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.

F-4 Phantom

F-4 Phantom
F-4 Phantom

Monday, July 25, 2016

Creating Extraordinary Visions

Recently I was asked to give a condensed version of a photography workshop (How to See Photographically) I presented several times a few years ago. The new version turned out to be  a new presentation reworked from the original and was called Creating Extraordinary Visions. Its focus was to simply touch on the concept of what it takes to consistently create extraordinary photographs. It was more inspirational than instructional in nature although a few ideas did find their way into the program. Over the next several blog posts in a multi-part presentation I want to share bits and pieces about Creating Extraordinary Visions with you the readers. Hopefully, you will find some inspiration along the way.

It All Begins With Light

Creating extraordinary visions begins with light, for you see Light in all of its moods is what transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. As photographers, that is what we do...We Transform Light! We also see what others do not see. We develop an uncanny ability to look beyond what is visually in front of us and see into the potential of the moment, because photography is indeed 90% seeing and 10% photographing. 

The 10% is important no doubt. It is the instinctive part of photography where we grasp the difference between what makes a great exposure and simply capturing a visual xerox image of what we see. It is where we understand all of the mechanics of photography; shutter speed, aperture, ISO, White Balance, depth of field, composition, and so on...and the relationships between all of those components. It is where we understand how the camera is going to react to a given lighting condition and then have the ability to use that understanding to capture a scene the way we want it to look as opposed to always simply capturing what we see. But, photography is 90% seeing and this is one of the most difficult aspects of the art for most to fully grasp.

The art of seeing begins with light. Some years ago I read a statement by a world class photographer, Jack Dykinga, that altered my understanding of who I was as a photographer. What he said was, "Cameras and lenses are simply tools we use to capture our unique vision....Concentrate on equipment, and you will take technically good photographs. But, concentrate on seeing lights magic colors and your images will stir the soul."

Think about those words for a moment. Lights magic colors....Images that stir the soul....Unique vision. After reading Jacks statement all those years ago, I for the first time began to realize what photography was all about. It isn't about the object or the equipment...It is about creating a vision based on light. What you photograph is less important than how you photograph it. When you look at the potential photographic solution from the context of light, your whole perspective of what you do is changed. Light then becomes the driving force behind all of your images. From the dynamic grandeur of the Grand Canyon to the simple beauty of a single blade of grass...light is what defines how the image is received visually and the way you approach taking the image is dictated by the quality of the light.

There will come a point in time if you continue to pursue photography toward a high level of accomplishment, you will need to ask yourself two questions.

1.  Am I a picture taker of things?
2.  Do I consider myself to be an artist?

You see, the Picture Taker captures images believing it is the camera and/or the object itself being photographed that creates the great image. Rarely does the picture taker take into consideration the quality of the light and is usually satisfied with a photo as long as it is technically good. His motto is; I have a good camera therefore I take good pictures.

On the other hand, The Artist uses Light to bring his images to life and approaches his craft from the context
of light from the very beginning. He can take the most simple of objects using basic equipment and turn it into a work of art that will indeed stir the soul. He spends less time trying to define the object as he visually sees it, and instead attempts to create a feeling or mood. He begins the process by visualizing what the end result will be before he ever points the camera.

Creating Extraordinary Visions begins with understanding this basic concept about photography. 

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