Seeing The Unseen

Every place is beautiful at the right time. I’ll bet precious few of the thousands of people who pass this little island that resides in the middle of an auto loop, ever look at it twice.  These Blazing Star flowers bloom all over this Illinois state park, and I am sure that from time to time, a car making the loop looks out at these specific blossoms and think to themselves, aren’t they pretty.  How many see a beautiful scene here?  You and I do.  It’s our job and our passion to see the beauty where others miss it.

I think anyone who walks the hiking trail past this Lupine meadow will see the beauty.  In fact I have seen many photographers making pictures here of individual blossoms.  In fact two and even three blossoms. I have not yet seen a photographer explore the possibilities of a bigger picture.  This old film shot was made a long time ago, but I am glad I looked at the “whole picture”. Part of this job that we all love, is finding those little details, and then realizing the whole scene in front of us.  That works equally well in reverse.

Shiprock provokes some interesting thoughts when you first see it.  This northern New Mexico landmark is within eyesight of breathtaking snow-capped peaks to the north. There are other rock forms just a few miles away.  Seventy five miles (or so) from here, are some of the worlds most spectacular rock forms. What is special about Shiprock?  It was a navigational landmark for Native Americans and then European settlers.  It was used later by cowboys herding cattle northward. Many photographers have stopped at Shiprock. Except for a few John Shaw (I think) silhouettes I have seen very few good photos of this place, and have heard nothing but complaints, which echoed the disappointments of photographers who thought Shiprock was too ordinary to waste time on. Ron and I had seen enough beauty here the night before this image was made, to at least stop and give it try.  The light was running out and not very good. We were also on the wrong side of that light.  The decision was made to stop within the Navajo reservation and get some food and a nights sleep.  In the morning we would pass Shiprock on the way to Monument Valley.  This is what we found. Sometimes photographers only find disappointment even in famous landmarks. It is our job to stop by one last time just to see if nature or our own vision doesn’t provide the stuff that nice images are made of.

Bond Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is a wonderful place that landscape photographers have been frequenting for many years.  I myself have been going there since the mid 1980s.  It is easy to get caught up in the beauty and power of the cascading falls.  This is especially true when the falls are surrounded by autumn color.  The fall season is about warm rich colors no matter where you find them. Our job is to find those little nuances of autumn color, that maybe don’t define fall, but enrich it.  These two shots of fall colors reflecting in the waters of Bond, were made about thirty feet and a few minutes apart.  While I was looking for compositions, at least five photographers walked right by these reflections.  One viewed me suspiciously, as if I had just escaped from the weird photographers farm.

We can’t really see the unseen.  We can however, recognize a photograph. It’s why most people take pictures, but we are the photographers.

A few posts back I was writing about the value of photographing Bracken and Cinnamon Ferns in autumn.  I illustrated it with a photo.  The only problem is that the photo is of either a Larch or Tamarack branch.  That allows me to suggest that those are great fall subjects also. They are coniferous “type” trees except, they are really deciduous.  Their foliage turns a burnt color and they shed their needles all at once. Sorry bout that.

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