“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”
Something happens when you switch from taking snapshots, to creating art.
When I started in photography, I was taking pictures of EVERYTHING. Not setting up a composition, not caring that harsh, spotty light was reflecting off the water in very distracting ways, or pay close attention to all of my settings.
I was lucky to be part of a local camera club that showed me the error of my ways. It’s always hard to hear criticism, but when amazing photographers want to help you get better, you sit down, shut up and listen. Or in my case, load them all in a car and go out on day trips learning from each other.
I like to compare it to when I was riding my motorcycle. Your field of vision opens up, you start looking at everything around you and prepare to read the next oncoming corner to get the setup right. It’s the same with photography. You step back and soak in the entire scene. Where the sunlight is breaking through the branches, the stream is bubbling through the rocks and curving around the stones, you read the scene and start to set up your gear and decipher the right settings.
I can step back and take a deep breathe and enjoy what surrounds me. Instead of hiking right through the trail, I stop more often to look around. I usually get teased by my husband for this, but he is slowly starting to do the same thing when he notices the magic that nature brings into our life. Most of the time, the camera doesn’t come out anymore, I want to enjoy what is out there. But when I see that remarkable scene that I want to remember time and time again, that is when the gear comes out.
Knowing when to take the image is a HUGE part of photography. Morning or evening light is going to give you that glowing, gorgeous light. However, if you’re in a forest, almost anytime is lovely. I love sitting outside with my coffee in the early morning, or as the sunsets and just watching the scene. I’ve also headed out at 3 am to drive two and a half hours to watch the sunrise over a field of balsamroot. Yes, it’s a great scene any time of day, but the light that happens in the “golden hours” are always my favorite.
Like Ansel Adams said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
The images composition makes you explore the scene a little bit more. Lay on the ground and see what lays beneath the standard field of view, scale a few rocks and see what lays beyond the outcropping, or even get your feet wet and put yourself in the water itself.
Find a way to create a new and exciting composition everytime you go out. You’ll start doing this with everything you come across, even when you’re cooking dinner.
Like I stated before when I first began this adventure, I was taking images from standard viewpoints and not constructing the scene. Now exploring and climbing is the significant part of the composition, not to mention, it is quite fun.
Since my whole photography obsession began, it has taught me to slow down and look at the scene. And in doing that, it has made me appreciate what is out there.
So I implore you, slow down and soak in the magic that is nature.
Want to see more of my favorite landscapes? Head over to my gallery!