Tools and Techniques….

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We have to recognize that, in any given situation, there can be many ways to see the Landscape, and while sifting this information through our minds, we must decide on a plan of action to best portray our impression, its effect on us, the prevalent mood we are experiencing. A single word can sometimes describe what we are seeing, though we may neglect to identify it. Soft, tenacious, isolated, nostalgic, expansive, peaceful, rhythmic, pristine, powerful, diminutive, minimalist, triumphant, joyous, delicate, oneiric and challenged are just a few. Our inner conversation ensues : I recognize these visual qualities, and sensing this theme, mood or impression, will select and emphasize it with my photographic choices in terms of technical process  Shutterspeed, Aperture, Deth of Field , ISO choice etc..

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Beauty comes from Simplicity…

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We, Photographers are striving for Simplification. We always need to further simplify what is in front of the camera in order to achieve clarity. There are, three main aspects of simplification :

1 – Remove unwanted clutter from the frame : This is a fairly straightforward process : running your eye around the edge of the frame, for instance, to make sure that nothing unwanted breaks the frame and leads the viewer’s eye away from the subject. Do not draw a road for the viewer to escape your message.  Contrariwise, design your image to convey viewer’s eye as in a funnel.

2 – Simplify to make the space more clearly understood, simply to avoid the situation of not being able to see the wood for the trees. Never try to capture two messages in one frame. Select the one you want to express and eliminate all the elements that do not participate in this expression.

3 – Simplify to help concentrate the viewer’s attention on the subject. Hans Hofmann, the painter wrote : » The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak ». Frequently, I see  the potential strength of an image diluted because the photographer lacked the courage to get in closer to his or her subject. Do not hesitate to what seems to impoverish your subject matter. This will result in a stronger image . Strip away all extraneous detail, remove any unnecessary embellishments or adornments. Go to the core subject and erase everything else.

Eliminating unwanted elements can be done by moving the camera from its initial position, framing the subject differently, zooming in, and acting on depth of Field or a mix of all of these. After making your image, always consider another point of view. Never think you have the ultimate capture. Reconsidering the way you’ve composed your image is an excellent exercise and a powerful mean to improve one’s Creativity.

« Confidence like Art, never comes from having all the answers, it comes from being open to all the questions« 

Diogenes Laertius.

Lighting and Landscapes…

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In most landscapes, it is the lighting that draws your attention to the subject matter. You will ignore a scene one day, but be arrested by it the next – because of the lighting ! It’s a good exercice to analyze why the lighting affects you so strongly. On a sunny day, pay special attention to the play of light and shadow, especially to parts highlighted by the sun. As far as I’m concerned, I do not really like these very sunny days. Lights too often squashes textures, because shadows are cast vertically and with intensity. On an overcast day, observe carefully the gradual transitions from one area of brightness to another. Feel the textures, touch the stuff with your eyes and select carefully your focus point. Tonal contrasts are always significant, both in landscapes and in photographs of them. They enhance or diminish the natural design  of the landscape, depending on their placement and intensity.

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Shell the Creative Process…

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While my workshops attendees are making their photographs, very often, I come to them and interrupt them asking this question :  » What do you consider to be the three essential ingredients on your Photography ? ».  For those who are beginners, sure, there no precise answer, for the others, most of the time,  it’s about a subject matter, a good lighting and for the most advanced : a good composition. I admit the question is not an easy one. As far as I’m concerned, my answer is « Simplicity, Emotion and Beauty » because I think a good lighting is a method more than an ending in itself, the same for a « good composition ». balancing an image will maybe result in a simple message but what’s the goal ? Create an Emotion !  There is this quotation from David Ward  I really like :  » It should be stressed that when I make an image, I don’t consult a mental list : have I included ambiguity ? Is this beautiful, is it simple enough ? Passion and instinct take over and it is only afterwards that I ask why an image worked…« 

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