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, November 1, 2016

Nbr 3 - What I like About This Shot - Canoe on Shanty Hollow

Canoe On Shanty Hollow

There are ordinary days, ordinary moments, and ordinary endeavors. Our lives are filled with them most of the time. Even photographers tend to find themselves, in spite of out best efforts, sometimes trapped within a bubble of mediocrity creating ordinary images...until, as if guided by an invisible hand, we stumble onto a magical uplifting moment, one where all the instincts within us surface to create something extraordinary.

One of the concepts I try to promote is the idea of how to jump start creative photographic instincts. An easy way to do so is to begin a long term project and then focus your efforts toward fulfilling its purpose. Several years ago I started one of the most ambitious photographic projects I ever attempted. I wanted to capture a single location spread out over a full year. Doing so would allow me to fully explore all the aesthetic beauty found within its boundaries. The project I started was to photograph a nearby lake, Shanty Hollow, and attempt to capture its flavor in as many ways as I could. Some of the best images I've ever taken happened as a result of that year long effort. It was a challenge, yet it was also one of the most rewarding challenges. This image, Canoe On Shanty Hollow, was one of the best from that series and one of my all time favorites.

Shanty Hollow is a perfect lake for canoeing or kayaking. It's relatively small yet large enough one can spend an entire morning, afternoon, or a full day exploring is numerous coves, scenic beauty, and wildlife. There are hiking trails, a waterfall, and yes of course the lake itself. It offered an almost endless array of opportunity.

It was August 2011 and the long muggy summer was starting to wind toward the early days of fall. The days were still summer hot, but the mornings were cool and that almost always generated a layer of fog across the surface of the lake. Perfect for photography. On this day, I struggled to crawl out of bed well before sun up so I could make the 40 minute drive and have time to unload the canoe then paddle to the upper end of the lake so I could catch the sun as it started to rise behind the rolling tree covered hills that outlined the backside.

As I expected a layer of fog drifted across the surface as not a breath of air stirred a single ripple. As the sky began to grow lighter I positioned the front of the canoe to face the sun, waited for the water stirred by the paddle to calm, and began to snap images. The fog lifted a few yards into the air and hovered over the edge of the ridge. Behind the ridge, the sun was trying to climb but remained obscured. In its obscurity a perfect scene came to life as the fog began to glow and reflect off the perfectly calm water. I lined up this shot and when I released the shutter, I knew I had captured a winner.

Why I like this image...Well, not sure I have room here to fully convey its impact. The technical aspects of the image are pleasing...the symmetry, the lighting, the overall flavor of the image by themselves make this an easy image to like. But there is more to this picture than the visual elements. I like this image mostly because of the peaceful story it conveys. When viewing it, one understands why this moment was important, indeed, it is the sort of image that portrays the meaning of place and time. You can hear the silence, feel the peace, breathe the freshness, and sense the restorative powers of being alone with nature. There is no finer moment than greeting an extraordinary day while riding suspended above haunting waters.


1 comment:

Maryellen said...

Keith, this is absolutely one of my favorites! I mainly kayak and the only thing better for this image would be that I was the one who experienced it! Thanks for making the effort and for sharing some of God's most magnificent moments captured in time.