Monthly Archives: September 2012

Let Emotions Lead You to Great Images

"Winter Aspens and Pine"

This image is the product of emotions, a true connection with the natural landscape and patience. I had passed this location numerous times over the years in search of wildlife, but never “saw an image”. One Spring morning, while hiking through, this section of trees pulled me in. I didn’t see an image that day, but I didn’t ignore what I felt. I returned to this spot every season for several years. The feeling remained, but the conditions didn’t quite fit my emotions. Fall colors, new Spring green, snow covered. They all lacked…something. I stayed true to the emotions that kept bringing me back. Finally, it happened! This particular morning had just the right even light and brightness. It was snowing lightly, the wispy dormant aspens had a delicate, wispy lightness to them. The pines in the background showed there subtle detail and subdued, yet rich color, which set off every nuance of the aspen branches. This was the moment where my emotion matched the visual moment! The art happened. I was able to “bring the fine art of nature home”.

This process of “bringing the fine art of nature home” is something I have been basing my art around for years. It is also what I base my photo tour concepts on. I don’t want to create massive volumes of pictures. I want to do justice to those moment in time that make me feel…right. And I want to share that with the world in the finest print possible. That is my passion. For this image, I felt it was imperative to choose my medium carefully. With the fine detail and subtlety in this composition, I chose to use my 8×10 inch film camera, which I have adapted to also take 4×10 inch panoramic format images. This huge format not only records amazing detail, but also forces me to take full responsibility for every aspect of the final exposure and image. Along with it’s cumbersome nature and great cost to shoot, I find that I must shoot very deliberately and consciously to make sure my exposure and composition match my emotional vision. This has helped me grow as an artist, and enables me to express the emotion I feel in the natural world through my fine art prints.

Photo Tip:
Stop thinking technically (about all the functions on the camera and all of your software), and focus on that which brought you to the outdoors to begin with. Yes, we have to understand enough about exposure, light and composition to capture an image, but we need to have a feeling about the subject to compose a piece of art! Trust yourself and the emotions that draw you to a particular image, and use the technical aspects of photography as the final part of capture. Immerse yourself in your natural surrounding, enjoy the experience and let your art go beyond a two dimensional technical capture.

Canham 8×10 Metal Field Camera adapted to also Shoot 4×10 Panorama, Rodenstock 360 mm APO Sironar-S lens, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo Carbon Tripod, Fuji Provia RDP III  100 speed Transparency Film.

Posted in 4x10 film, 8x10 film, aspen grove, California, Fallen Leaf Lake, fine art, forest, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, Mountains, Panorama, panorama film, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Pine Forest, Snow Photography, Tutorial Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Anticipation is a key to capturing great wildlife moments

Coyote Mousing

Watching the amazing things wild animals do in their daily lives is often amusing and exciting to experience. Hey, that’s why we invest the time in the field. However, understanding their behavior, understanding what we may expect, and carefully observing the details enables us to be prepared and anticipate when that magic moment might occur. This coyote picture is a great example of success through anticipation.
I occasionally visit this meadow near where I live in lake Tahoe in search of wildlife (I anticipate their being here). When I saw this coyote slowly zigzagging through the meadow grass, I knew he was hunting for field mice, voles and ground squirrels. I quietly picked a spot slightly ahead of him, in the direction he was meandering, and set myself up in the treeline for cover. Then, I observed.
When he heard movement in the grass he froze, his ears swung to the front and his head pointed directly at the prospective meal. Importantly, I noticed that he would crouch, putting all of his weight on his hind legs, prior to bounding into the air toward his prey. Now, whenever he would stop, I would set my focus, then move his current position to the side of the frame, anticipating that he would leap into the scene. This gave me a composition that was natural for the eye to observe.
I also metered the scene and set my exposure time appropriately to freeze the impending burst of motion.
Anticipation enabled me to capture the “decisive moment” that I am sharing with you now. It also enabled me to relax and enjoy the show, as I was confident in being prepared for the shot. I was able to both shoot the action and enjoy the natural beauty that brought me to nature photography in the first place!

Photo Tip:
Study, research and plan in anticipation of the animals you are likely to see in the location you plan to visit. Prepare your gear with appropriate lens choice, tripod, and exposure settings in anticipation of what you may see in that setting. When you do find the animal(s) you hope to photograph, observe every aspect of their behavior in anticipation of that decisive moment that will make the shot you dreamed of.

Equipment used:
Nikon D300, Nikon 200-400 F4 AF VR, Nikon 1.4x teleconverter, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo 1325 Carbon Fiber Tripod.

Posted in aspen grove, California, coyote, digital photography, Fallen Leaf Lake, forest, jon paul gallery, Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Wildlife, mousing, nikon, photo techniques, Photo Tip, teleconverter, telephoto lens, Tutorial, wildlife photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |