People frequently ask me what exactly is fine art photography? Before I answer, I usually take a big breath and brace myself to answer the question in the time it takes to ride a few floors in an elevator as they usually expect a quick answer. And, despite my apprehension to answering their question, I have come to realize that most good answers are the ones that are simple and direct. Hence, I begin by clarifying that fine art photography does indeed have objective criteria despite falling in the subjective and vast realm of art.
One of the things I find fascinating about photography is that it can be approached from a million directions and can mean a million different things to different people. I enjoy talking to other photographers a lot – I find it very interesting to learn what they personally see in this art and what they shoot for (pun intended) with their images. I have a friend who takes photos of kids and families; she has perfected her portrait techniques over many years. I know another photographer whose work you will never see – odd as that may sound, I get it: it is private, it is the imprint of his heart and soul, he prefers to share his art with his immediate circle only.
Utah has never been high on my list of places to visit. Having grown up in an arid, dusty landscape (northern Pakistan), I always gravitated towards greenery and the ocean. A couple of things happened that gradually changed that sentiment. First, as my interest in landscape photography grew, I kept encountering striking images out of Utah (and the Colorado Plateau in general). Then, along came an HBO series called “Westworld”. Shot primarily in that part of the country, the show opened my eyes to some truly stunning high-desert, Mars-red, weirdness-popping out-of-the-Earth scenery. Finally, a flight from Denver to Southern California on a crisp day with clear views of this otherworldly landscape below, provided the push I needed to mobilize and visit this place.
I am a novice photographer. I obtained my first DSLR, the Nikon D3200 in May of 2015. I decided to take at least one picture every day of 2016. Obviously, getting out and practicing every day is bound to make a fledgling amateur improve, but I was surprised at the specific principles I learned along the way, and thought I’d pass them on to any fellow novices thinking about a photo challenge of their own.
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. Contrary to some negative media depictions, it is a clean, beautiful and well-planned city nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. I was born and raised there. I left at the age of 20, when I immigrated to the US. Like all displaced people, my place of birth has a special place in my heart and I try to visit as often as I can.
As I write, I’m looking back on my 36 years as a professional photographer with fondness and gratitude. I chose this profession because I wanted to travel and earn a living while doing so. It’s been an amazing three and a half decades and I’m still excited every time I walk out the door camera in hand. I’m looking forward to the next three decades! I travel in anticipation of serendipitous gifts; the unknown encounter. My camera is my passport to the world – a world I would not have known without that camera.
A few weeks ago, I visited Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera in Barcelona Spain, which in 1984 was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It was the last civil work designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, who was the best-known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. When visiting La Pedrera, I walked onto the stepped roof called “the garden of warriors”; called so because of the chimneys which appear to protect the sky lights, and discovered to my disappointment that due to the size of the crowd and the presence of a fence, I wouldn’t be able to photograph the entire architecture of the roof in a single shot.
Asian photographers who live and work in Asia, and especially in developing countries like Myanmar, don’t often get much attention in the West. This is now beginning to change, but only slowly. One such photographer breaking through is Burma’s most famous all around lensman, Kyaw Kyaw Winn.
Over the last three years, I have been photographing cities with an IR-converted Nikon D80 DSLR while traveling on business trips. I am very fortunate that my job duties involve the administration of international projects, so I travel once or twice per month, mostly in Central Europe, but also in Western and Eastern Europe. Whenever I travel, I try to plan at least a very short window for photographing, even if it is sometimes only 1-2 hours long. In this article, I share some insights after photographing with an IR camera for almost 3 years in roughly 20 European cities.
The Atacama Desert on the Chilean high plateau of Altiplano and the Mauna Kea Summit on the Big Island of Hawaii are generally recognized as the two best places for astronomical observations. However, in this article, I argue that the best place for amateur night sky photography is elsewhere. It is in Hawaii too, but on the Island of Maui. It is the extinct Haleakala volcano. Although smaller than the Mauna Kea volcano, Haleakala might actually be better suited for amateur photographers.