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Simple observation; The making of a photograph

Against the Sky

Photographs are all around us just waiting to be made. We need not travel to exotic locations to create art (although sometimes it is a nice diversion!), we just need to open our minds (more so than our eyes) to see what is around us. I preach to my students that if they find nice light they will find nice photographs. It is not about where you go but how you see that makes a great image. I have made many photographs in my own backyard.

This image can illustrate this point. On a late autumn morning, these dry grasses going to seed blowing on the hillside were not much to get excited about. However, after watching them for a few minutes, decided that they needed photographed, or really I felt the need to photograph them. As I viewed them against the hillside, they became lost in confusion, but by changing my angle of vision, dropping low and shooting from the opposite side I was able to isolate them against the hazy blue sky. The blue complimented the yellows of the dry grass, the angles provided by the soft wind and the soft light compliments of light overcast skies created a simple, yet interesting composition. It is all about your viewpoint.

Holiday Print Sale!

Winter Morning, Lake Lowell

I have never had a sale before, and am not sure it will happen again, but decided because it is Cyber Monday, I would try it out. For a limited time I am offering 10 inch open edition and 14 inch limited edition hand signed photographs for up to 50% off regular prices. These images are printed on the highest quality 100% cotton archival paper available. To take advantage of this offer, just select the images you would like from the blog, type it in the box to the right and select the size from the drop down menu.

Wintery Reflections

Wintery Reflections, Payette Lake

I see things simply. Somehow I can find the simple elements that together make utter chaos. We live in a a very fast-paced, even chaotic world, that unless we somehow simplify, will drive even the best of us insane. For some reason I was blessed with the ability to see simply, not just simply see. I admire photographers who can photograph the busy, complicated scene and have it make sense, but for me, I cannot do that. My style is to find the one element within a chaotic scene that shows simplicity, isolate it and render it in a quiet manner. I don’t know how I do it, it just seems to happen.

When looking at things in a simple way, consideration of space becomes crucial. Negative space creates a setting for the main subject, and can either make or break the impact of the image. If the placement is perfect, then large amounts of negative space enhance the visual impact of the photograph, imperfect placement will kill it. Being able to quickly evaluate a scene and make adjustments to maximize the impact before pressing the shutter is critical to the success of a simple image.

I love giving my students the assignment to photograph simplicity and then watch them struggle. Young people today are multi-taskers to the point of not even being able to recognize simple things. They live fast and complicated lives. Yet when the power of simplicity clicks in their minds their whole attitude changes for the better. A whole new world opens up for them to explore. It is a wonderful transformation to witness. Your challenge today is to find something simple and create something wonderful from it!

A Day of Thanksgiving!

My Pride and Joy!

Today is a great day to pause from everyday life and give thanks for everything and everyone that is important in our lives. My family puts up with a lot to allow me to pursue my dreams and aspirations. It is not easy being a photographers wife or a photographers child, so to those most important people in my life, I give thanks! To all of you who support me and give encouragement when needed by reading and commenting, or even purchased a print or two, I thank you. It is the people in my life, not the things, that make life rewarding. Without you, everything I do would be of no worth.

I have the most wonderful family. The kids keep us busy, that’s for sure. Football and basketball games, marching band and wrestling, dance and voice lessons, boy scouts and church activities, and the list goes on and on, but it is so worth it. This portrait was taken just 2 days before our oldest son left to serve a two year mission for the church. It will be a lasting reminder of who we are as a family while he is away. I couldn’t be more proud of all of my children and their accomplishments. My wife has raised them well! To her I give thanks. For her countless hours of shuttling kids around and making sure our schedules are kept, cooking meals and cleaning house, the never ending laundry, grocery shopping and on and on. I am forever indebted to her. I could not do what I do without her support. She is also my biggest fan.

Let us all remember on this Thanksgiving day what is truly important and remember to give thanks!

Snapshots and Photographs

Autumn Breeze

One of the keys to great photography is to isolate your subject. So many times I see images that have numerous main subjects. They are confusing to look at because I don’t know what I am supposed to look at. It seems that the photographer has “taken” a picture without thinking before pressing the shutter. When creating a photograph (vrs. taking a picture) I am always thinking while I am working. I work slowly so that every detail is considered. The first thing I consider is what the main subject really is. Are there conflicting subjects? If so, how do I resolve the conflict? Would the photograph be better by eliminating part of it? Maybe there are multiple photographs to be made instead of just one.

The second thing that I consider is how to isolate the subject so that there is no question as to what the viewer is to look at. Do I use a wide open aperture so that the background blurs out or is the background an important element of the image? Can I change my camera angle so as to isolate the subject against a non-distracting background? That was the case in the photograph above. The sky was dark enough to not distract yet had some texture in the clouds for interest. The bluish tint in the sky perfectly complimented the golden color of the dry grasses, making it an ideal backdrop for the photograph.

Taking time to think while photographing can make all the difference between just taking a snapshot and really creating something nice! I would much rather return from photographing with one really nice image than a hundred mediocre snapshots.