Photography’s Creativity Triad: Motion

Photography’s Creativity Triad Rather than attempting to reproduce a scene exactly as we see it, enduring photographs reveal unseen aspects of our world. Capturing this hidden world requires understanding and mastery of photography’s “creativity triad,” the three aspects of a scene that distinguish the camera’s vision from human vision: motion, light, and depth. Motion: Autumn Spiral The human experience of the world unfolds like…

Up a creek

Many photographers vary their portfolios by visiting as many locations as possible. While I love visiting new locations, I’ve always preferred the kind of intimate familiarity that’s only possible with frequent, quality visits. And as enjoyable as it is photograph the icons, for my personal pleasure I’m most drawn to quiet pastorals and intimate portraits of nature that could be anywhere—wildflowers, fall color, solitary oaks, sparkling reflections, and…

Photographic matchmaking

While everyone loves a pretty scene, I’m afraid our aesthetic sense has been numbed by the continuous assault of “stunning” images online. A picture grabs our eyes on Instagram or Facebook and we reflexively click Like and move on to the next (similarly) stunning image. The photography equivalent of pop music, formula fiction, or (most) network television, these images exit our conscious about as fast as they entered because they fail to make…

Letting motion work for you

Of the many differences between our world and our camera’s world, few are more significant than motion. Image stabilization or (better yet) a tripod will reduce or eliminate or photographer-induced motion, but we often make compromises to stop motion in our scene, sacrificing depth of field or introducing noise to shorten the shutter speed enough to freeze the scene. But what’s wrong with letting the motion work for you? While it’s impossible to duplicate…

Made in the shade

Imagine that you want to send an eight-inch fruitcake to your nephew for Christmas (and forget for a moment that you’ve been come that relative), but only have a six-inch box. You could cut off one end or the other, squish it, or get a bigger box. If the fruitcake represents the light in a scene you want to photograph,  your camera’s narrow dynamic…

Variations on a stream

In my November 4 post, I wrote at length about a recent morning spent photographing a single leaf I found plastered to a rock beside Bridalveil Creek in Yosemite (and my feelings about staged scenes). While my entire shoot that morning was all about one found leaf, it was just the latest in a long succession of focused visits to Bridalveil Creek. Each time…

No leaves were harmed in the making of this image

“Did you put that leaf there?” I’m not sure how many more times I’ll need to answer that question, but let me just say that my answer will never change: No. I feel very strongly that photography needs to be a source of pleasure, and my pleasure from photography comes from discovering beauty in its natural state. But that’s just me—others enjoy staging images…

It’s geek to me

While it would be silly to pretend that digital photography hasn’t changed my photographic life, at heart I’m simply a film shooter with a digital camera. If you read my writings or have attended my workshops, you’ve no doubt heard me say that photography, at any level, must be a source of pleasure. How each of us derives our pleasure varies greatly, from what we shoot,…

Finding order in nature, one leaf at a time

“Did you put that leaf there?”  I’m frequently asked if I positioned a leaf, moved a rock, or “Photoshopped” a moon into an image. My (truthful) answer is always the same: “No.” I suspect I’m asked this so much because I aggressively search for natural elements and patterns to isolate and emphasize–they’re not hard to find if you look. We all know photographers who…