The Edge of Light

Taken at Panther Falls about a month ago as the sun was coming up. For the curious, there were no color alterations done to this photo – just boosted the shadows a bit and took down the highlights to even out the exposure. This is a good example of different white balances in one photo. It can be a huge problem when photographing people, or it can look really awesome to get some complimentary colours in nature photos from an otherwise pretty colourless scene.

Art of the Day

Some people feel really strongly about this, so here it is – this is photo art (as opposed to a photograph). I don’t normally do a lot of processing on my photos (except in previously mentioned dust nightmares). This one felt like it needed a little more to take it a little further from reality. Because really who wants to look at slimy seaweed? So I played with the colors a bit. Honestly this is still less processing than you see in any fashion shoot, magazine cover, etc.
My goal (and the goal of most artists) is to create beauty, not to use any one process, be it film, photoshop, or paint.

Taken on China Beach, Vancouver Island last summer.

And the original. Hopefully this doesn’t ruin the above for everyone.

Harvest Moon

Shots of the moon are hard to get. With a wide angle lens, the moon is a dot in the sky. With a telephoto, you have to make sure your exposure is short enough – the moon actually moves pretty fast. While keeping your exposure short, you still want enough depth of field to keep some detail in the foreground. If the moon is exposed correctly, everything else is too dark, and if everything else is exposed correctly, the moon is completely blown out (although both of these can look good). And then you have the whole chromatic aberration problem unless you have an amazingly expensive lens, because the scene is so high contrast. So I’ve never shown these before. These are not the sharpest photos in the world – I didn’t have the highest quality telephoto lens at the time. But I’m pretty happy with them too. They have a great feeling to them. This was at Cooking Lake Natural Area last year the night of the harvest moon.

Contrasting Colors and Texture

I’m thinking of trying to post a photo (almost) every day here. Apologies to the facebook people I’m spamming with this. Hopefully a significant number of you will enjoy it.

I decided to look back through some of my old stuff today, which is always interesting. I’m happy to report that the percentage of my photos I actually like has gone up over the years. This is one of the first photos I took on a digital camera – it’s from my old Canon A60 point and shoot. Taken in Crowsnest Pass, AB.

Lack of Inspiration

Sometimes a place just doesn’t talk to me. I’m never sure in these cases whether I’m just having an off day, or if the place is just not photogenic. Maybe the light is not matching up with the subjects I’m thinking of, maybe things are great but I just can’t see them. I still take photos, and work that much harder to try to get a good photo, but in the end I still feel let down. Ironically, some of my better images come from these outings, but I usually don’t find them until I’ve had a chance to distance myself from the experience.

Last week I went out to Ministik Bird Sanctuary. I’ve been there a few times before, but this time I tried a new access point (it is a pretty huge area) recommended to me by a friend. I had a good hike, but struggled with the photos. As it turns out, you don’t have to be inspired to take photos.

Finding Peaceful Spots

People seem a little out of place in the forest. We make trails to have a place that is not quite so wild and easier to navigate. We rush to complete a loop, or reach a destination. I find it very different to pick my way through an unknown forest to no particular destination. You can go 10 feet or 10 miles, there’s not much difference. There’s variety on every scale, from the moss to the trees to the elevation of the land. It’s always a little jarring to run into other people when I’m in this environment.

One of the benefits of doing craft sales is that I get to talk with people who enjoy similar activities. At Kaleido, I talked with a lady who pointed me to a couple new spots that I haven’t been to before. They’re out of the way, not many people know about them, and of course they are beautiful. I like sharing places I discover, because I think we’re better off when we’re more aware of and connected to nature. But when other people confide in me with their favorite spots, I feel it’s not my place to let the world know – I’ll let them do that. I went to one of these places a few days ago, and these photos are the result.

Liars, Cheats and Thieves

I have a few photos in a photo exhibit at the Artery (9535 Jasper Ave) entitled “Liars, Cheats and Thieves”. It should be a fantastic exhibit with many extremely talented photographers submitting pieces. It opens on Friday September 24, 5pm to 10pm, and I’m very excited to see it all.

Edit: This has now ended.

Up in the Air

Being suspended above the ground is a strange experience. It’s even stranger when two thin pieces of metal are all that’s holding you there. I got to fly a plane for the first time this last week. I’ve flown in passenger jets before, but having control of a little tin can of a plane is very odd.

A friend from Vancouver flew into town last week right in front of all the forest fire smoke. He has his own little Cessna 150 which was built in the ’60s. It’s a tiny little two seater – the smallest plane Cessna makes. We took a little trip out to Cooking Lake and tried some stalls and spins over the lake (which were pretty scary), and of course I took a few photos (which was pretty fun).

These first two are of Cooking Lake from the air (or maybe more accurately – Cooking Mud Flats).

We filled in gas in Cooking Lake.

It was pretty smoky around Edmonton from the forest fires in BC.

Lying and Cheating

If you’re not editing your photos, you’re lazy or misguided. There – I said it.

I’m tired of people claiming “purity of image” or “truth” in an unedited photo. The moment you take a picture you are interpreting the scene – if you’re trying for truth, you’re a long way off. You choose the framing, you choose the lighting (yes even in natural light), you choose the angle, and you choose which pictures you show to people. If you’re a photographer, you are already interpreting – just possibly not enough to make any point.

If you don’t think you are interpreting a scene, I would like to hear from you. What are you doing? You are already limiting my view to a tiny window, and taking away all my other senses.

If you are trying to interpret a scene, why would you stop editing the moment it leaves your camera? You’re missing out on an opportunity to share your perspective. You could get rid of distracting elements that take away from your idea. You could add distracting elements if obfuscation is your goal. You think you made a perfect image that perfectly conveys your perspective? Possible, but chances are it could be clear, more compelling, and possibly more truthful – and you’re too lazy to do it. It is not cheating to use a different medium in a work of art.

Whether the point you are making is representing something truthful or not is a completely separate issue, and a hard one for many photographers. It depends a lot on the kind of photography you do. This has been a very hard question for me to answer in the past but its getting easier: I’m leaning more and more towards this not mattering. I am not seeking to represent truth. I’m seeking to represent beauty, loneliness, verdant life, desolation, quietness, grandeur – the list goes on and on. I’m not sure truth is something even to be considered in art photography. I’m more interested in the way the eye moves across a photo, the emotional responses it evokes, and the interplay of light and subject. I’m even occasionally interested in an analytical response.

If you dislike editing, fair enough. There are things you can do in the camera to create great photos, and many great photographers have done little post processing (although this is more rare than you might think). But to take an image that almost says something, and to not give it that final push is criminal. I’ve seen too many almost good photos in my life. Why would putting work into a piece of art be looked down upon? I can’t understand this.

So please edit your photos. I would like to see your perspective on life and truth. Some people will hate you for it, but I will be eternally grateful.

ps. For the record – I don’t do much editing on my photos, but I think I’m going to start to do more. I’m trying not to be so lazy myself.

OK, so I haven’t been posting much for ages. That’s at least partly due to my work on Travels and (it’s a good excuse anyway). It now has all the travel information and photos that my previous exploration section had, and is much better in many ways. There are still tons of things I’m planning to add, but you can already sign up and list your own places there, and browse everything – hopefully it’s much easier to find places.

So there you go. The exploration section is now gone for good. Check out Travels and Trails for the replacement.