Photographic trip does not have to be all about art. It can also be fun.
I’ve just returned from a trip to the Death Valley where I spent several days with a photographer friend photographing at various locations around the valley. It involved a lot of driving and hiking and of course photography. We woke up before sunrise and hiked in the dark to a location to photograph at sunrise every day. We drove quite a bit to remote locations where we photographed sunset, then drove back in the dark.
It sounds very tiresome but it was not because we’d have fun playing photographic jokes on each other, taking silly pictures, sharing and laughing at them. Photographic trip does not have to be all about art. It can also be fun.
I lost myself in the sea of flowers.
I closed my eyes
to let other senses enjoy the scene.
The warm touch of the sun.
The gentle caressing of the breeze.
The soft singing of the birds.
The sweet scent of the spring.
I stood in the sea of flowers in silence.
I wanted to take it all in.
Until I lost myself in the sea of flowers.
Until I became a part of it.
California poppies can be found in Western Washington only along roads. I’ve spotted one of such places along one of freeways while driving my son to gymnastics. The hills was burning orange covered with poppies.
The next morning I woke up a little bit earlier to get to that hill and photograph poppies before work. I parked the car at the nearest parking lot next to a store and walked to that hill. The poppies were as good as the day before – an island of the Nature beauty in the middle of a city.
So, there I was, lying on a ground photographing poppies with cars passing by at a high speed. Here are a few photos I took:
Recently I got a link to a somewhat interesting article Preparation In Fine Art Landscape Photography. While I found it interesting (I do myself lots of the things listed in the article and find them useful), at the same time I thought it is too simplistic and pragmatic.
The most important thing I do in the field is missing from the article’s list: connecting with a landscape. Before I even take my camera out of a bag I spend time observing landscape that surround me – from tiny flowers to tall mountains to high sky up above. What’s interesting in it, how do I feel about it, is it a happy place or a sad place, is it powerful or weak? I spend as much time as I need to feel the things that surround me, walking around or simply sitting. I may even close my eyes and focus on scents or sounds of birds singing or waves crashing onto the shore. Can you imagine that – a photographer with his eyes closed?
Call me naïve and romantic – because quite frankly that who I am – but when I photograph I don’t follow any specific list of steps, I follow my emotions.
Two Trees on a Hill at Sunset
With all the advancements in technology I still find that in a lot of situations it is easier to set exposure and focus manually. It does not mean my camera is broken. The camera simply does not know what I want to photograph. I always have white balance on manual and often use manual focusing. During last trip at some point I’ve also realized that I was fighting with automatic exposure with compensations, and eventually gave up and set it to manual. After that I could do much more and better photographs easier.
This reminds me when back in high school I had completely manual rangefinder camera. Then my parents gave me SLR with a built-in exposure meter as a birthday present. I was relying on it completely… and have not had a single frame with good exposure.
Automatic settings are great for casual photography but when I try to get an image as close as possible to the one in my mind’s eye automatic settings often get in my way.
I admire stormy skies. There is just so much energy, power, emotions in it. Sometimes I just take pictures of such skies. On my last trip to California I saw just that kind of skies, when you can actually see a storm front with a blue sky on one side and wild darkness on the other.
The question that I here the most is where do I get an inspiration. The answer is simple – I don’t get it, I wait for it.
When I’m on a photo trip I start photographing without inspiration, even without clear goal in my mind. I’m photographing and waiting; waiting for that one image after which everything becomes clear. Suddenly, my mind and my soul opens up to the world. I start seeing everything differently. The world becomes part of me and I become part of it.
Here is that photo from my last trip to California. After it I started seeing beyond flowers; seeing lines shapes and light.
What if that doesn’t happen, you may ask. Well, that means I was not in tune with the world was around me. Maybe next time or next place.
Remember the times when we were kids and it was so much fun to run into the middle of a flower field and lye down on your back and look into the sky? I remember it.
The same works very well in photography too: get down to the ground, to flower level and feel the connection. Look at the flowers, breath flower scent filled air, listen to the field.
In the morning the ground is cold and the air is fresh. Dew drops are covering flowers that are still asleep. Air is filled with birds singing.
As the sun gets higher it gets warmer. Flowers open up and flies wake up. Buzzing is all around.
When it gets closer to the dusk the field goes to sleep. It gets quieter and quieter. Flowers close up. Only lonely crickets disturb the stillness.
When I go on a photo trip, my photography starts on a plane. I take my camera out of a bag and start photographing thru airplane window. It is a great way way to jump start my creativity, get into photographic mindset. And sometimes I also get some interesting photographs. Here is a couple of photos I took from the plane on my last trip: