Photographic Discourse

Actually the word discourse would suggest something a bit more serious than I have in mind, but I was too mentally lazy to think up a different title so……..

Today’s post is merely about me grabbing a few of my own pictures at random, and then sharing with you, my thoughts about them.

When I was traveling around creating landscape images, most of my scouting was done at midday, and most of my photography was accomplished early or late in the day. At least with non-wildlife photography.

Different locations, east, west. north & south, different times of year, and different weather conditions of course dictated the mood and “flavor” of the finished image.

Black Canyon of The Gunnison in Colorado is a difficult place for compelling landscape photography. I worked this place on two occasions about 15 years apart. I worked all day on my last trip there, because it is far from home and I doubted there would ever be a third visit.

This shot looking down the canyon at the Gunnison River was made in late afternoon. Late enough to at least have some golden light without losing the actual rock cliffs and river in shadow and darkness. As most of you who know me would guess, I enjoyed the contrasts of shadow, warm sunlight, jagged rocks and the smooth water as I clicked the shutter.

This is not the sort of image that I would sell for fine art, but it is perfect for books on parks, if they would tolerate the late afternoon light. They sometimes use photos like this to complement traditional compositions made probably at “high noon”.

This next image was made on the canyon drive in Dinosaur National Monument in Utah/Colorado. This is an early afternoon shot. I almost held off for late afternoon but there’s never a reason not to make pictures now, if you know you can come back. More choices when you get home is a good thing.

To me, this is again about contrasts, but mostly contrasts of shape and texture, and a little bit color.

I loved the layers that were created with a dark tree, warm and textured rock, white billowy clouds, and blue sky.  An image like this can be a bit “busy”, but I liked it.

In some ways this picture, which was created shortly after sunrise in the San Juan region of the Colorado Rockies, seems counter intuitive from what it should be.

Above the mountains you can see the warmth in the clouds as the rising sun begins to paint them. But the clouds, and yes that is not fog but clouds in the valley, does not even show a bit of warmth reflecting from the higher clouds. The image is almost monochromatic. Almost.

Shiprock, New Mexico is a famous landmark. It was used by everyone from Native Americans to wagon trains headed west. My pal Ron and I actually drove upon it by accident. The night fog was breaking and the sun was painting. It would have been a shame to have missed this. I could almost feel what it must have been like to have been on one of those wagon trains.

It’s up to every photographer and every viewer of photographs to decide for themselves when contrasts are too much. This early in the morning shot was made in west Texas I believe. It is the low angle of the sun that dances across the image blasting some things, while dancing around others, and almost missing yet other parts entirely. I can tell I used a polarizing filter here and that almost caused too much of a contrast due to dark and light spots in the sky. While this image is not a favorite of mine, I’ll surely keep it. Variety is indeed, one spice in life.

Then of course, there are personal interpretations. This photo of a beach during a Lake Michigan sunrise would repel some people, and attract others. I made this a long time ago, and I am in the attracted to group. I realize that this is somewhat like a bad painting instead of a good photograph. The difference of course, is that this is reality captured with a camera. With of course some of that personal interpretation. I not only have not saturated this image during the editing process, I actually de-saturated it somewhat. The beginnings to some days are quiet and serene, and other times the day comes in gaudy and bold. My desire was always to capture all of them.

In some respects, does this not look as if the subject is lava in a volcano?

Then there are birds.

Bird photography is often about what new species will you add to your files today.

The two American Avocets you see below were photographed in New Mexico I believe, and the male Red-breasted Merganser image was acquired in Wisconsin. There is nothing more exiting in any form of wildlife photography then adding a new species to your files.

The Avocets came and went pretty fast but the Merganser paraded back and forth for a good, long time.  In both cases, I thanked them and moved on.

From the hard to get and rare species, to the common. This young Canada Goose gosling was a part of a crowd of brothers and sisters, of which I have shared the photos before. I was able to make it more intimate with this particular bird by visually & photographically isolating it.

Females of the species. Oft times with birds like Purple Martins or Red-winged Blackbirds, we photographers expend too much energy towards the male of the species and miss great shots of females. They’re just as interesting, and they are pretty in their own right.

Mrs. Martin, wanted to know who else was out enjoying the day at Hotel Martin.

This female Red-winged Blackbird kept herself busy capturing flying insects and bringing them to the kids. Yes, pa was doing the same in between strutting his stuff.

Macro world

Butterflies are wildlife too.

I can see that I used an electronic flash with this butterfly. The background was just close enough that a bit of it showed which helped to keep it all in context. If you look closely, you can see that the background is “greenish”. Flash can at times save a photograph.

Continuing with another macro, we have one of close-up photography’s most popular subjects, the flower.

As I sit here, I am not totally positive as to what this is. That’s a reminder to label your files with things like species and location. It looks like it could be a Purple Coneflower with its petals out instead of down. This is one of my favorite types of compositions with flowers. I also enjoy the softly focused (shallow enough depth of field) background to render such without too much detail, but just enough to see that it is natural and likely in a field.

It would have been unlikely to find any sort of commercial success with this image, but so what? It is always important to make some of the pictures that you feel like making, for yourself if nobody else.

Man can also make things pretty or spectacular, or at least loud. Fireworks produce great images just by pointing (on a tripod), and holding the shutter open.

Sometimes (rarely), simply pointing and shooting can be acceptable.

Have the best of days and may God Bless,

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