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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Creating Extraordinary Visions Part 3 - Find a Purpose for Your Photography

Great Photography demands the photographer to find a purpose for his photography. What I mean by this is, if you approach photography by always relying on random chance to capture great images, you will seriously handicap your ability to capture extraordinary images. By focusing on a purposeful direction you will greatly enhance your chances of discovering extraordinary opportunities.

Purposeful photography eliminates much of the guess work. It provides a reason for your efforts. These efforts can be pointed in multiple directions at the same time. I start and complete projects all the time. sometimes I will have several projects going at the same time. Projects can run for just about any length of time, from a single day, weekend, a month or longer. My longest running project was a year long effort to photograph one of my favorite locations, Shanty Hollow Lake. It was a difficult challenge but at the same time provided me with some spectacular opportunities and it ran concurrently with other shorter duration projects. All of these provided a measure of focus for what I wanted to accomplish both artisitically and personally.

One of the elements I was able to employ was the concept of always photographing to inspire. Random shooting rarely helps you create or find inspiration. However, random shooting does have its merits in that it might help you discover a purpose. I've actually done this by simply heading out with no real agenda to run across an opportunity that jump started an idea. Once I defined the project purpose, I was able to focus in on specific elements I wanted to accomplish. By doing so, instead of capturing simple snap shots of things I began to look for those moments that creatively defined the intent of the project.

Creating a purpose for your photography will in time stimulate your creative instincts and elevate your photography to higher level.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Creating Extraordinary Visions Pt2 - Change The Way You See the World

In part two of our series of Creating Extraordinary Visions let's take a look at some of the concepts of how we turn what we see visually into the vision we want to create.

Believe you Can Create Extraordinary Visions is an absolute necessity because before you can consistently create visions with extraordinary quality, you must first believe you can. Approaching photography from the perspective of I hope I can...or Let's see what happens...or How does he do that...will erode your confidence. The most successful photographers are the ones who approach their craft with an air of confidence. Without it, you are simply crossing your fingers hoping the conditions will provide an amazing opportunity. With confidence, you can create a vision no matter what the conditions and confidense comes with practice and application of knowledge. Simple knowledge of how to do something does not always equate must put it to practice and develope it. Sometimes it means you must ask yourself another question; What must I do to change the way I see the world?

Changing the way we visually see the world means letting go of some preconceived notions. One of the biggest is to let go of one thing; You do not have to capture a scene exactly the way you see it. Many beginner and even advanced photographers cling to the idea they have to capture what they see exactly the way they see it when in reality, your camera gives you a tremendous advantage in capturing what you see the way you emotionally visualize it. In other words, concentrate less on defining your image the way you see it and concentrate more on defining a feeling or mood.

Capturing a mood or feeling requires that you understand how light changes the dynamics of a photo opportunity. Many novice photographers tend to believe that the object in and of itself is what creates that great image. When we change how we perceive the world and base that perception on light the whole dynamics of what we do and how we do it changes. No longer do we simply see a pretty flower and photograph it. We begin to look at that flower from the perspective of how light can transform it. We begin to visualize how we want our finished image to look and take steps to capture that visualized perception. Every photo opportunity is different and each one requires a slightly different approach, but one trait all great photographers have is they begin with the end product in mind before they ever snap the shutter.

This requires the photographer to look at the elements of quality light...direction, quantity, and visual impact. Simply changing your position can have a profound impact on the quality of the light. Time of day and the direction of the light can turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.

Always remember, Composition becomes the building blocks of your image, but it is the light that gives it drama. Ordinary light creates ordinary images. Dramatic light can turn transform your composition into a work of art. Your in camera settings combined with a few limited post processing tweaks can drastically alter what you see visually into a compelling story filled with drama.