Sometimes photographing in popular locations yields quite funny pictures.
I was photographing in Carrizo Plains in California. A couple ventured into the flower field as I was taking a series of timed exposures to be used for time stacking later.
I knew they will have no impact on the final image. But when they noticed me they started crouching. Not sure if it would really help were I taking a single exposure but it made for quite funny image.
I waved them that they were not creating any problems for me and yelled “Thanks”. And they happily proceeded to take pictures they wanted.
The final image I was after:
This is yet another of the posts in line with the previous one where I advocate for not falling into a trap of repeating cliché image of a place but instead finding your own point of view.
There is an alley not far from my house with a trees that turn beautiful red in fall. The alley is on private property – fenced and gated. The place is quite popular in fall with local photographers. There are a few photographers there every morning taking photos thru the gate or waiting for their turn to take the photos thru the gate. I did so to. Mine look at little bit like painting because I used Orton effect.
Then I stepped back yielding the place to another photographer and realized that there is more interesting image with the gate which tells completely different story. It is not about lines of trees and foliage anymore. It is about something unachievable, out of reach, another world behind the gate. It is about reality and a dream world and the gate separating the two.
I have mentioned in one of my previous posts that I find my inspiration in paintings. One of the masters whose works inspire me is Shishkin. His landscapes have almost photographic accuracy. Interestingly enough many of his landscapes are depicting nature at noon – some of the hardest light for photography – and yet it looks so beautiful in his paintings. His paintings are utterly simple depicting seemingly mundane landscapes, but the way he does it make them look magical, filled with warmth, hard to take my eyes off, perfect in every respect.
I live in Oslo temporarily. I run regularly and use running as a way to discover Oslo for myself. I also have my smartphone with me and use it to capture things that catch my eye. The smartphone has become my sketching tool. That is how I discovered Bygdøy Peninsula. Oslofolks call it an island and I can see why. It is covered with forest, farms and countryside cottages. It is an oasis of nature in the middle of a city where anyone can escape from noise and rush of the city life.
When I saw the forest of on Bygdøy peninsular, it reminded me of Shishkin’s paintings. I made some sketches with the smartphone and then I came back at noon (just like Shishkin’s paintings) with a camera to spend more time working on images.
Walking thru this oasis of nature, making photos was very relaxing experience. The sun was shining, breeze was touching my skin, birds were singing, trees were whispering.
Later that day at night I was processing photos. I was eager to jump onto the task because I wanted to see what I had gotten and how much I can translate my experience into images. As I was working with the images I realized that I felt warmth of the sun and coolness of the breeze, heard birds singing and trees whispering. All my senses were tied to these images.
I have many photography. I like to dive into someone’s imagery and photo books is the most affordable way to do it. But looking at photo books is not where I get my inspiration from. What gets me inspired is paintings. I can spend endless hours studying one painting, how the light is captured, how the color is captured, how the feel of the scene is captured, the emotions in the brushstrokes. When I photograph I’m trying to achieve the same perfect light as in landscape paintings and I want to get my photographs to the same level of essence and feeling of color as impressionists’ paintings had.
Aspens in Pastel
I’m still experimenting with this technique of multiple exposures over long period of time combined in one image and I like results better and better. I think I’m onto something. Look at this image. Pretty trivial and obvious composition. The first thing to note is that clouds look like they are painted.
Then I looked closely at different elements in the image and liked this technique even more. Here is a fragment of a field on the right:
And here is the tree enlarged:
Both elements look like painted. The road is the only element that remains looking as a photograph. This combination of photographic look and painting look creates quite an interesting effect. I’m eager to start printing this to see how it looks in full detail print.
I’ve been studying time in photography, experimenting with different things for over a year. How to capture time in one image? What if images from multiple times are combined into one? What’s behavior of different moving subjects over time? This requires a lot of patience (which to be honest I’m lacking) keeping camera in exactly one position recording world around it at it changes.
The best part of it is a suspense waiting for images to be processed and see the end result. The worst part is not knowing if any of it will be any good.
So far I have had lots of ideas with little success. Finally, it starts yielding some interesting results. Look at those clouds: don’t you like the painting like look of them? That’s no painting though. It is a lot of images taken over time with camera stationary in the same place on a tripod. Good thing there were no cars on this rural road that gave me enough time to make it.
I’ve wrote about light painting before and I’ll likely write more again as this really fascinates me in photography. For me it is a lot of fun playing with lights, a lot of creativity as I create something that was not there in the first place, and a lot of surprise as most of the time what I get is unexpected.
Here is an image that got me very excited about light painting again. I spent a day photographing fall foliage in Kubota Gardens in Seattle (I’m still working on post-processing those photos). At dusk as it got dark enough for exposures to go up to 30 seconds I started playing with light painting with two waterfalls I found in the gardens.
I found the upper waterfall to be more interesting of the two because it had red leaves caught in the stream and I could get a more dynamic image with foreground and background.
There were two new things I played with this time. First, I brought two different flashlights: one had cool light and the other one had warm light. So, I could do not only light painting but also color painting. The other thing that I played with was focus, shifting focus in the middle of light painting. This created dreamy effect.
For those interested in more technical details here is how I took this image. The camera was on a tripod, aperture wide open (f/4 for the lens that I used), shutter was 30 seconds. It was pretty dark already, my camera was not able to focus just using ambient light. First I would use very powerful warm flashlight. I would point to a rock in the middle of the frame and focused the camera using auto focus. I would turn off auto focus then. Turn off the flashlight, so it does not light up something accidentally, and release shutter. Then quickly with the same powerful warm light I would trace the waterfall and the creek back and forth a few times to ensure that individual spots or streaks of light a now visible. That was taking me about 5 seconds. Then I would turn off flashlight and defocus the lens. The rest of 25 seconds I was using weak cool flashlight to light up sides of the frame while the camera was out of focus. I did this ten times or more, every time getting a different image – I love the element of surprise. This I think is the best out of the series.
A Dream About Water
Finally, the colors of fall foliage is behind us. It is my favorite time of year. For photographers October is like August for farmers – time to collect the harvest. The reason I’m saying “finally” is because I felt burnt out pushing myself too much trying to capture it a s much as possible. For some time I tried to keep up with post-processing but then gave up – I was not getting enough sleep that way. And that was combined with two more art shows that I needed to get ready for.
Now, when fall foliage is almost gone in Pacific Northwest and my last art show of this year is behind me, I can catch up on post-processing, blogging, planning.
For a few months I’ve been fascinated with pastel colors. I like their subdued soft feel. So, this fall I’ve done several images with intent of having pastel colors.
An important thing about photographing color is to be clear that the subject of a photo is color, not individual branches, leaves or trees. To me it means getting rid of all those details in an image.
One technique to do that is to take photos with long exposure handheld and intentionally move camera in some direction. It seems to work the best when moving camera along visually strong lines such as tree trunks or branches.
My family and I have just returned from a week long vacation in a small ocean shore town in an area with intriguing name "The Lost Coast". This is the only section of US Pacific coast that does not have highway 1 following the coast line.
This is probably the only remote place left on the west coast. No cell coverage, no internet for 5 days. And we’ve survived! More than that it was pretty enjoyable. Lots of fun for kids and parents. And a lot of photographic opportunities.
On the way back we stopped in San Francisco for a couple of days where I had fun photographing Golden Gate and Presidio in fog.
I’m just starting to dig thru all the photos I took on the trip. Meanwhile here is an image I made a year ago. A photograph of iconic Golden Gate bridge overlaid with a texture of a rock that I found just about where I took this photo of the bridge.
Golden Gate Post Card
PS I’ll keep posting to my blog from my backlog of photos while I’m digging thru the images from a trip to The Lost Coast.
Just finished watching a documentary on Monet’s life and his art. One of the things that captured my attention was that he closely followed research of a chemist who was doing research on relative perception of color by human. That research in part influenced Monet’s impressionist paintings.
This makes me wonder what research would Monet follow nowadays and what he would do with photography.