Famous scenes — landscapes, wildlife, buildings — are famous for a reason: they are spectacular, and often easy to access. You have seen these photographs, undoubtedly: a sepia-toned photograph of the Eiffel Tower, perhaps, or a dusty herd of wildebeest in the sun. Glacier Point at sunset, and Mesa Arch at sunrise. These are some of the most incredible sights on the planet, and it is no wonder that photographers flock to them; in many cases, photographers are the very reason that these sights are on the map in the first place. I have nothing against photographers who focus on these beautiful scenes, and I wholeheartedly admire those who photograph them well. Indeed, as photographers, we too often get caught in the idea of taking unique photographs at a famous location, when the most beautiful scene may be the one staring us in the face.
I am getting a little nervous writing articles, seems like it puts a target on your forehead for criticism, some just, some un-warranted. So let me start this article by telling you what I am intending to convey in this article and that is the following: I took a 12 day wildlife trip (self-organized) to Alaska to photograph moose, I have done many self-organized wildlife trips before to other places. When I do these trips, what do I bring and why do I bring it? This is what I bring and what I do, and it works well for me, take from it what might be useful to you and leave behind whatever you find non-informative. After many small trips to shoot wildlife, we have developed a bit of a standard packing and gear list we bring. It changes slightly depending on the trip, but generally we bring three bags, two are camera gear, one is clothes :)
In this third installment to this series on visualization and film photography, I have selected a sample of photographs (mostly made in the 35mm format) to share and discuss. Although I heavily focused on technical aspects in film photography in Part I and Part II of this series, my goal with this article is to provide a more aesthetic description and simplified approach to the construction of photographs. I thought it would be of interest to beginning 35mm photographers to briefly discuss some of the film choices available. Although the choices of film stocks have dwindled over the years, fortunately there remain a plethora of excellent professional and consumer 35mm films from which to choose and enjoy. Even though I have used many – but not all – of the available film stocks, I cannot possibly discuss all of them here. For one particular film stock, I am delighted to share a pair of interviews with more experienced photographers that readers might find interesting and helpful. Of note, Photography Life contributor Vaibhav Tripathi has previously shared his experiences and beautiful photographs made on 35mm with Fuji’s Velvia 50 and Kodak’s Portra stocks in his inspiring photo essays on Acadia National Park, landscape photography, and Waterfalls of New England series that may also be of interest.
If you have read any of my previous articles, then you would know I have two Nikkor super telephoto lenses and I often use them in wildlife photography. I also often mention that reach is important in wildlife photography and getting highly detailed and crisp images. Two of the super telephoto lenses I have are the 600mm f/4 prime and the 800mm f/5.6 prime and they are amazing lenses that give me amazing reach for wildlife, but this reach can also be a problem when multiple eyes are involved (ie: several animals in same frame).
Lets take a look at a nightmare photo to get with a 600mm lens at optimal distance requiring minimal cropping:
In this second installment to this series on visualization and film photography, I have selected two photographs, “Gravida” and “Pyramis” (both architecture), to share and discuss. As in Part I to this series, I will provide a detailed description of the thought process behind the construction of the photographs, the choice of tools, and the technical considerations involved.
As a follow-up to my previous essays on visualization, in this article I will share select photographs made on film with a detailed description of the thought process, the choice of tools, and technical considerations that were involved. I have chosen two starkly different photographs (both landscapes) to discuss. I hope that these photos with the accompanying narrative will prove interesting and helpful to beginning film photographers and perhaps guide more experienced photographers in advanced techniques and approaches. Of note, Photography Life contributors John Bosley, Laura Murray and Vaibhav Tripathi have previously written excellent essays on film photography that may also be of interest.
Exposing to the right, or ETTR, is an approach to photography that is as helpful as it is controversial. On one hand, exposing to the right is yet another technique to remember while shooting, and it can potentially ruin your exposure if utilized incorrectly. On the other hand, at least in theory, ETTR is the epitome of digital exposure. With proper ETTR, your images have as much detail in the shadows as they possibly can, without any of the highlights losing information along the way.
In my recent essay on visualization, I discussed the historical and modern day significance of this concept in photography as well as the role that a composition card serves in bridging the vision in the mind to its tangible realization into an image. In this follow-up essay, I will discuss the interplay of other critical aspects of visualization that accompany, if not transcend, the tangible aspects.
It is evident to me that images can carry and convey truth – small and capital T – and that most people aren’t actually talking about truth when they talk about objectivity and subjectivity. Strong statement, I know, but I think as usual, the people using the Internets simply bring their own ideas and not really paying attention to how writers define their terms.
If you become a student of street photography, the curriculum is littered with advice and maxims on what defines and makes a “good” street photograph; I use the word “littered” intentionally – because much of that curriculum is just that… things that can be tossed out. Within that heritage, I don’t claim to be a master, let alone a division chair or associate professor, or even a teaching assistant. But I am a student, or a ‘disciple’ of the genre if you will – one that realizes that that I will never stop learning the craft, and that beyond the techniques or gear used or the aesthetic of an image I am working to create, the genre is itself as much about a process of self discovery, growth, and expression of who I am as it is about the final “result.” That may sound out of place in a discussion of street photography, but to that end, I want to state that – in this student’s opinion – what matters most in street photography is the choice and act of your presence, and shooting “who you are” in an image. Grab some coffee, as this isn’t going to be another “three essential ways to improve your street photography” kind of article.