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 on a blanket under a summer sky...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. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Take a Closer Look

Not to long ago I was able to touch a part of the finer things in life one fall morning by participating in three of my five favorite things to do; float with my canoe down a backwoods stream; do a little fishing; and photograph nature.  It was a beautiful fall morning and in time I stowed the fishing rod and began to wade through the cool stream waters with tripod and camera in hand.

As light filtered through the canopy of trees my eye drifted away from the stream and into the woods.  It was there I discovered a dwelling of nature where time, place, and light converged.  On any other morning this area is just a group of trees, but on this morning, it became a woods enchanted with life and mystery.

There was an old tree trunk that long ago fell from its heights into the creek.  Now, years later, it was covered with lichen and moss, it became a wonderful backdrop for a nature photographer. A spider web was caught by a beam of sunlight and remnants of the morning haze was set aglow as the beams of light drifted through the trees.

Nature has a subtle way of demonstrating its unique qualities.  That old trunk now in its final stages of life exhibited a gracefulness and dignity only nature can command.  Maybe we could learn something from such things...that in all stages of life, there is beauty and wonder, grace and dignity, if only we could step away from our narrow world views and look at things from a different perspective.

Being a photographer is all about looking for light...but its more than that...it's also about looking for and finding unique opportunities from ordinary situations....about discovering wonder and simplicity in the midst of chaos.  It is during those transitional times when the light changes that the most magic light occurs.  Timing is the key...willingness to observe is the mechanism...being there to capture the moment is the reward.

The diversity of nature may surprise us if we stop and observe closely enough.  Photography presents us with opportunities to witness more closely subtle events that we more often than not simply overlook.  Things we take for granted take on a new life when viewed from the perspective of a photographers eye.  A thistle is just another field plant until the light catches it just right and one takes a closer look.  Often, all it takes is a simple perspective shift to reveal hidden beauty...even in a weed.

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