Most photographers (my opinion) fall into one of two categories when it comes to photographing iconic landscape locations. They either attempt to copy what they’ve seen before, or they insist on making images that are different. They want their own personal stamp on their finished image. While I would agree that if you have to choose one path or the other, that the second is the better, I never understood why one would feel the need to do anything other than create the image that feels right to them. Other than money ( sales for art prints, magazines etc.), the truest, purest form of making anything, be it a writing, a painting or a photograph, is to do what satisfies your personal tastes and creative urges, at the time of conception.
I have been fortunate to have photographed a few iconic locations and in most cases, my pictures vary quite a bit from what I had seen before. One spot, where the Mormon barn rests along the front range of The Grand Teton Mts. my compositions are fairly similar to what has been done by others.
I was traveling with a primarily wildlife photographer and we had about 10 minutes at this legendary spot. It was late afternoon, and initially a heavy cloud cover made for some soft light, but some nicely even tones. I have shown this pano crop many times before and it has worn well with the public over the years. As I moved around looking for other compositional opportunities the sun ( from behind the mountains) began to provide some color. Those clouds reflected a little bit back onto the mountains. I had two slightly differing compositions, each with a different characteristic to the light. Both are what would be considered “classic views”.
Below you see an image I have shared many times before, and one I have never shared until this past Sunday.
Classic view, unique view? You’ll do your best ( my opinion), when you make pictures that come natural to you, at the time you make them. Become good at the technology of image making, and let the little man or woman inside, guide your art.
It’s strange how time and circumstances changes us, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, and other times it just changes us.
Round about seven or so years ago, about 15 minutes after sunrise on an early spring morning, I headed into an all night store to make a purchase, and noticed a strange lump on the far right corner of the roof of the building. It was a Great-horned Owl sunning itself on a chilly morning. I did what thirty+ years of wildlife photography taught me to do. I got back in my car, and headed home for my camera and long lens. A 20 minute round trip. My tripod was always in my trunk. Get the picture! I drove through the traffic light and glanced one last time at the roof of the building, and my friend was gone. I went back into the store, made my purchase, and soon after forgot about the owl.
Fast forward seven years (yesterday), and once again I headed into that same store shortly after sunrise.
I need to confess this next part. I rarely look for birds anymore. I still love birds and all of nature, but it was driving me crazy once I realized that it was unlikely I would be making pictures anymore. I slowly stopped seeing pictures everywhere. That meant that I also stopped seeing photographic subjects.
This time when I saw that owl basking in the golden light of sunrise, I not only could not stop looking, but years and years of memories of photography in the field came rushing back to me. Pictures….thousands of them from the past as well as many that I would have made that morning, filled my brain. I realized that there would be no pictures, but I thanked God there are still owls.
After I came out of the store my friend was still sitting there enjoying the morning sun. I could swear he/she winked at me. A wise old owl.
Pictures of an owl basking in the morning light would be considered a classic view. Sometimes classics are trivial, and sometimes they are everything.
God Bless, Wayne