I thought it was time for a short article about a few simple thoughts on general nature photography. It is still the simple things that matter the most.
Variations On a Theme
I think every wise photographer, especially when we are creating landscapes, should make as many subtle variations on a theme, or better said a scene, as possible. Even when you are planted in one small area for some reason, little differences matter.
These two shots are obviously shot at the same location, within a few moments. They were made no more than 100 feet apart from each other.
I prefer the first image with the distant mountain facing into the greater space of the left side of the picture. The Agave plant helps fill some of the negative space and makes this an interesting shot. The second photo is okay too, but the mountain seems a little less comfortable on the left side. I think the foreground rock works well, but is of less interest than the plant.
I learned a long time ago, that one small variation in composition could be the difference from getting published now, or waiting for the next time.
Warm & Cold
I have written dozens of times about the play of warm (advancing) colors and cool (receding) colors. I normally use the warm colors of autumn and cool blue skies for my example. The great thing about the red rocks of the American west is that they make a great substitute for a Midwestern photographer who wants an example other than fall leaves.
This photo was made in Dinosaur National Monument on the Colorado (rather than Utah) side of the park. Choices need to be made and while that blue sky is pretty, it’s mostly blank and can get boring. I made the obvious decision to feature the much more interesting layers of rock. The sky is a nice negative space counter balance to the rock. I wanted to show the sediments of rock and how they build as you travel up. Of course I wanted to do so in a way that was pretty, not just journalistic.
This composition also shows the viewer the natural habitat of the canyon. If this was one lone rock form in an otherwise flat grand prairie, I would likely have placed the rock very low in my comp. and featured that blank blue sky. That would have imparted to future viewers the immense open feeling of the land. The landscape was in reality that of medium-sized mountain rock forms. Rocks, rocks, everywhere. I wanted viewers to realize this location is about rock forms.
Up close and personal images of wild animals have always been, and always will be popular. The subjects begin to feel like they are our personal acquaintances. We are a part of their world.
The advent of digital photography and the ability to crop, took this into the realm of an art form. With today’s mega-mega pixel cameras, eyeball shots are common. They make powerful pictures, but hopefully imagery that allows for a view of at least some of the body, will not go out of style.
Just like when photographing people, the pose and the expression are important. We don’t give directions to critters that are wild and free, so patience is paramount.
Rough-legged Hawk, Wisconsin. Even though the wings are not entirely visible, the fact that they are spread help make this picture. The downhill composition and the piercing stare help to finish the picture.
North American Badger, Colorado. Badgers have a nasty reputation, and although I had a bad badger encounter in Minnesota many years previous, the creature photographed in a remote area of Colorado was almost pleasant. That showed in its expression.
Brown phase Screech Owl, Wisconsin. If the hawk in the first picture was intense as it watched for a pheasant that was hiding under the snow, and the badger was in a docile mood, this owl just wanted to snooze. Anytime it opened its eyes just a sliver, I went click, click, click. This shot perfectly displayed the mood of the moment.
Pose, Pose, Pose
Of course being on the scene when a great pose takes place, is a gift. These two Great-horned Owlets, were looking at something, and pose, pose, pose became click, click, click. My memory fails, but I can only hope the owls are not watching a foolish photographer obnoxiously attracting their attention. It’s happened so many times that I can no longer remember under which circumstances my pictures were made.
The art of wildlife photography is recognizing that the subjects are the true artists.
Exit stage straight ahead. Much like the Bighorn Sheep in this picture, I will leave the scene.
I appreciate your patronage, Wayne