There are many ways to make a powerful image, or at least to make an image powerful. Power can mean an African Lioness bringing down a Gemsbok with sand flying through the air, but a carefully thought out mix of landscape, wildlife, color and mood can be just as powerful.
I have always loved this Yellowstone picture of an elk cow and her calf. I like the poses they struck and I love the quality of the grasses and the tiny bit of snow those grasses are topped with. I think pictures like this are so important. You’ll never get rich or famous with a simple and naturally artistic image like this, but nature photography needs them just as much as they need those spectacular once in a lifetime shots that are becoming rather common.A colorful macro of the crisp details of an autumn leaf can catch your attention, but so can a carefully placed focus in an otherwise confusing scene of several autumn leaves.
Point of focus and use of depth of field, become ever so important when you are working with macros. A fraction of an inch in any direction, and I believe this picture fails. It took f11 at this magnification to hold sharp the section of the image that I wanted sharp. I used my 105 Nikon Micro lens.
I love photographing small mammals and I have had success with my images of animals like the Alpine Pika and other little critters that are either spectacular or rare. It does pay to remember that images of our more common small mammals can evoke a sense of “knowing” and affection because we lovingly observe them in our backyards on a daily basis. They are not to be ignored.
After watching this Eastern Chipmunk steal bird seed for about an hour I finally decided it deserved to be memorialized with a picture. I used my 500mm lens but added a flash to open the image up more around the face.
I have seen some superb images of America’s western tall grass prairies with a “big sky” and storm clouds. Everything that’s big is also small. Macros of grasses can be as telling (and powerful) as any grand landscape that holds a million of blades of grass.
I’ve well noted in past articles my love for the drama of shadows in pictures. Well placed shadows can not only add drama and power to a landscape image, but they can add depth as well. Just because I believe that shadows make some pictures better, doesn’t mean I think they make all pictures better. It is possible for bird and other wildlife pictures to be “powerful” with a well placed shadow. Maybe the shadow adds a little mystery to the picture. That is what one shadow can do. A series of shadows creating splotchy light across a bird is another thing. When is it okay to have high contrasts in a bird photo?
This Blue Jay was striking a series of excellent poses. It seemed as if it knew I was making pictures. More ham than bird. Is this photo a throw away because of all those splotchy shadows? Does the poses the Jay was giving me make the light worthwhile? I think the picture is acceptable (although not great) because there is plenty of details in the shadows. In other words despite a series of shadows the image really isn’t of high contrast. Decisions, decisions. Is the power of the pose more important than the shadows?
There may be power in your subjects, but there is power in your artistic vision as well. Use it wisely. Wayne