Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. 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 of photography 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.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Imagine The Extraordinary

If someone were to ask me what is the one thing they could do to improve their ability to see photographically I would tell them, "Take an Art Class".  In the world of art you begin to look at the world differently and learn about color, shape, form, perspective, subject, and how all those things work together to create an effective composition.  Artists by nature tend to have a creative intuition about them...that would also include photographers.  There are a number of reasons for that I would suppose, but there are two distinct characteristics that artists have that separates them from others:  They look at the world from a unique perspective, and they use their ability to 'Imagine The Extraordinary'.

Imagine the Extraordinary...just think about what that means.  Well...I suppose it would mean different things to different people based on their personal experiences and insights, but, to me, to Imagine the Extraordinary means to observe beyond the obvious...and to recognize the photographic potential of a moment of light.  It involves not only understanding the technical aspects of the photographic process, but understanding the effects light has on a subject.  It is being able to combine the two, to create a photograph that stirs the imagination.  How to accomplish this involves certain complexities and is open to individual interpretation.  It is a concept that rarely has an end point, but one that is continually improved upon and refined.

I try strive to make this concept the cornerstone of my photographic endeavors...and oddly enough, one in which I rarely feel successful.  I've heard it said that an artist begins with a blank canvas and adds the elements required to create his vision.  A photographer on the other hand, begins with a full canvas, and must remove those elements that interfere with the vision he has for that moment of light.  To accomplish this, a strong understanding of composition is necessary along with a good sixth sense of what to look for.

The most effective compositions are the ones with a built in simplicity...not necessarily a lack of complexity...but where all the elements work toward telling and showing the story you want to convey.  It moves well beyond simply capturing what you being able to see what you want to capture.  The two are rarely the same.  The former infers a mechanical process where the technical quality may indeed be good, but lacks for aesthetic quality.  The latter stretches the photographic potential into a realm where the subject becomes less important, and light takes on greater importance to where it defines the image.

Take some time to visualize those Wow photographs, or even better those Whoa photographs you've seen.  What makes them so incredible?  Think about that for a moment.  Why is it some images powerfully stir our imaginations...when the vast majority of photographs appear...well...ordinary?  If you truly begin to explore that idea, you will find that incredible photographs are created with the emphasis placed less on location (or equipment) and more on the photographer's ability to capture his vision.

Capturing vision becomes more instinctive the more you practice.  Never settle for the ordinary...always seek out the extraordinary.  Look for ways to capture the ordinary in extraordinary ways.  Think of the camera like it is a sculptor's tool...even the finest and sharpest chisel has limited usefulness until it is placed into the hands of a skilled artist.  It is the skill of the sculptor that counts, not the tools he uses.  The artist must understand the tool's ability to carry out his desires.

Most of all...always look for the extraordinary.


1 comment:

Jenn said...

Love this post!!!!! It is something I strive for every time I pick up my camera!