Cuts Both Ways

“Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.”  Dale E. Turner

I would like to welcome you back to the Earth Images Blog.  The past week or so has found me to be “absent without leave” in so far as the blogging process is concerned.  I appreciate your patronage.

No matter what we do in life we are bound to affect others. Every double-edged blade can cut from either side. Which side we choose is up to us.  It is amazing how hate will breed hate and how love breeds love.  I certainly have been responsible for giving both in my life,  but the one thing I try to be consistent about is having and sharing a passion for the things that I do.   Not just excitement over another “new phase”.   Every child can get excited over something new, only to become disillusioned or bored all too quickly.  Real passion lasts.  Much like love and hate, passion and boredom live on the same blade, one on each side.  Which side is always up to us.

Yesterday would have been the late-great Ansel Adam’s birthday.  While Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Stiechen deserve the shared credit for getting photography’s foot in the door in the world of art, Ansel made nature landscapes an acceptable art form.  The equally great and unfortunately also late Galen Rowell brought color nature photography to the art world, and current stars Frans Lanting and Art Wolfe helped the art world to see the validity of wildlife imagery in that venue.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to each of these guys.  Never forget who walked ahead of you and broke the trail.

A thank you to Landmark Bookseller for the iconic (and small) photo of Ansel on his well-known photographer’s platform, and his equally famous Woody station wagon and with what appears to be an 8×10 size view camera.  I would have loved to have been there.

The most popular type of nature photograph, is the wildlife “full body shot”.  There is good reason for that. You can see the whole animal. It is a relatively close study, but still includes a bit of the environment.  That means that there is at least a little room for a purposeful composition.  With everything from magazine covers and center spreads, to post cards, field guides and art prints, it is clear that this is the winning style among wildlife images.  Below you will find a Double-crested Cormorant and a male Red-winged Blackbird that are typical of that style.  One shows a piece of the habitat that the bird lives in, and the other has that clean and simple featureless background that works so well.

The first picture of a Snowy Owl is much like the blackbird picture above.  Or is it?  The bird is fairly similar in size (in the picture frame) as the Red-winged, but the pose retains some mystery.  The RWBB photo shows the bird stretched out in all of its glory, while we have to use our imagination a bit with the owl.  To me this is the precursor to the very close animal portrait which only shows a portion of the subject.

When we get real close to our subjects, like I was with these Moose in winter, it is time to make decisions.  I made the logical one to include as much of the closest Moose as possible, with the face being of primary concern.  I was able to get just enough of the second animal in the frame as to make sure it was not a headless critter.  Depending on the light and the animal, texture can be a bonus with close images.  With this shot the overcast light also helped to show all of the subtle nuances of color that the fur of a moose actually possesses.  That is much like making images of autumn color in soft overcast light.  I should also say that approaching moose closely is not advised.

With our next photo we get even closer to the same Snowy Owl as above. The decision here was easy as my feathered friend had its face showing and zeroing in on that face, was the clear and simple choice.

Without question the most important feature of this gull, was that face full of bread.  A more distant shot of a whole bird standing there with something in its mouth would also be effective but a picture frame filled with bread tells the story even better.  No I did not feed the bread to the bird.

As much as I love wild animals, my favorite part of making close-up photos is when I can reduce my friends to lines, shapes and textures.  I don’t look at committing this style of photography as being “my art”, but instead as revealing the natural art of my subject.  I would much rather photograph wildlife in this style, than using the “full body shot”.  Below is a Mute Swan.

I love the fact that there are so many different ways to photograph flowers.  From fields of flowers to one small curve in the rhythm of the design in a single petal.  I enjoy the semi abstract style of photographing multiple blossoms, with some in focus and some out of focus.  The ability to render some blossoms as out of focus washes of color makes this type of imagery a study of color and form.

To me there is nothing more freeing than to stand at the edge of a western landscape and observe storm clouds moving in.  Often I prefer to show only a kiss of land, and feature the sky during those circumstances.  As I looked over the scene in front of me in the Badlands of South Dakota, I decided that the scene grew weaker when I included more sky, and I did not want to lose the saturated colors of those rocks.

Thank you and may God Bless.

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3 Responses to Cuts Both Ways

  1. ron says:

    Welcome back

  2. Pingback: Abstractions | Wayne Nelson's Earth Image's Blog

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