myr·i·ad [mree əd] adj
1. too numerous to count: so many that they cannot be counted 2. very diverse: made up of many different components
The article below is based on my observations, and my opinions.
It is fair to say, that there is a myriad of types of subjects for photographers to photograph, and of photographers to make those pictures. Today I am primarily speaking of outdoor/nature photographers, with an emphasis slightly towards nature.
Amidst all of those varying photographers, with all of those varying interests, I have found two primary species of nature/outdoor photographer. Those who are subject first, and those who are image first. I am a bit of both, and while my subspecies might create the most interesting total body of work, the purebreds create many of the most power individual images.
I consider myself to be one of those hybrids but I admit I am most comfortable sharing reality and in a natural way. To me a natural way means I don’t have to spend a lot if time editing. I have dramatically altered images via software, but for me (only me), it masks the subject that I was drawn to in the first place. So I guess I surely don’t like abstracts right? I love abstracts. I have shown dozens of abstracts on this blog. Some are so abstract that they are only washes of light or color or they are only a shape. With a couple of exceptions each and every one of those images is a true depiction of the natural world. Seeing light and recognizing how it affects the land or the water or the trees, and then knowing how to create the image that depicts that, is to me the ultimate blending of a love of subject, and a personal statement. Of course you not only have to see the possibility, you have to be willing to click the shutter and make the picture.
I have at times taken pictures of nature and created software altered images from them. Mostly I do that for fun. Making the image below was a little like picking out wallpaper for your home. I went through a series of provided filters and picked the one I liked. I have a fondness for this image but my contribution is in the photography and composition of the butterfly, flower and background that lives beneath the texture on the image you see. I could have used that same filter and made this image a lot more personal and a lot more creative by choosing selected areas such as only the butterfly or the flower or the background to alter, while leaving the rest as shot.
This dewy web is a natural shot with a little help from me. Step one is to get out of bed in the darkness and travel to a nice low-lying (potential dew) area where you have seen spider webs, and wait for daylight. Step two is to look for dewy webs. Next you look for webs with some dark and shadowy areas in back of it. Then you select a lens that will place darkness and only darkness in back of the subject. Then take your exposure from the brightest bit of web so to underexpose the picture, and there you are. You might also want to add some contrast (I did) at home in an effort to keep that background black, and the web bright. Simple enough.
If you’re even more of a purist than I, you can take the perfect scenario as described above, and make the picture below by leaving it as is. You will see bits of greenery showing in the background. I used all of the techniques that I used with the web, except I added no contrast. Greek Valerian and rain.
Then of course there’s nothing like point and shoot. Well maybe I did a little more than that. I moved the car four times to get in position. I changed lenses (300mm-500mm) once and changed my exposure once. I framed and reframed the deer and waited for a nice moment. I managed not to frighten her away. I guess this was a point three or four times and shoot several times picture. I did not however, have anything to do with getting the deer in the water. I promise.
With the subject below nature provided the light for me, and I just decided what I would do with it. My job was to watch the light as it disappeared, and find an interesting phenomenon. Compose the light (and shadows), and find the exposure that would capture the moment. Contrast was added in the first image (interpretation) but I was pretty much just using my photographic experience to share nature’s glory. These images were made at sunset at White Sands New Mexico. It’s not always about getting up. Sometimes it’s about staying out.
My exposure in the first image was taken from the brightest part of the image. I have shown the next image before, calling it “Kissing The Sand”, but at this point any tech information would be a guess. This is a very unique photo. It was the last picture of a long and wonderful day.
As a “semi” literalist photographer, I always try to take credit for at least my composition with wildlife pictures. I will admit that this colorful male Baltimore Oriole, dipped his head without my asking, but I did make the decision to place him left of center in the picture frame.
Most critics would say that this is a nice, pretty picture. Good job but it’s not art. Personally I would agree with that but I think my question back at them would be, what’s your point? Who cares? There are others who will swear that this is indeed art. I might not agree but I will accept that opinion……as long as they realize that the bird is the artist. What is it to me? It is a clean and sharp image of an active, and constantly moving songbird. It shows what I would hope would be the looks and at least a hint at the personality of a Baltimore Oriole. Not a single photographer in the world creates art every time they shoot, and that shouldn’t deter any of us from using the medium of photography. I love making pictures like this.
If all photographers, nature or otherwise were exactly alike, the colorful and enlightening journey that I take once a day through websites that post images, would become boring quite quickly. I would not like that. I love the variety. I also love seeing variety within the work of a single photographer. There should never come a time when a photographer stops looking at the world in new ways. You might say a myriad of ways. No matter where the world of camera equipment and digital software goes, or how much those things try to make us all the same, there will always be enough independent thinkers to share a world full of color (or B&W), shape and varied subjects, so that it will never get boring
What’s the one subject that you never hear any top photographer talk about? In fact what’s the one thing that you rarely hear an excellent amateur talk about? In fact what do you rarely hear me talk about? Sharpening. Especially when it comes to wildlife. Almost every wildlife image that you have ever seen that you think is really good, has been sharpened. I know photographers who sharpen their landscape photos. Like every photographer, I sharpen most of my wildlife work. Keep in mind that “in camera sharpening” is sharpening too. I try to sharpen as little as possible because my software is behind the times. Sometimes I go too far and you can see it. It seems the one thing every photographer in the world has in common, is we all want the viewer to believe we can make sharp images without any help.
Creating photographs it turns out, is much like life itself, if you take care of the details, one by one, the big picture will be beautiful.
Get out today and make some big pictures. Wish I could be with you.
Have a great day and God Bless, Wayne