I was copying Trey Ratcliff and not learning and not following my own path.

    Essentially not practicing what I am really drawn to — landscape photography 🙂

    1. Ramon, I’m glad you were able to find the path you need to take for your own work, and your “cheating” is a common and sometimes necessary process that many artists must go through in order to find what really matters to them, myself included. It’s difficult to commit to your own voice, scary and often intimidating. But it’s the only choice anyone has if they want to actually draw something meaningful from their work into their lives. This keeps the creative fire burning, and without that photography can quickly become a cold and sterile act that loses it’s appeal.

      You’re on the right path, just keep exploring and remember that the side view is just as good as the forward view. In other words, the journey is often more important than the destination.


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