Make it Personal

If there is one thing I have always suggested to photographers, it is to make every image their own. Even when you create pictures directly for a client, there is enough “wiggle room” to own what you are going to sell. Make it personal.

There are some things that we will all do (photographically) under the same circumstances and conditions. That’s somewhere from 75% down to 10% of the image. The rest belongs to you. Put your signature and your personality on and in every picture. Those who view your pictures, may not see you in the picture, and they probably don’t care. That’s natural. Injecting ourselves is the selfish part of image making, but that’s okay. The first part of creating an image might be about people liking your pictures, or about people buying your pictures, but the finish, well, that’s your signature.

All of today’s pictures are very old. A few were given birth on film. Whether it’s a picture I made in 1978, or 2014, whether they are good or bad, art or simply a photograph, I am in all of my pictures. I am sure a few of these images were made with thoughts of future use, but most of today’s selections, were made for myself. Accompanying the pictures you will find my thoughts when making the image, if, and that’s a big if, I remember. Like all old pictures, most would be superior with today’s cameras and software.

I have been in love with sunrises/sunsets since I was three years old. I am mesmerized with the golden hour. I do love clouds and skies at any time of day.

When I was a little boy I would sit on the living room floor, and watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan. It seemed surreal even to a child so small. On lazy summer days, I would lake on my back outdoors in the grass, and look up at all of those clouds. They seemed to be everything but clouds. None, were “normal”. There is no normal in our imagination.

I don’t remember making some of these pictures, but you can be sure that while I was making technical decisions on how to recreate what I saw, I was also using my imagination and instincts to create what and how I felt.

Notice with the second image, I broke my “rule” of not dividing horizon lines in the middle. I have no idea what was going through my mind but it works well (my opinion) with this picture because of the rock below the center line, and the sun above it.1cranes-003b

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This final image of the group is obviously a slightly altered reality. Beyond the black and white conversion, I rarely do that, but never say never.

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There is nothing like a stormy desert road that leads to a stormy landscape. This is Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona. With only one day, from early morning to sunset, to visit this iconic location, my mind and body were both busy. Storms with clouds, blue skies with clouds, overcast and a mouth-watering sunset all in one day.8dsc_2516

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Very little of my autumn photography included signs of man, but I have walked across this bridge a thousand times in my life, in all four seasons. It’s a simple unspectacular picture but it was important to me to make it. I used the traditional leading line technique much as I did with the desert road in the previous set of images.10t0016

This winter picture was made not far from that bridge. This compositional style has worked well for me professionally with autumn images, but never winter. I loved the late light when I made the photo and I especially loved the shadows and the way the ground was absent. As was normally the case, I put into my picture only what I wanted.11dsc_0075

I have spent as much time on my hands and knees in winter as I have standing upright. I love making close-ups of ice and snow.

With this first shot I was blessed with a dark background that was a good three feet from my subject. That allowed me to render some detail in the ice while holding minimal detail in the background. I eliminated a few bothersome light spots that sneaked into the background of the picture by reducing the exposure on that background during the editing process.12dsc_4248

An image like the one above has about zero chance of being sold, yet I was happy to have made it.

Normally when I photographed hanging icicles, I searched for those with blue sky backgrounds. I have shown many such pictures on these pages. I found these icicles hanging from the bottom edge of an auto bridge. After creeping along the edge of a river, I finally found some rocks to stand on as I set my tripod up in the water. The background was in deep shade and I recognized the opportunity to do something different. I was always up for something different. Notice that the blue sky is penetrating the icicles.13dsc_0309

I’ve made and shown a lot of Lupine leaves with dew. Most have a lot more dew than this one. While I don’t remember making this image I am guessing that I was actually attracted to the fact that there was less dew than usual on this leaf. It went against the personal statement that I had been making for several years. I guess that made it a personal statement of a different order.14dsc_5631

One of my favorite subjects for macro photography are wild grasses, especially Foxtail Barley Grass. I made this image shortly after sunrise while there was till some dew on the grass, and the light was still warm and sweet. These grasses lay, fall and drift into an unimaginable number of compositions. It allowed me to use my imagination, and it allowed me to fulfill my sense of design. In the end, they were my images in every way.15dsc_6228

Grasses of all kinds are not only suitable subjects to me, but they are among my favorites. They call out to me and they have my name stamped all over them. When I would find them with rain or dew, and a few out of focus flowers in the background, I was in macro heaven.

I do so love close-up photography.

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I’ve shown this photo and a few similar ones before. The frustration that exists in photographing orb webs with dew on them, and creating sharp pictures with no movement, is indescribable to anyone who has not tried it. I usually give up and search for subjects (like wildlife) that carry less frustration with them. This morning I decided to go with the flow. This abstraction is just as much me, as are those sharp, clear shots.17webs-008

I taught the rules (better said tools) of composition for many years. Those tools, can improve the power of anyone’s imagery. This composition is merely an attempt to find what was likely my 10th different way of using that rock formation in a picture. The comp was a personal decision. This is Valley of the Gods, Utah.18dsc_2642

No matter how many pictures we make that are unique in their approach, in the end, time-tested straight forward images of well-known subjects are just as much a part of us, as are those that seem to carry our signature. Every picture we make is personal. A little piece of who we are shows in all that we do, especially our photography.

Four Sandhill Cranes flying in formation is standard stuff, and this is a standard sort of picture.  Our pictures are our pictures whether they are unique or traditional. I didn’t have many choices in this composition.  I enjoyed that three cranes have their wings in almost the same position, while one bird has them fanned out to its side.19dsc_7791

Below you will find some profound explanations for our recent presidential election. It is worth reading (and learning) for both Democrats and Republicans. It comes from no less than the Canada Free Press.

http://canadafreepress.com/print_friendly/5-lessons-for-republicans-from-trumps-win

God Bless,                                                                                                                                                Wayne

 

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