Thursday Tips: Preparation and Exploration

Tags

,

A few years ago I was on a waterfall shoot with a sizable group of people. (The “sizable group of people” scenario is far from my preferred modus operandi, but that’s a story for another day.) We arrived at a waterfall—Ludlow Falls, in Miami County, Ohio—that presented several challenges. Ludlow Falls is located on Ludlow Creek, which is as wide as most rivers at the point of the falls, but access to the waterfall is limited. You can walk down to the riverside with relative ease, but the falls are hundreds of feet away from the nearest exposed section of riverbank. To make things more difficult, there’s a (very unattractive) concrete bridge that carries a roadway and spans Ludlow Creek almost immediately above the waterfall.

When the group I was with arrived at this location everyone more or less automatically collected at the same riverside spot, pulled out a telephoto lens and went about the task of taking head-on shots of one type or another of Ludlow Falls. Everyone, that is, except me.

I sized up the “conventional shot” with a sidelong glance and pretty much immediately deemed it unappealing. I then went about exploring location to see if I could come up with something more interesting.

I thought—as I almost always do—that finding and expressing a different perspective—with a distinct foreground, middle ground and background—would help produce a more three dimensional feel using a medium that is, obviously, two dimensional in nature. The way to do that, I quickly concluded, was to incorporate elements of the creek. There was absolutely no way to do so without actually climbing into the creek itself and navigating my way to a series of rocks that were roughly 35 feet away from the riverbank.

Fortunately I had the appropriate footwear to do this. Since I had known that the focus of the shoot (waterfalls) would lead us to be around water, I was wearing a pair of waterproof knee-high rubber boats (as I always do when I expect to be around something wet). The water level of the creek at this point was below knee level, so, using a combination of rock hopping and wading, I made my way in the direction of the aforementioned rocks. I propped my tripod up on one of the rocks and then maneuvered around in the water, camera in hand, to try to find the ideal composition. Once I did so, I retrieved my tripod, set up, and produced the image (which you see below).

When all who were present that day subsequently shared images electronically, via a Web-based forum, the other attendees all heaped praise on my photograph of Ludlow Falls. It was “so different.” I had really “demonstrated outside the box thinking” in obtaining my shot.

So what’s the point of my story? Am I patting myself on the back because I’m a “better” photographer than the people I was with that day? No. What I was—at least that day—was the better prepared photographer. I was one of only two people who had brought waterproof footwear. What I had done wasn’t even an option for most of the people who were in attendance (though several of them, after seeing me wade into the creek, moved away from the “conventional” position to see if there was anything they could do with a different perspective).

I was also—again, at least that day—the more thoughtful photographer. I didn’t simply settle for the most obvious, easiest-to-access vantage point. (A clear view doesn’t always equal a compelling view.) Even the one other person with waterproof footwear that day didn’t bother to attempt anything but a snapshot of the conventional view (much to her chagrin, she later told me). She snapped that conventional shot, packed up and left, without even bothering to investigate other options.

Composing landscape photographs is about “seeing,” but in order to do so you have to give yourself a chance. That means exploring different perspectives and that, in turn, means being prepared to be able to move around and investigate. Sometimes the “better” shot is available only if you’re patient and inquisitive.

Thursday Tips is written by Kerry Mark Leibowitz, a guest blogger on 1001 Scribbles, and appears every other Thursday. To read more of his thoughts on photography, please visit his blog: Lightscapes Nature Photography.

Why Music is Everything for Me?

Tags

 

I happened to read a quote by Bob Marley, the famous Jamaican reggae singer cum songwriter. The quote says “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”. So true to my knowledge. Music is an art which soothes the mind and body equally and takes me to a world of happiness, sadness, wistfulness and what not. The intense feeling which I get while listening to my favourite numbers are unfathomable and nothing else could replace music in my life.

I must say that probably because I have been listening to great masterpiece songs by great legends and maestros since childhood, I have this attachment towards music. As a child, I was all wondered about the runs, improvisations, the pitch, the tunes and I wanted to sing exactly like the records. In growing years, I found myself in the clutches of music and my emotions were almost controlled by it. There is one such peculiar feature in music that it takes me to another world of utopia. It has this healing power to balance the body and the wavering moods and within a fraction of second, I find myself much more relaxed. In fact some days are so gloomy and down, and I keep listening to some of my favourite songs and the positive vibe comes from nowhere and am back with such enthusiasm and energy that I forget I was dull and numb a few minutes back.

It is a known fact that music has this ability to transform and influence the whole being in you. Its mood altering qualities have been a great solace for me and it keeps me moving ahead in life. I always prefer melodies and romantic songs which I feel are more filled with emotions and realities in them. Some pieces of music are exquisitely romantic and it soothes and relaxes each nerve and vein of our body.The percussions and orchestration can rejuvenate the spirits and soul within you and put forward a new person as a whole. There are some times I have felt that my life is just beyond my control. The powerful emotions inside me start to form themselves as waves which undulate sinuously inside my mind. The only solution I have ever found was just to listen to some soothing melodies and that has helped me in lot such scenarios. The stress, pressure, humdrums of life, inexorable anger, whims etc. are some kind of endless emotions in a human being and trust me; this so called five letter word “Music” can totally destroy that from life. Music seethes into my mind, keeps me refreshed, revitalizes, invigorates and helps me move in the vicissitudes of life ahead.

These are some of the reasons why I feel music is everything to me. Music has always been a great solace to me in ups and downs of my life. I would rather say music has been and is still a great friend of mine and there is a silent camaraderie I share with it, and I would like to keep this bond for eternity.

Author Bio: I’m Francisco Brannan, a strong music enthusiast and lover of various music genres. I currently work for EssaysOrigin.com, an online essay writing services review site to display best companies from the industry. Music is the only thing that helps me get relaxed out of stress business hours.

Thursday Tips: An Approach for Growth

Tags

, ,

Many moons ago, after I’d mastered the technical aspects of photography, I set about trying to further the aesthetic side of the endeavor. The logical approach, it seemed to me at the time, was to ask for critiques from other photographers. It seemed intuitive that such an approach would provide substantial assistance in my quest to develop creatively.

I was wrong. Critiques from others did me little, if any, good. I found many of the critiques—most of which were highly positive (perhaps unfortunately)–to be fairly prosaic, for one thing, but even with thoughtful, well-meaning constructive criticism, I found myself at least as likely to disagree with the thrust of the criticism as I was to gain anything from it.

In more recent years I’ve had a fairly large number of requests from other—presumably developing—photographers asking me to critique their work. I’m almost always willing, but with a couple of caveats, the first being that I never got much out of this process myself. The second limitation is that I see these kinds of critiques as little more than “one man’s opinion,” and I’m far from certain that anyone ought to take anyone’s opinion about something I believe to be as inherently subjective as the aesthetics of art all that seriously. Surely that doubt applies every bit as much to my opinion of someone’s art as anyone else’s.

Before anyone gets bent out of shape about any of this, let me clarify that I’m not saying that it’s impossible for anyone to benefit from the critique of their work by others. I have a number of photographer friends who swear that such a process was more helpful to them in their development than anything else. All I’m saying is that I don’t feel that it was helpful to me.

But, somewhat ironically, I do feel that the critique process was more helpful to my artistic development than anything else.

Huh? Did I not just contradict everything I wrote in the four preceding paragraphs? No. I really did benefit from the critique process. But it was the process of critiquing the images of others—often silently—that assisted me, not having others critique my work. Allow me to explain—this ongoing exercise helped me and it’s possible that it will help some of you with your own photographic development. It’s really quite simple.

Step 1: Look at images—lots of them. Include any and all photographic genres in which you’re interested and include the work of a multitude of photographers—and don’t necessarily limit yourself to those whose work you like—cast a broad brush.

Step 2: When you look at an image, give yourself a few seconds to simply react to it—and note that reaction, be it like, dislike, ambivalence, whatever.

Step 3: Analyze the reaction recorded in Step 2. Why did you have the reaction you had? What is it about the image in question that elicited your visceral response? Be as specific and complete as possible. This is the most difficult step of all, in my view, but it’s assuredly the most important—the critique itself. You may well take some time before you’re able to routinely—and honestly—fulfill this step, but don’t be frustrated and definitely don’t get caught up in the notion of discovering the “correct” answer. There isn’t one, at least not in any objective sense.  And keep in mind that since the point of this exercise is to benefit you, there’s no need to share your feelings with anyone else.

Step 4: After running through steps 1-3 on at least a few dozen images, step back and attempt to summarize to yourself; are you detecting any patterns outlining what you like/dislike and why? You may have to run though many, many images before you’re able to answer these questions in the affirmative but, eventually, you’re likely to do so. This is where the process should concretely help you in your own photographic endeavors, because once you’re able to obtain a better feel for what appeals to you and why you can apply that knowledge directly in the field.

And understand—this isn’t about copying someone else’s technique or duplicating their images. It’s about using the power of observation to better understand yourself and, as a result, your ever-developing art.

Thursday Tips is written by Kerry Mark Leibowitz, a guest blogger on 1001 Scribbles, and appears every other Thursday. To read more of his thoughts on photography, please visit his blog: Lightscapes Nature Photography.