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.

The Dark Horse Region

The Dark Horse Region
A View into the center of the Milky Way

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Adventure Side of Photography

Photography is an adventure no matter how you approach it. In fact if you approach it as an adventure, it does not matter where you are or what you are doing, opportunities can appear out of no where. That's the adventure part of it; you never know what to expect. Being ready is the most difficult part because those opportunities can and do often quickly disappear. Actually, approaching photography from an adventure aspect increases its appeal all the more. What better way to experience the highs and lows associated with any given adventure than to be able to capture it as it happens. A few years ago my fishing partners and I managed to schedule a few days for a much anticipated and needed float trip that proved the merit of approaching the craft as an adventure.

If I remember correctly, that was the 'Legend of Skull Bluff' trip where I managed to tumble out of my canoe as I was pushed by a determined wind and strong current into a rather annoying sweeper that effectively lived up to its name. As a result, my camera gear was drenched which pretty well ended my picture taking for the remainder of the trip. (Fortunately it was insured so it proved more of an inconvenience than a disaster). Before the drenching I managed to take some good photos, one in particular proved to be rather exciting. It was another one of those adventure trips we had made many times before, most of which were uneventful. This one proved to be otherwise.

We were on a four or five day float trip, depending on how fast we decided to travel the 60 miles or so down to the take out at Gilbert on Arkansas' Buffalo National Scenic River. We experienced just about every kind of weather you can have, except snow, and it came close to doing that as well. From perfect blue sky upper 70's, to chilly 50's and blustery, to high winds, to a woolly bugger lightning storm that blew in with ominous clouds followed by a significant temperature drop into the upper 30's and rain, we endured it all during those few days.

The image shown above became one of those snap adventure moments. My floating partners were just ahead of me as I rounded a bend when the scene unfolded. The white bark of the river birch trees glowed silvery against the pale green background. Its gnarled and crooked branches pierced through the olive greenery and, combined with the overcast skies, to create an ancient Jurassic landscape appearance. My floating partners spun their canoe and began to cross over from left to right lining themselves up to cut through a shallow set if riffles. Their position in the composition became critical to the success of the image. I grabbed my camera and framed the image instinctively firing off the shot. The resulting image captured the essence of our multi-day float trip. That is what approaching photography as an adventure can do for you.

Sitting on a shelf inside a book case are several albums I prefer to call 'Bragging Books'. They are filled with hundreds of snapshot photos from fishing and hunting trips, to canoeing and hiking trips. Few if any of them possess any kind of quality to them, but the memories they capture speak of moments shared with friends across several decades. On those occasions when I was able to bring to bare my higher quality camera and lens, well some of the images stand apart as not only captured moments, but captured expressions of nature at its best.

Sometimes the composition simply appears in front of you. When that happens it becomes a scramble to extract the camera and proper lens, set the exposure, frame the composition, and catch the moment before it fades away. Talk about an adventure. It is perhaps one of the most difficult kinds of photography, capturing those snap moments you recognize as unique quality examples. Too often I have missed the moment. All it takes is for a cloud to drift to far in one direction, a beam of light hitting the trees just right to fade, or a too quick decision with the camera and you end up with a blurred product, to ruin your efforts. It is a challenge at times to remain alert to what spontaneously presents itself, but it makes you a better spontaneous photographer. Seeing is 90% of the battle when it comes to photography. Learning how to see spontaneously requires you practise at it. Approaching your photography from the aspect of it being an adventure will provide opportunities for plenty of such practise.

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