I have a small eclectic group of images for you today. I realize that viewing posts where all I do is show pictures and make personal observations about them, whether they be my pictures or those from others, may not be particularly illuminating to everyone. All of us have observations about photographs but most of you do your opining privately. I personally enjoy reading what others think about their own photography, and hope that some of you do too.
I try to rotate the subject of my posts between sharing the work from other photographers, sharing my own work with comments, and non-photography posts on subjects like politics, social issues, sports and religion. I am happy to say that the readership of Earth Images, has gone as of late.
One of the great things about the American Southwest, is of course all those Sandstone rock formations. They are amazing under any type of light, with the differing textures and colors of the various rocks separating one picture from others. Another reason they are so great, is the varied shapes they have. It is those shapes, that make them great subjects even without texture and detail.
The first image is an iconic rock to silhouette, aptly named Balanced Rock. Many, many images have been made here in pre-sunrise and post-sunset light. In fact, this may be America’s most photographed Silhouette. Balanced Rock lives in Arches N. P., Utah. This particular picture originated on Velvia film.
Once you get past Balanced Rock, very few photographers create silhouettes of western rocks.
This striking formation is in Valley of The Gods State Park in Utah. I had no previous knowledge of this formation, or for that matter this park, before arriving. This is why I get up early. Serendipity is an amazing thing.
All pre-sunrise pictures are not necessarily warm. Oft times shots taken after the eastern sky has began to lighten, but well before the sun nears the horizon, are cool and blue.
I had driven all day and night to reach the Badlands of South Dakota by sunrise. Bleary eyed, I turned into Badlands N.P. just in time. As I searched for some kind of rock to silhouette, I realized that even if I waited for the sun to reach the horizon, this was not going to be a warm and inviting sort of sunrise. I chose to shoot anyway. You can faintly see some very light white clouds. Even those clouds did not pick up any warmth from the sun. I was happy to have located rocks with distinct shapes, and happy to be back in the Badlands.
Variety is the spice of life.
Silhouettes do not have to be that of western rock forms. Something like a group of leafless trees will suffice. If you can find some water to go with those trees, then you have the daily double. A striking silhouette, and some mirrored reflections all in one.
Normally when I show the picture above, it is titled Confusion. There are a lot of lines wandering around inside this picture frame. Just the same, this picture is really not confusing at all. Red and black are the only colors here. Because those lines created by the trees, are mirrored exactly below the center of the picture frame, with the simplicity of not only color (only two), but tone (only two), and because those lines are being ordered by their repetition, this photo is actually simple and even peaceful. Order out of chaos.
It will however, continue to be called Confusion.
Great subjects are everywhere.
Reflections can make for some interesting abstracts. I found this rock at the edge of a tidal pool at the shoreline of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I couldn’t stop looking at it and finally, a unique reflective abstraction appeared in my brain. Perfect mirrored reflections were impossible because of the water, but in the end, I liked this even better. This originated on 645 (really 4.5×6) film.
This pond, tree line, and mountain were found (at sunrise) in Yellowstone N.P., Wyoming. This is why I get up early.
Water can be hard and reflective like ice or a mirror, but it can also be soft and dreamy. This is also a 645 film picture and it was made at a Wisconsin waterfall/rapids. I especially liked the contrast between the soft willowy water and the crisp, hard rock. I divided up the scene specifically to have about 2/3rd softness, and 1/3rd rigidness. The soft water of course is the result of a long exposure. I no longer remember what that exposure was but I know I used two 2 stop (all that was made then) graduated neutral density filters, turned with the dark part completely over the lens, and a polarizing filter ( another two stop loss of light), to slowwww down my shutter as far as could be done back then. I am sure I also used an aperture of f32 to add more “slowness” to that shutter speed.
Most serious landscape photographers would not make the picture you see below. The idea with most of them would be to find a complicated scene, and do a brilliant job of simplifying it through composition. There are in fact many photographers capable of that feat. Then future viewers (really mostly other photographers), will realize what an artist they are.
I have shown a few images made at Guadeloupe N.P. in Texas over the years, and they are indeed normally wide angle landscapes in which I use Yucca plants and/or rocks in the foreground to guide us to the majestic El Capitan. Sometimes the simplest image doesn’t have to be a creation of the mind of the photographer. Sometimes, it already exists. This picture was made in late morning but it was wintertime, and the low angled sun still provided some warmth. The contrast between the cool, smooth blue sky, and the warm and textured rock, is a gift from God. I am just happy that at times I was shown these simple images that were presented to me already composed, probably in a greater style than I could ever conjure.
What I am going to say next is a photography related subject that I’ve dealt with before, however I do not think I have adequately explained my position in those past writings. I think many of you might say that I am on both sides of this issue.
A few posts back I wrote about how I was watching a TV show and one person asked another, what do you do for a living. The answer was I am a photographer. The person posing the question looked baffled and finally said, I didn’t know there were professional photographers anymore. After all, everybody’s a photographer today. She was correct in the latter statement. In one form or another, everybody is a photographer today. Not just cell phones and the like, but anybody can make good, detail filled pictures with today’s cameras.
That assumption about “everybody is a photographer today” is held by many and it leads some photographers to become angered and express the following sentiment. “It’s not about the equipment, it’s about the person using it“. I myself have wrote those exact words in this very blog. The photographer does make the difference…….but, photography is always about the equipment.
A great photographer/artist will “often” make both better technical and artistic pictures than the person that thinks it is all about the equipment. Just the same, a so/so photographer with great equipment will often make pictures that will impress viewers even more than images made by the consummate photographer/artist who might have outdated and crappy equipment. It takes both the photographer and the equipment.
Those photographers who state that it is the photographer not the equipment, in every case I have seen, have only the best equipment and love telling everybody what they’ve got. They are offended by the concept that everyone is a photgrapher because of the equipment, but they want everybody to know about their expensive cameras and lenses.
Like it or not, photography rolls around equipment. Once that equipment is learned and put into use, then those with the talent and the artistic drive to pursue excellence and independent thought, will shine. Yes, there will always be those who rise above the equipment, but they will also have the best cameras and lenses that money can buy.
Once again the holiday we call Memorial Day is here. Hopefully all of us here in the U.S. will remember those brave souls who have given their all for our freedom. You cannot give more than your life. Nobody said it better than Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address, when to honor those who had fallen there, he gave notice that they had “given the last full measure of their devotion”.
God Bless, Wayne