Hemlock Falls – It’s a matter of perspective

When I first began to try to take pictures of landscapes, I would inevitably try to capture an image of wide, sweeping vistas. You know, those epic mountain ranges, or cloudscapes or tree lines.  Somehow, what I saw with my eye never quite appeared on the back of my camera after I took the shot. Since then I have learned a bit more about cameras and specific lenses and how they “see”. In a nutshell, I can tell you that they don’t see like our eyes do.  More importantly, I have learned that I rarely want a picture of that wide scene anyway. I try (and often fail) to ask myself “What, exactly, am I taking a picture of, anyway?”

I mentioned in a previous post that a group of photographers can stand in front of the same scene and come away with completely different images. Each will represent that photographer’s point of view, or tell the story that he wants to communicate. I was reminded of this when I read reports on the photographs that came out the recent G7 meetings in Canada. Same event. Different photographic perspectives.

Last week I had a chance to wander down into Cloudland Canyon in north Georgia.  There are two waterfalls in the canyon, and I was hoping to be able to capture at least one of them. As it turned out, I was able to spend a fair amount of time at Hemlock Falls. The other, Cherokee Falls, was just too popular on the day that I was there. Swimmers, hikers and families enjoying an early summer day made pictures there an impossibility. Hemlock Falls is farther down the canyon – which means a longer climb coming back out – so I had more options down there. Continue reading “Hemlock Falls – It’s a matter of perspective”

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Milky Way – Take 2. Hunting Island State Park

One of my goals this year has been to learn astrophotography. Well, at least to begin to learn. I suspect I will spend the rest of my life on the process. I had my first opportunity to photograph the Milky Way last month, and I was relatively pleased with the process. By that I mean you could actually see the Milky Way and it was reasonably in focus! Those are low expectations, I know, but they were realistic.

I wanted to get back out as quickly as I could to try to build on that first experience. My wife and I headed to Hunting Beach State Park in South Carolina for some dark skies on a moonless night last week. The forecast called for clear skies on Friday with clouds moving in Saturday morning. I hoped they would hold off until just before dawn so that I could capture the Milky Way followed up by a nice sunrise. Continue reading “Milky Way – Take 2. Hunting Island State Park”

Why Go to a Photography Workshop?

Let’s face it. There are a hundred ways to learn new things. Well, maybe there are really only three or four, but one of those ways is “online”, and there are hundreds of places online to learn just about anything. Want to learn math, or cooking, or French or how to change your oil? No problem. A quick Google search and a few YouTube videos later you are on your way.

Of course you can still learn by taking a class, or reading a book, or watching someone else in real life. You can even pick up the old “trial and error” method if you would like. You’ll learn something.

But, for me at least, there is very little that replaces the accelerated learning process that happens at a workshop. My biggest strides in photography – or at least what I have learned about photography – have always happened in a group educational session. Especially when that session involves “hands-on” opportunities. I’ve taken a few classes that are set up that way, attended an outstanding lighting class with Tony Corbell at the South Carolina Lamarr School, and have even done a couple of group activities around Charlotte. Continue reading “Why Go to a Photography Workshop?”

Week 5: Landscape – Black and White

After studying German for five years of my youth, you would think that I would remember more than a few odd words and spurious phrases. However, when you consider just how long ago my youth was, and how little I have used my German over the years decades, you probably shouldn’t be that surprised. One of the few things that I remember is particularly relevant this week’s entry for the photo challenge. “Besser spät als nie.

I know this post is late. Week 5 officially ended a couple of days ago. I didn’t get out to take the shot until Monday morning. This Monday morning. Yesterday. So, I’m late. As we say in English, “better late than never.” It loses nothing in the translation from German.

This was landscape week, and the particular assignment was to get a black and white photo. The instructions suggested a “scene with great contrast that will make a great black and white.” Unlike typical landscape photography which is best done around the times that the sun is rising or setting or – at the very least – hiding behind a layer of clouds, black and white shots are best taken when the sun is high in the sky. ( I would tell you to Google Ansel Adams images to get an idea of what I am talking about, but I would prefer that you didn’t look at his work before you see mine.) Continue reading “Week 5: Landscape – Black and White”

Your own backyard

Iceland, Croatia, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Peru, Oregon, Utah, the list could go on. In no particular order, these are places that I would love to visit with my camera. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to spend a small amount of time in a couple of those spots, and those visits did nothing but whet my appetite to return. You’ve probaly seen breathtaking photographs taken in some of those places. There’s a reason that so many photographers spend so much time and money to get to them. So, I find myself relating to the duck in the picture above, trying to paddle my way back to Mt. Hood.

The reality, however, is that those kind of trips are few and far between for me. I will never see some of the places that I think about visiting. And that’s alright. There’s plenty of stuff to shoot right around here. Continue reading “Your own backyard”

Week 3: Red

It snowed yesterday. I don’t know where you live, so maybe that’s not a big deal to you. After all, snowfall in January in the northern hemisphere isn’t really that unusual. Unless you live where I do, in South Carolina. Every couple of years we get enough snow to notice, and yesterday was that day.

Schools, government offices and most businesses around here shut down at the mention of the possibility of a snowflake sighting, so that leaves time to get outside. For me, it also meant a chance to complete the third week of this year’s photography challenge. Continue reading “Week 3: Red”

Week 2: Traditional Landscape

It was landscape photography that motivated me to pick up a camera again. I enjoy the woods, the mountains, and the serenity of hearing nothing but birds, brooks and my boots on a trail. I wanted to be able to bring back some of the views that I saw along the way to share with others and to spark my own memories. So you would think that the idea of taking a landscape photograph every third week as a part of the 52 Week Photography Challenge would be particularly exciting for me. It is. And it isn’t.

This week’s challenge was a Traditional Landscape. The specific instructions were to “shoot a beautiful landscape and share it with the world. Find a nice foreground and don’t forget the sky.” I don’t live in an area of the country that most people think of when landscapes are mentioned. We have no rocky mountain ridges or colorful deserts or breathtaking seascapes. At this time of year we don’t have winter wonderlands or snow-capped anything. We have a lot of brown. With touches of grey. So I knew that finding a traditional landscape shot this week would present an extra challenge. Continue reading “Week 2: Traditional Landscape”