The greatest thing about landscape photography is the many different treatments you can bring to any given subject. A river? A rock formation? Your subject can be spread out or compressed. It may a part of the greater landscape, or it could be the whole story.
The river in the picture below, is only a small part of the “grand landscape”. Just the same this photo would be much weaker without the river. Black Canyon is a beautiful place but the canyon develops both scale, and a sense of place because of that winding river making its journey to infinity.
This is a photo of the Lasalle Mts. in Utah, but the spotlight is on the sandstone rock forms in the middle of this picture. It is about the mountains but it is also about the “big picture” of this valley and it’s rock formations.
I rarely make pictures like the one below. Normally I would either shrink this beautiful western rock form into a bigger picture of the surrounding high desert, or I would focus on the rock detail and not include the entire form. If you never try different things you will always continue to do only what you have done before. I decided to create one image that gives credence to the size of the rock, but features the rock and only the rock in this air tight composition. This is a “big picture” of a “small picture” type landscape.
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” ~Nelson Mandela
I must admit that I continue to change (evolve?) in my appraisal of what is being done currently in the world of nature photography.
The single vertical rock form from today’s shots was made about six years ago with a digital camera. The rest of the images were made on film a long time ago. I can certainly see many of today’s naturescape photographers making similar images with similar comps, with the exception of that photo of the single rock form. Most of these same pictures if they were made today would however be “rolling over” in color as HDR and other image making techniques would be over used to the point where even Ma Nature with her natural art would be a bit embarrassed. I am for everyone making their own distinct artistic statement, I just hope and pray that there will always continue to be someone in this field of photography who can appreciate and interpret nature’s natural beauty. I have no doubt that they can develop the skills to make images that show that beauty…..but will they? There is plenty of room in life for both the outrageous and the subtle. I would hate to see that Utah picture of rock forms and the LaSalle Mts., destroyed in an attempt to add layers of colors that did not exist in reality.
I have added some bird pix (of course) below. The first is just because I enjoy woodpeckers. This Downy is stashing bird seed in a crevice in the wooden cross member of a bird feeding station. This is about three feet from a very busy feeder. I included a shot of a Ruddy Turnstone, both because I love these birds, and because they will soon be returning to this area. For those of you who live here, if you want to get close to Turnstones and other species of shorebirds, try along the shores of Lake Michigan, from the Racine Wind Point Lighthouse south to the golf course parking lot. They will only appear if the water levels are low enough to expose several feet of shoreline. Turnstones, Sanderlings, Dunlins, Semi Palmated Plovers and Spotted Sandpipers usually show up together. Occasionally you will find Willets as well. I used this spot successfully for ten years. I have not been there since 2009, and that was not a good year.
The final shot is the sort of image that I don’t delete from my files, but I don’t share either. Just too busy and confusing to the eye. I am breaking that tradition of not sharing today. This is the only image I have of a female and male Eastern Bluebird together. I came very close to a special picture here but I could not quite pull it off. It does however bring back my memories of this happy couple as they caught little caterpillar after little caterpillar to take into their nesting box and feed their recently hatched babies. I spent over five hours in two days watching them live their lives.
From the late 1980s until around 2009 I pretty much continually gave up the locations of regional places that have been successful for me in the world of nature photography. I have become more guarded in recent years, but there are those of you who I trust, and I am always willing reveal “my spots” to you. Insects, flowers and birds are the main subjects to those special spots.
An example would be Brightendale park in Kenosha, County. Like everyone I have used near-by Bong State Rec, Area for years. Along the shores of the small pond in Brightendale, I have found (numerous times) hundreds of Brown-spotted Yellow-winged Dragonflies just after emerging. A great spot for mating behavior as well. It seems July was the best month, although I believe a couple of flights a year can be expected. Then there is the spot where you enter the lakeshore (fishing bridge, swimming area etc.) parking lot at Bong, and immediately to your left is a small meadow. Park as close as you can. In September and early October this little meadow is covered in dew on a daily (morning) basis. I have found up to two hundred dragonflies absolutely soaked in dew. I have never been able to ID one of these guys because the dew is so heavy. I have also found insect eaters including small snakes and very large spiders here on several occasions.
I could go on and on.
Have an awesome day.