Olympus E-M1, f/5.6 @ 1/400sec, 50mm, ISO 640, no filters
It’s been a busy spring so far with workshops in the Smoky Mountains and the Hudson Valley, and I leave to Moab, Utah tomorrow for another workshop in the southwest. My time for writing has been in short supply. But I do have a new series of articles coming up very soon addressing composition, printing, books I’m reading, and other useful information I hope inspires you in your photography.
I also want to thank those who have purchased my latest book, Insights from the Creative Path, the response has been amazing, it has sold well here and on Amazon.com, and I am extremely grateful for your support.
I made this image on my recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, and I think it’s a good example of capturing mood and mystery in a photograph. There are several elements that contribute to this including the fog, the diffuse warm colored light, and the lack of detail in the darkest shadows which also happen to be strongest compositional elements in the image – the trees. The visual goal is not to bring attention to the trees, but to use them as rhythmic elements that move the viewers eye through the image, and hopefully create a sense of curiosity, and an appreciation of the moment as I experienced it.
Direction of light is one of the key components of any image, and I always seem to gravitate to backlighting simply because it often creates drama and a sense of movement. Shadows become counterpoints to the highlights, and it’s the interplay of the two that I enjoy. Ultimately I want the viewer to ask certain questions.
What does it feel like to be in a place like this? What does it sound like? How did it make me feel? All of these can be partially answered to varying degrees with the way in which an image is captured and interpreted. The ultimate question I always ask of myself and my students is: “What is the image about?” For me the image is about the stoic-like quality of trees, and of nature in general. It’s not so much about an actual subject, but about the experience of being in a place.
Capturing that successfully is incredibly difficult because we are so eager to label an image by its subject matter or location. But that’s what I look for in the images I make, a sense of detachment from the subjects and places, and visceral connection to emotion and experience. I don’t often succeed, but the only way to even come close is by immersing myself in those things that inspire me to continue to try.
That’s where the real motivation for creative risk comes from, and it’s the only thing that will keep you inspired after you feel like you’ve exhausted the possibilities of a subject. Don’t photograph locations, instead turn the camera on yourself and see if you can show us what excites you about the world.
13 x 19 printed on Canson Rag Photographique with Epson 3880
Please share your comments and feedback – I’m always eager to learn something new from your thoughts or perspective.