Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out in a hammock...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Kentucky Skies

Kentucky Skies

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cross Training

I stood in the middle of the railroad tracks casting hurried glances towards the sky. Whenever I would look
away even for a short time and then gaze again toward the sky it seemed to have undergone a dramatic change. The thick overcast was beginning to split apart and the upper currents of air were pushing and forming the remnants into elongated rolled cylinders. What I hoped would happen was for the setting sun to fill those formations with a golden hue, but where the sun hovered the clouds were too thick for any such magic to happen. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can impart some magic of your own with a few simple tweaks and settings.

I call it 'Jumping Light'. It's not a term you will find in any photography text book, just something I made up a couple years ago while experimenting with the white balance settings. I do that a lot; try something just to see what happens. Pushing the WB toward the upper end of the Kelvin scale I artificially forced the sky and clouds to look as though a golden hue was indeed being cast across their rolling forms.

I do not always know what I will discover when I head out. No amount of planning ahead can always guarantee the results you hope for. More often than not, the light doesn't cooperate so I have to adapt. The important thing here is to get out and there are times regardless of the conditions that I just have to get out and try. I have discovered that by diversifying what I do photographically opens up a lot of opportunities that might otherwise not be fulfilled. I know a lot of good photographers. They are very good at what they do, but tend to shy away from photo opportunities that do not fall inside their comfort bubbles. Just like cross training in sports helps the athlete to achieve a higher standard of fitness, cross training in photography can achieve the same kind of results for the photographer.

From location portraits I've learned the importance of expression, light, and timing. Landscapes and scenics
have taught me about how to identify what is really important. From nature and wildlife I've learned to be more patient and exacting. Night photography has helped me read drama and story into a composition. From astrophotography I've learned to anticipate the extraordinary and to look for what is not always seen. From working events I've learned how to operate at a fast pace and make quick instinctive adjustments. Black and white has shown me the importance of shape, form, and texture. Floral's have helped me discover subtle details and how to apply light to enhance those details. Video has taught me about angles, steadiness of hand, and continuity. Cross training your photography will in time generate a stronger overall performance that will show up in all forms of your photographic pursuits.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Country Roads - A Great Place to Climb Out of a Rut

There are times when I find it difficult to discover something new locally to photograph. It  happens more

often than I would like, but it also serves a good purpose by forcing me to look beyond my normal range. It is easy to fall into a rut and become dissatisfied with my results, but again it also serves to as motivation to seek out something fresh and rewarding. Often it is simply a matter of waiting for good light or different light on old subject matter. Sometimes it requires me to find a new subject altogether. Once the need arises to seek out something new, one of the best places to find it is along a country road.

Country roads are one of my favorite photographic haunts. Kentucky is blessed with an abundance of winding and random flowing back roads with hundreds of old barns and ponds and other rural paraphernalia. Each of them adds a unique flavor to the landscape and how one observes this unique landscape is how one will photograph it.

Light is still the key ingredient so simply photographing what you see will only produce snap shots of the landscape. I often will spend the middle of the day driving along a new country road simply looking for potential locations taking note of where the sun will rise or set, are there any valley's or low areas where fog will collect, is there a clear view of the horizon or sky, what is actually important in what I am observing and how best can it be captured. This kind of approach helps to simplify your approach and narrow down the time and place to attempt a capture.

Country roads; and great place to climb out of a rut.