The Human Touch

There is something of man, in each of today’s images. My Hand of Man post several years ago was I believe, the last time that there were no pure nature photos in an Earth Images post.

The Alsolfsskallakikja Church in Iceland by Daniel Schwabe. Black and white is a great choice for this picture. Daniel clearly has a flair for that medium.1Ásolfsskálakikja Church in Moldnúpur I b&w Daniel Schwabe

British Columbia Canada by Fatma Zehra Korkmaz. It is difficult not to want to be there.2BC Canada Fatma Zehra Korkmaz

I love the light on this scene by Keith Cuddeback. I also enjoy the way those tire tracks lead us right into the farm. I believe this is in California.3Horse-and-Barn, CA Keith Cuddeback

Surfer’s Paradise, Australia by Darren Song Ng. Great composition. Once again some tire tracks play a role in our journey into this scene.4Sunset-by-Surfers-Paradise-Beach Darren Song Ng

Follow the brick path. Europe I would guess. Donyaye Delpazir is the photographer.5Donyaye Delpazir

Another one of those great western scenes. This is from Idaho and the photographer is David Palmer.6Salmon Cabin Eastern Idaho by David Palmer

Palais du Louvre in Paris, by Kamal Bennani. The hint of gold left in the nighttime sky, adds much to this picture.7Kamal Bennani Palais du Louvre, Paris

An Italian farm scene by Sergio Lazzerini. I really like that the farmer and tractor are understated here. A photographer might be tempted to telephoto the tractor, and underemphasize the patterns and tones of the fields8Tempo-di-semina, Italy, Sergio LazzeriniA very different and surreal black and white treatment here than with our first image. The location is London, the image is courtesy of photoss.net. The title of the photo is the All Seeing Eye. 9The All-Seeing Eye. London photoss.net

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While this picture (mine) is surely less spectacular than any of today’s previous images, it fit’s the attitude of the Keith Cuddeback and David Palmer shots. It is in effect, Americana. Rustic buildings in a photo that otherwise would be a naturescape. My image is less of a grand landscape and is a bit more intimate. The opposing moods of the beautiful, warm colored rock formation, and the dark wooden shack, with the addition of the blue sky, offer us a range of contrasts to enjoy. Every image tells a story, as a photographer you just have to see it, bring the dynamics to a place where it all works, and share it.bbend0077bbb

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When I made the decision (around 1985) that nature photography would be my photographic mainstay from then on, it opened up a very big world to me and my camera. I mean, you can only make it to so many car races or other sporting events. I continued to photograph lots of old buildings but even that is a very finite subject. There was always another tree, or flower, or butterfly, or bird, or landscape or sunrise for me to chase. Still, in the beginning I was not making as many powerful images as I would have liked. I was often going to the wrong places in autumn. There was fall color, but not the best. I got to those wonderful patches of flowers, when they were not blooming. I looked for birds in all the wrong places at all of the wrong times of year.

Time marches on and we all gain experience. Eventually I became the photographer that others came to for knowledge and advice. I knew where and when the Pink, Yellow or White Lady Slipper blossoms were blooming. I knew the best corners of the forest for autumn (and spring) color. I knew where to find endangered species of butterflies, birds, frogs and plants. I also knew the best locations for sunrises and sunsets, or spring landscapes. I knew many of the best locations to get those dew covered grasses, either up close, or abstracted with backlighting at a distance.  I knew where every little waterfall was located.

Something’s lost when something’s gained. All of those facts made me a more productive nature photographer. A more popular one too. One day I realized that while my knowledge helped me to fill my stock or art files, it also killed the little boy inside. The adventurer. The explorer. When I came to that realization, I began to change how I pursued pictures. I went to those places that were productive, but I always left time to simply wander and look. Even on my trips out west, I left time on the return trip to explore every back road I could stumble upon. Sometimes this philosophy has brought me great pictures, more often it simply brought me great times. Great memories. Riding through an Indian Reservation listening to the reservation radio station (am) as they took song requests. I spotted my first Golden Eagle in many years that way. I also stopped at the reservation store and found the most delicious, greasy, deep-fried breakfast tacos imaginable. This was before native lands meant glitzy casinos with “has been” Las Vegas performers on the marquee. I discovered a small road in northwestern Wisconsin with a series of small water filled potholes alongside the road. The shallow waterways were perfect for shorebirds. The road was so un-traveled that I spent 30 minutes sitting in the middle of it with the engine shut off. Did I see any shorebirds? Well yes I saw a couple of distant ones but it didn’t really matter. My imagination already had me back again next year at the perfect time. Making thousands of pictures of shorebirds. I actually never made it back again, but that’s okay. The experience of that day will live on forever.

When I first began to feature nature as a subject, I would stop at every roadside flower I saw. On dirt back roads and on major super highways alike. I didn’t know one flower from another ( I barely do now) but every foot I traveled down those roads, was held in wonder of what I would find next. Every thistle or clover flower was a rare treasure to me.

I’m not suggesting that anybody invert back to the days before knowledge and wisdom took over. Only that you need to keep the child alive inside of you. If you do, and this is a promise, photography will never get old.

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Since I bought my first serious camera in 1971, I have been hearing from amateur photographers and non-photographers, “that’s a great picture, you must have a really good camera“. During that same time, I’ve also heard from serious photographers, that “equipment doesn’t really matter“. They’re both wrong. Great equipment doesn’t mean great pictures, but if your equipment is well behind the times, you are irrelevant. Every day I see the bar rise. The most mundane of photographers, with great equipment and some knowledge of how to use it, are producing images that I (and you) find breathtaking. All of that amazing resolution. A crispness never before imagined. A feast for the eyes, even with images from the most ordinary of photographers. It is true, that when I am given a moment to truly absorb what’s in front of me, that the greatest images from the greatest photographers will still win out. Regardless of when they were made. The problem is that we live in a world where most people will give an image 30 seconds at most. Even less time for serious thought and contemplation. MAYBE, a photo editor from a publication will spend some time with an image, and likely someone seriously considering a photo in a gallery to hang on their wall, will give an image some time, but for viewing and enjoyment on the internet? Not likely. We live in a world where serious life and death news stories are rarely important for more than a day.

I feel truly sorry for today’s new image makers. In the past, it took a lot of money to acquire the equipment needed to be a serious photographer, but once that was realized, you were then set for a long while. Today a few months is enough to put you behind.  It is true that film improvements were  ongoing, but you used up old film, and needed to buy new anyway.

There remain photographers out there selling the story of “equipment doesn’t matter”, and it is generally those who have the latest, biggest and best equipment who say that, or those who have fallen hopelessly behind and are delusional, and kidding themselves. Always be honest with yourself.

With every equipment revolution, eventually the great photographers/true artists will rise to the top. Eventually.

Keep your day job until you’re making a living at photography. If you can’t afford the biggest and best, then just enjoy the art of making personal statements with the camera you do have, and let the rest of the world worry about how many “likes” or views they get on social media. Build your own niche audience, apart from the masses. Update your equipment when you can, but keep doing your thing, your way, in the meantime.

Photography is a great hobby/love and can be a fascinating business, but it is better enjoyed when you are not in the center (emotionally) of the latest equipment revolution. Above all, take up whatever equipment you have, and make some pictures. Make the experience personal.

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Savor the moment.

No matter how long we live, life is still a series of moments. For the 10-year-old, those moments are few, for the 90-year-old, considerably more.

If there is any bit of wisdom that I have garnered from my own life (many would say there is not), it is to savor and enjoy the moment. I have missed the significance of the moment, very few times. Oh I don’t jump up and down and get giddy, but the importance of any (and every?) moment has never escaped me. Places change, people come and go. Sooner or later, all of those moments will have added up to a lifetime. It’s up to us to live a long life, whether the actual years, be long or short..

Savor the moment.

God Bless,                                                                                                                     Wayne

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