A week ago I went to Olympic National Park for what seems like hundreds or thousands time. And still love it. Even more and more. It is like meeting a good old friend.
This time I realized that with variety of scenes and eco systems the best description of it is that it starts with the ocean of water and spans to the ocean of clouds.
“Decisive moment” coined by the great Henri Cartier-Bresson many years ago has become a cliché phrase in photography. For many years I misunderstood it though. I thought it was about getting lucky, being in the right moment at the right time, scouting around until I happened to see something unusual. Looking back at those times put a smile on my face. Such naïve and too literal interpretation of that phrase it was.
By now I’ve found many more different interpretations of it. One of them is to find the right place and wait for the right moment to happen. As Jay Maisel once said “find a stage and the actors will show up” (or something along those lines).
On my recent trip to Carrizo Plain I found a field of flowers. Maybe it is not the right way to say it. I did not really search for it. It was so popular, it was hard to miss. Lot of cars were parked near it and lots of people were enjoying looking at it or going into the field to take selfies.
What I found was a few areas stomped out in the field that lined up into imaginary trail going into the field. I took a few images of the trail but something was missing. The trail was going to no destination. There was nothing to capture the eye at the end of the trail.
So, I waited. And waited some more. People were milling about. And I was waiting. Until I saw a woman in a bright red jacket going into the field. She was not following my imaginary trail. She was walking across the field. That was just as fine. All I needed to do at that point was to wait some more until she lined up with where my imaginary trail would take her.
When she lined up I took a few fast shots to make sure I capture different phases of her body movement to choose the most appealing later during editing. The end result is below.
As I mentioned in my previous post I’m working thru backlog of photographs. When stuck I’m printing and living with the prints for awhile. Let them sink in and see them in the new light.
There are a couple more observation I have made during this process.
First observation is that what looks better on the screen is not necessarily what looks good. All the images that I was leaning toward while viewing on the screen ultimately did not make the cut after printing.
Second observation is that what does not look like a winner on the screen might produce a fantastic print. I did not like the image below. It looked too busy on the screen. I printed it anyway because I wanted to see how it looks in print. The print looks fantastic: there is mystery and space in it.
Last weekend my friends and I went with our kids to Shi-Shi beach for a one night backpacking trip. It is by far one of the most beautiful beaches of Olympic National Park. It is remote and thus less crowded on a nice sunny weekend than other beaches.
The photographic jewels of the beach are massive conglomerates of sea stacks on both north (where the trail comes to the beach) and south end (the farther end). The one on the south end even has its own name Point of Arches.
As I said it is a quite remote beach and involves a lot of driving to the trail head. With several traffic jams and need to stop for kids’ lunch, permits, etc. we got to the trail head close to sunset.
We did march the trail head at impressive pace and got down to the beach just before the sunset. As we walked out to the beach (the north end) I turned around and saw this beautiful light with mist separating sea stacks. I had to make a photo of it. Setting up camp can wait a little. I did not even think about taking backpack off. I just wanted to make this photo.
In seconds the light was gone and everything turned into gray nothingness. The sunset itself did not work out as sun hid behind thick grey cloud on horizon. The next day was uneventful too. I’m so glad I made this one photo.
Last week I went to Mt Rainier. I was hoping for flowers in alpine meadows. I had visited Mt Rainier 3 weeks before that and it was still covered in snow. Thus I though last week the flowers should be at peak. It turned out that they were way past peak. It is an unusual year for Mt Rainier flowers. It seems that even during peak there were few flowers and the peak itself was short lived.
No flowers – not problem. There is always something interesting to photograph.
I had always been fascinated by thin grass floating in Mt Rainier lakes. They are an interesting subject for abstracts.
many infinite number of ways to see the same thing. There are many infinite number of angles to look at the same things.
One of the popular photographic spots to visit in the Palouse is a fence completely made out of rusty remains of wheels. There are all kind of wheels in it dating to who knows how old.
A few years ago I went to photograph the fence too. (Hey, after a few years I’ve finally got around to write about it). I’ve started with the classic shot of fence going into the distance.
Then I’ve started looking at all kind of shapes in the fence. It was fascinating. Hay here are only spikes left from the wheel. It looks like the Sun to me. So, I’ve looked at it from very low angle, because the Sun should be in the sky.
The I’ve started looking at what can be seen thru the fence. Here is only rim left from the wheel (it might even matched the spikes above). It frames very nicely the nice white building behind the fence.
The point is: look at any scene and find as many images as possible in it.
This year’s art fair season has started for me with Best of Northwest Spring Show. And for tens or hundreds time I’ve learnt that I don’t know what images would sell. I don’t know what images would not sell either.
Sometimes I show an image for the first time and it immediately sells. I’m excited and print one more and I keep showing it over and over again and nobody buys it anymore. Other times I show image on many art fairs and nobody buys it. I’m ready to give up – this image will never sell. Then suddenly someone buys it.
The only thing I know is that in order for image to sell the buyer needs to have a personal connection with it: a memory, a dream, an inspiration.
I have emotional connection with all the images I bring to an art fair. They are the best of my best from my point of view. But that point of view is skewed by my experiences. I’m not a detached viewer of any of them. I’m a participant in each of them.
There is an infinite number of ways to interpret that same scene, the same photo, the same subject. The interpretation very much depends on my emotional state.
My photographs are more a reflection of me than a capture of reality. This sounds cliché but it is true. I’m very much surprised but this myself.
Naturally my emotional state changes over time and images that used to speak to me seem to be silent now. The opposite is true. Sometimes I find gems in images long forgotten.
The changes of my emotions even change the way I interpret images in post processing. Look at these two images. The exact same scene the almost exact same photo.
First one is the image I captured. It is dark and grey. It is an image of depression, being lost with no way out.</p
Then the image after processing. When I process images I rarely have a plan; I’m exploring letting it take me wherever it wants to take me, looking for something that resonate with me. In this case I ended up with an image of hope.
Light makes a big difference. That statement is so broad it’s laughable. Of cause light makes a big difference. It makes such profound difference between night and day.
I’m not speaking of sick dramatic differences though. I’m taking about much subtle differences in light. Such as a small break in clouds putting a short light on a landscape moving slowly but surely across landscape changing it in am infinite sequence of variations.
And I’m awe struck following it making photos in is wake.
Once the light show is over the lull and monotony of flat light comes back. Till next time…
What do you think about when you hear Hawaii? Sun shine? Blue sky? Sandy beaches? Palm trees? Lush green tropical forest?
It is all that but it is also restless dramatic and unpredictable. That is when you get away from sandy beaches with clear skies.