Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. 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 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 Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What I like About This Shot....

Over the next few weeks, from time to time, I am going to share some ideas about certain pictures I've managed to take and why I like them. Every picture I have ever kept I kept for a reason. Usually there was something unique about it, or circumstances surrounding them were unique. I am all the time trying to explain a picture to someone who may or may not have much reason to care or want to know such details. Guess it is sort of like a car buff who just can't stop talking tech about his hot rod.

Here is a photo I took a few years ago of a farming friend of mine. Always thought he carried himself well,
distinguished, yet down to earth, humble, yet proud of his contributions to...well...the rest of us. We timed the shoot perfectly as the day was covered with low hanging, dark, clouds with lots of texture. I asked him to drive his tractor out to the field so we could use it as a prop. You know, a tractor, the kind I think of anyway is something you can park inside a typical garage. As it turned out he wheeled out this piece of machinery that was the size of my first house...and that was just his mid-sized tractor.

Even so, it added so much to the story, without it, the image would have just been of someone standing in a field. The dark clouds full of texture really added a great deal of drama. The image would not have been the same without those clouds. At the time I only had one speedlight, and it by itself was not going to do the job, so I brought the big gun studio lights with a small softbox attached. I used two lights both powered by a homemade power supply consisting of a lawnmower battery and a power converter. Worked like a charm.

My approach was to take one of those larger than life images. My friend is rather tall at about 6' 4" or so, so I wanted to take advantage of his height. I framed him with the tractor in background with its lights on, against that dark ominous sky. Farmers and weather tend to have this love hate relationship...the weather sometimes makes their life difficult, and sometimes it provides an ideal situation that produces bumper crops. When its good, they love it...when its bad...well, I can only imagine the difficulties they must endure.

Anyway...as far as why I like this picture...simply stated, it captures the symbolic nature of farmer vs weather and how both of them must work together to grow the crops we as a nation depend on. He, standing firm and resolute, maybe even a bit defiant. The weather doing what it always does, friend or foe. The way the clouds appear to be racing across the sky...indeed they were...portrays the volatile nature of the farmer/weather relationship. The overall look of the image, being dark and moody, reflects the struggle farmers must endure every season. Images like these are not always easy to construct...sometimes they just happen, and sometimes you just lucky. For this particular image, well, I knew what I wanted, I just got lucky how the weather cooperated with those desires.

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