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

Friday, December 27, 2013

Capturing Rural Kentucky

Rural Kentucky just may be one of the most enduring charms that reflect the nature of this state. There are so many variations on that theme a photographer could spend a lifetime chasing all them. Travel down almost any back road and before long one of those iconic scenes rolls into view. Time it with the best light or seasonal conditions and a wonderful opportunity to capture something amazing will make your time out and about well worth the effort. 

About a month ago I managed to rediscover an area located just a few minutes drive from my home. How and why I managed to pass up this location over the years I can only wonder, but it did not take long to see the merits of the scenic value that presented itself. 

Capturing Rural Kentucky requires a rustic artist mentality. The photo mechanics are the same, but visualizing the shot first is most important. Oddly enough, I tend to look at rural Kentucky from a black and white perspective. The captured images may be in color and have their own strengths and impact, to truly capture that nostalgic sense of what the area holds, you have to look beyond the distraction of color, and see it as a black and white image. 

The sky is most important and in most cases needs some kind of texture and of course clouds are what provide that texture. A flat gray sky by itself is rather…well flat and gray and provides little impact to the scene in most instances. That can be overcome by using the values of other elements in the scene to fill in the sky. By changing your camera angle to fill the sky with a tree or a grain silo or something different can break up the bland nature of a gray sky. Another trick is to keep the sky element to a minimum by cropping the shot to create a suedo-panaramic effect. This technique can produce a wonderfully nostalgic look to you shots.   

If by chance you have clouds…and almost any kind of clouds with texture will work…you now have an opportunity to include the sky as part of the rustic scene. By using a polarizer filter you not only reduce glare, but darken the sky to add a dramatic look that can enhance the effect of the shot.  

When thinking in black and white, I often think in terms of sepia tone or at least something in that regard to give the image an old time look. Often what appears like an ordinary rural scene that we simply ignore most of the time can be transformed into a throw back rustic style image that carries an amazing amount of charm. 

Rural Kentucky is one of those almost never ending supply of photo opportunity that those of us living here should take more advantage of. With a simple change of light, season, time of day, or camera angle, one location can be captured in multiple ways…all of them exhibiting a unique flavor of Kentucky. 


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