Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Landscape Photography as an Opportunity to Slow Down

I recently had an email conversation with a friend who asked my advice about photographing a particular scene he had come across while hiking. He was frustrated with the photographs he made because he felt like he wasn't able to capture the beauty of what he saw. I admitted that this is actually one of the reasons I do not like landscape photography very much - it seems like I can only make boring landscape photographs. I can relate to the frustration. However, after giving him some suggestions of a few things to try, I came across this blog post by photographer David duChemin. I love this advice from his short blog post:

"Don’t allow yourself to be seduced by your subject matter. A beautiful scene isn’t necessarily a beautiful photograph." He goes on to encourage us: "Instead allow yourself to be seduced by, and fall in love with the light, the moment, and the geometry of the frame."

When I first started really concentrating on photography and learning about light, I felt like the world was new. Potential photographs were everywhere! In other words, I paid attention to how the light fell on things and I noticed the beauty in the things around me everyday. One of my daily prayers now is that I will be more aware of my environment and my surroundings. I don't want to surf through life without taking in all the little beautiful details. I want to find things to love about every moment.

This is one landscape image that I feel did turn out the way I had hoped. I photographed this herd of buffalo hanging out in the fog while traveling through the southern section of Yellowstone park early one morning. The fog was so thick it felt sad and heavy yet peaceful.  
©2011, Leslie McDaniel

What are your frustrations with landscape photography and what tricks or tools have helped you to make the photograph you want?

And finally, how do you make yourself slow down and take in the fleeting moments of your life?


Shay said...

What a beautiful photograph, and a beautiful blog to go with it. Slowing down is so hard, but it seems like that's when the insight always comes, in art, music, spiritual things, and relationships. And we perpetually deprive ourselves of this by not slowing down enough to notice, and I do it over and over again. Intentional savoring, drinking in and meditation is a discipline. It doesn't come naturally for most people, and I haven't mastered it yet, but I hope to! :)

AMANDA GUY said...

Very Cool Leslie! I really like how they just fade into the background. I tend to try and chase fog around the Flathead valley to get that "lost in space" look :) Your work is looking fantastic and it's great to know that we're all working on fun stuff while working for the MAN. haha. Miss you friend.

Leslie McDaniel said...

Thanks for the comments Shay & Amanda! Shay - this is something I'm really trying to work on lately...I don't want to miss a thing! Amanda - thanks! I appreciate your encouraging words! Miss you, too!

Tessa said...

I get really frustrated with the colors and the vastness of the landscape. I feel like everything around me is beautiful but I can't seem to get it to show that way in an image. I have been doing pretty well photographing in the urban landscape just by carrying my camera with me everywhere. It makes you look around more...great post Leslie!

Leslie McDaniel said...

Tessa - thanks! I can tell you are really being inspired by your new environment! Keep it up!

jfelkins said...

Very cool, I get alot more out of a walk when I pay attention to the light. It's just like when I learned to recognize birds by thier song. I became a lot more aware/alive. G

Great post!

Gene said...

I like to think that capturing a great photograph is like telling great a story. Embellish the details a bit here (rule of thirds), leave out certain tidbits (framing), timing (waiting for a cloud to cross the sky), knowing your audience, etc. The more a person practices telling a story, the better they get at it. The more I practice capturing photographs, the better (hopefully) I get at it.