Drawing in Space

In my design studies at university, we had a fascinating sculpture assignment called “Drawing in Space”. We used strips and small blocks of wood to create a sculpture with interesting lines when viewed from any angle. Both the lines and the negative space they defined were equally important. I really enjoyed framing spaces and cutting into volumes of space, and that is something that I don’t get to do quite as much with photography. But when opportunities present themselves, as they did this last week, I get lost in the creating. I’m not sure how long I spent in this particular treasure trove of grass curls. The shallow depth of field I’ve used here really adds to both the ethereal-ness and the depth of the photo, letting you almost feel the space around the grass.




All taken with my 5d, 150mm macro, f6.3, 1/200 – 1/640 of a second.
Taken on the Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park.

If you’re still reading and interested, I’ll just write a quick note about composition. In the last two photos I’ve done something that is generally disapproved of in standard compositions – there is a strong line running vertically through the frame (even directly in the middle of the frame! the horror). In these cases I think it works as an unusual visual device to emphasize the depth of the photo. If the grass curls did not wrap around the vertical line it would not work.

Green

Taken in rainforest of British Columbia. Until we see green outside again, we’ll have to either enjoy photos and memories or the greyscale palette that nature gives us for a few months every year.

Definitions and Desires

I get to meet a lot of photographers. I know photographers who shoot weddings for $400, and I know photographers who shoot weddings for $4000. I know people who only shoot one kind of event or subject, and I know people who will shoot anything. There are a lot of people out there clamoring for any shoot they can get.

I often describe myself as a photographer. I don’t make my entire income from photography, but it is a significant portion. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and there’s a lot of hard work ahead of me. It might seem strange that this month I’ve been turning down paid shoots.

Shoots are bragging rights. Shoots are proof that you really are a photographer. If you have a client, you are a professional. There are a lot of people who want to be a Photographer with a capital P. Photographers, by definition, take photographs for a living. This is so general that it hardly describes any successful photographer I know, but some people seem to want to do anything that involves clicking that shutter. More often, photographers like interacting with people and making them feel good about themselves. Some photographers want to help people remember important events. Some photographers want to travel and share their discoveries with others. Some photographers want to be well known as artists, and photography is their way in. There might be some photographers who just love turning those dials and pressing that button, but that’s not me, and it’s probably not you.

It’s a lot of work figuring out what you love. It takes a lot of experimenting, and a lot of going down the wrong path. Once you find what you love, it takes a lot of work to articulate it. Once you’ve done that, it takes a lot of work and courage to pursue it. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years and a few things have become clear. I love being outdoors. I love playing one color off another, finding a line that curves just the right amount, that leads into the just the right amount of confusion. Creating beauty and adding to the beauty in the world, these are things I care about. (my constantly changing definition of beauty could be another blog post entirely, and I suppose it’s hinted at in every photo I post) I want to find natural scenes that abstractly resonate with our human condition. These goals change over time as I discover more about myself and the world, but they don’t change dramatically. And by knowing these few things, I can continue to enjoy life and photography. And I don’t go chasing after every shoot – I leave them to people who want to make a living doing what they love.

A willow leaf, still green in October, when only the last few yellow poplar leaves are left.

Chaos Photographed

This week has been crazy. My computer, fridge and car died. We’ve had tons of errands to run. I have design work which I’m trying to get to, a chaotic house, and guests staying over. Anna’s candidacy is next week (after which we’re leaving to see my parents), I have a wedding to photograph this weekend (I get to drive a borrowed car for that), and I work at McBain on Friday. We were planning on camping this week. That seems laughable at this point. I have to frame my photos for the VAAA photo competition before Saturday, and for that I need an art store to have cool white matboard in stock.

But good things are happening. I’m looking at getting my photos into another retail location in Edmonton (more to come once that’s finalized). I’m typing this on my shiny new Mac Mini. The Daffodil has been busy selling our photo pendants. Oh, and I had the best ice cream I’ve ever had today — at Kirstin’s Chocolate shop on 112 street — amazing.

This photo is a fairly accurate expression of my current state of mind. Things are in complete chaos around me, but it’s a centered chaos.

Dogbane Explorations

Below are a series of photos exploring a field of Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium). These are all taken from the same place, at the same time of day. As I’m taking photos, I often move from the literal – capturing a scene as one would usually see it (hopefully with a pleasing composition) and move towards the abstract. Often what I’m after is the abstract photo, but sometimes the original, more traditional landscape is the one that wins out when I’m evaluating them afterwards. It often takes me months to discover if I’m happy with a photo or not. And blogging them is part of this process. I blog photos that I initially think are pretty good, and the ones I’m still happy with in a couple months will likely go in my portfolio.




Outnumbered

Another instance of an out-of-place young tree. Is this all my teenage angst coming out photographically later in life? A commentary on the individual thinking they are special? I like to think of this as using the contrast of visual elements to draw the eye’s focus. Or as a note of ecological interest — competing species after a forest fire, and how these fires shape the future of forests. But you can think of it however you like…

This is a balsam poplar in a sea of young jack pine.

Marsh Marigold

Caltha palustris in the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family.

I got quite wet on this hike. Mostly my boots got soaked, but taking pictures like this also requires wet knees (and sometimes elbows). There are days I wish my camera had live view.

Rain Makes Everything Better

Rain quells crowds of tourists. It adds a little sparkle to everything it touches. It softens distant scenes, and adds vibrance to close ones. The only thing I ask is for a dry place to sleep.


Taken near Lake Louise, Alberta.