Thursday, May 12, 2011

Nature and Design ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Scripted From Nature"
(1/100 sec.@ F/8, ISO 200, 90mm fl, midday shade, 55-200mm zoom vr)

It's so easy to fall into the routine landscape or nature photo approach. Wait for perfect sunset lighting, find an idealistic vista, widen your focal length and include every hill and dale, get moody with weather changes, etc. The danger is that every approach starts to feel the same, and every resulting image echoes the one before. Time to break out of the box.

Spent the day yesterday with a great friend wandering local trails, historical arboretums, and celebrated rock gardens with our cameras. My personal challenge this week has been to change my approach to these familiar spots and how I photograph them. I have been reading a book this week by George Barr called "Take Your Photography to the Next Level". A lot of what I've read I knew already, but it was a reminder that much of it I'm still not applying to my craft. Being more consistently on the lookout for design or elements of it in our immediate surroundings. And then photographing it in such a way that it draws the eye regardless of how simple the premise is. Barr's "Rules for Looking" should be in every photographer's kit.

To be sure, I got some great landscape shots yesterday. But more importantly, I used my eyes, looked for design in it's most natural form and began to get really excited about the endless possibilities out there. The images today are examples of how all of this has motivated me to look deeper at my subject matter. Less surface clutter, more intentional photography. The image of the Birch bark was challenging. It can tend to look very busy, with extreme contrasts. So I had to use caution when deciding on the comp and the exposure. Watched my histogram carefully to ensure the whites would pop without blowing out.

"Convergence of Karst"
(1/50 sec.@ F/9, ISO 200, 19mm fl, full shade, 18-55 kit zoom, handheld)

This image of the karst that rims the trails at the Hermitage is my other favorite from my personal exercise yesterday. Shape is a very strong way to make a photo engaging, and when I glanced down at my feet getting ready to hop to a much bigger piece of rock I noticed the way the karst converges together with triangle shapes naturally. Compositions of the forest floor make you stop and look at the cycle nature takes. Years of moss along karst shaped by hundreds of years of weather, last years leaves carpeting the surface and home to myriads of critters and fungus. Nature and design working together. And so often we miss it.

Hope you're working on thinking outside the norm with your own cameras. Get out there and explore! Thanks for the ramble folks, have a good one!


  1. Both are lovely. But I really love the bark picture. I'm such a fan of tree trunks, and such a lousy tree trunk photographer! Glad you shared this one with us. And way to go challenging yourself.

  2. In the past I've used trees as filler in my shots, I have to be honest. And why? I have no idea. But lately have been trying to get more personal with my photos instead of only what would be more popular.
    Good to hear that image and message came across the way I hoped Bob! And any critiquing too is always welcomed.