Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heartsongs Revisited

This blog post started writing itself at 4 AM this morning while I was trying to sleep... I had all of these ideas dancing about in my head and just had to get up and start writing them down. It's probably partly because I stayed up late last night to participate in David DuChemin's first Twitter hang out, a fun and frenzied online meet up of photographers sharing their thoughts in 140 characters or less.

David always seems to be able to put into words what I feel about the photographic process, but he says it far more eloquently than I could even begin to. His books are packed with insight and advice to help photographers find and recognize their own vision, and to express that vision in their photographs. That's something I try and teach my students, especially those looking for the "Secret Recipe" to great photos. That recipe is inside you, the secret is to slow down, to really see, and to make the work your own. Put aside rules and self doubts, get out there and shoot and shoot and shoot, until the song in your heart is visible in your photos. This isn't a quick process, and failure is part of it, but you'll learn as much from your failures as you will from your successes.

Digital photography is a three part process. First, there is vision. No one sees the world just as you do, your vision is unique and is shaped by your life experiences. The second part of the process is capturing the image, how you compose, the equipment you use, and how you handle the light. The third component is your post-processing, how will you take that digital file, fine tune it and make it reflect your vision? All three of these elements come into play each and every time you make a photo. Think of this as your Rule of Thirds, instead of that other Rule of Thirds (don't get me started on compositional rules, lol).

I shot the photo at the top of this post last week on a shoot at the Olson House in Cushing. It's a place I have visited many times, I find it inspiring and I feel a strong connection to the house. I have made some images I liked there, but this photograph finally tells the story I wanted to tell. This is the image I had in my head, my vision. The light was softly diffused by early morning fog, and I used my 24-70mm lens to get the composition I wanted. I used my Nik filters in post-processing to take the image exactly where I wanted it. Each part of the process contributed to this final image, this heartsong.

So, grab your camera, get out there and make your own heartsongs. Send me a link to your photos, I'd love to see what you come up with.

Happy shooting!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Working it!

If you have taken one of my online photography classes or done any shooting with me, you know that I always advise photographers to work their subjects. By this I mean really looking at a subject, photographing it from different angles, using a variety of focal lengths and lenses, with different techniques, etc. I took my own advice while shooting a couple of lupine fields last week.

Lupine is a June flowering plant here in Maine, it grows wild along our roadsides and highways, as well as filling yards and gardens in many locations. My friend Zoe and I spent some time in a patch overlooking the sea here in Harpswell just before sunset. The warm light was beautiful and very flattering to the flowers.

 Another field I visited was on the side of the road in Cushing. This field had an amazing variety of colors, and the foggy overcast day was perfect for making flower photos. I started with a plain view of part of the field, nice but a little boring. So, I started playing with camera movement, and had lots of fun!

 Lupine is also a great subject for the Shooting Through technique. All you need to do is choose a long lens (I used my 70-200mm), set at the largest aperture your lens has. Position yourself so that you have plant material right up close to the end of the lens, and shoot through it, focusing on a flower in the distance. I love this technique.

I even photographed my friend Alan with this method!

So, get out there and work your subjects, and don't forget to have some fun while you are shooting! :)