Tools

When I look at the landscape photos that I see on the internet and in magazines today, I see compositions that often employ those compositional tools that I write about in this blog. They are excellent tools, but I am seeing those concepts followed so closely, that I think a lot of image makers are creating their compositions to please other photographers. The idea of a beginning, a middle, and an end, works very well, but it’s not the only way to compose a landscape. Leading lines, framing and other time-honored tools for composing pictures, should never be abandoned, but they need not be used in every image made. The first four images below are from in order, Monument Valley Utah/Arizona, Big Bend N. P., Texas, the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone, N.P., Wyoming and The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. They all contain elements of one compositional tool or another. I don’t doubt that whatever success they have had, is at least partly due to using those tools, which were borrowed by photographers from landscape painters shortly after the advent of photography.1I 5dsc_0089 Copyc of DSC_0181And2more UtMiTenn 012 The next two images are from Valley of The Gods State park in Utah, and the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado. They have been popular despite there simplistic, and somewhat primitive compositional style.  Tourists have been composing images this way since the first point and shoot camera was developed. Sometimes ignorance + instinct produces success. The power felt by using this rock form in the “sweet light” of sunrise, and composing it deliberately against the cool bluish sky, and nothing else, adds power to the picture. The texture, shape and color of the rock, becomes iconic in and of itself by the purity of the image.Slides3 015bbb Morning sky, beautiful mountains, and some green conifer trees. That’s it. You all know that I made my share of images of this location with reflections in Maroon Lake, and that I also created images with geese in the picture frame, and created some abstracts as well. I could not resist making this picture and I am glad that I didn’t. It is clean and simple, and it features raw, natural beauty.  It is true that nobody is going to say, what a brilliant composition Wayne created.  He’s such an artist. The question becomes, do I want other photographers to hold my talent in high regards, or do I want to create a powerful image?9conMaroonBells 058 ——————————————————————————————————- I don’t think there is anything more fun, than photographing the various types of water birds that exist in any given area. Even if you live in the desert, if there is water near-by, you will surely find water birds. Near the water, on the water, in the water, hunting, fishing, flying out of the water, stretching in the water. There is no end to the fun. Photographic tools,  are not just for landscapes.  They work in bird photography as well.  We are somewhat beholden to what the birds decide to do, but we can tweak our compositions. The important thing to remember is that tools are not rules. Immature Virginia RailDSC_0409 Male Common GoldeneyeDSC_5445b Black-crowned Night HeronDSC_0927 Great EgretDSC_7227 Immature Coot among the CattailsDSC_2474 Ruddy TurnstoneDSC_8319 Male Common MerganserMG 137 Male Red-breasted MerganserRBMerg1 035 Old Scruffy. Reddish EgretDSC_1647 ————————————————————————————————- Memories From The Field # 6 Today’s memory isn’t so much about a certain day or place, but is instead about a certain bird. I never photographed this (second one) pretty Red-tailed Hawk when I was with another photographer. I was always in my car alone. I never photographed her anywhere but on a power line. Just the same, I spent much time with this bird as she posed and entertained me for over six years. I worked with her mate a few times as well, but my friendship was with this one. She never flew away from me, and I absolutely believe she recognized me and decided to accept me. Over those years, when I would change to a new car, she would look at me with concern, but then quickly recognize me and settled down. These pictures were taken over two years apart and the first image is the male, and the second is my close friend. I could always tell them apart by where the yellow next to the beak was located, the markings on the beak itself, and the fact he was a bit smaller than her.Rtail70 065 RTHEastKB 064 We make a lot of friends while we are out creating pictures, and some of the best ones have feathers or fur. —————————————————————————————————— It is spring in the Northern Hemisphere, so I will finish today with an image of spring. This picture can be made (usually in early June) at a thousand places around where I live in southern Wisconsin. Year after year, I waited for the spring Phlox. I would experience three or four great days, and then it was time to move on to the next passage of spring.  When you live somewhere like I do (southern Wisconsin), and grand landscapes are few and far between, look for more intimate ways to illustrate what you are all about.1i2013slides 071 The job of the nature photographer is to know when things happen, photograph them, and move on. Everything passes, but there is always something new tomorrow. Photographers have a lot of tools at their disposal.  They have hardware, they have software, and they have formulas for composing pictures, but the greatest tools of all can’t be bought, and can’t be found in a book.  You already own them. Your brain tells you what to do, and your heart tells you if it’s right. God Bless,                                                                                                                                       Wayne

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