Speaking of Driving…

Drove to Hozomeen Campground last weekend, which is on Ross Lake just south of the US-Canadian border. There is no access from the south on the US side, so you have to drive into Canada and then 40 miles south on a gravel road to get to the campsite. A beautiful, fun drive, but my tire didn’t enjoy it as much. Luckily, Canadians are kind and they fixed my tire for free. Made it home without any more flat tires.

Well... crap.
Well… crap.

Encouraging Exhaustive Exploration

Do you ever feel like every single one of your photographs has been done before and done better?  This feeling usually comes about once you get past the beginner stage and start looking at lots of work by other photographers.  It feels bad, but it’s a good thing because it will push you towards creating better, more unique work.

I recently visited Victoria, BC and my hotel was near the Parliament Buildings.  This was fortunate because I was able to take pictures there at all different times of day and from lots of different angles.  It’s easy especially on vacation to simply take the first shot that appeals to you and call it a day.  Zoom lenses are particularly good at enabling this kind of behavior.  The Parliament Buildings are beautiful and I wanted to make sure I didn’t settle on a  couple of boring pictures from obvious viewpoints taken at noon.

I don’t know about you, but my brain often works against me so I have to trick it into doing what’s best for me.  Some of the ways I forced myself to explore my photographic options were:

  • Use a prime lens – the only prime I had with me was a 50mm, which is equivalent to a 75mm when mounted on my DSLR and 75mm is far from ideal for capturing architecture.  However, bad is good when you’re trying to spark creativity.
  • Use film and digital – I didn’t get any film shots here, but I carried a film camera around with me.  The point here is to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
  • Pay attention to the light – it’s always changing and the way you use the light can make or break your shot.
  • Pay attention to the people – some people want their vacation photos to be completely devoid of other people, but that desire can lead to boring pictures.  People can add emotion and a sense of scale.  If you want an idealized view of a location, there are postcards available in the giftshop.  If the location is crowded, show us the crowd.  Take a picture of the dad balancing precariously over a ledge to get a shot of his kids.  Take a picture of the bully photographer who just has to set up their tripod right in front of you.  Don’t rule anything out.
  • Walk, don’t drive – there’s not always a choice on this, but walking always results in better pictures

I’ve included some of my favorite shots of the Parliament buildings below.  Some are fairly standard, but I think I got a decent variety of angles and times of day.

Do you have any tips of your own for how to completely explore a photographic subject?  Any links to galleries where you’ve taken lots of different photos of the same subject are more than welcome.  If there’s enough participation, maybe I’ll even write a follow-up and share my favorite examples.

5 Photos I Like III

It’s time for another installment of “5 Photos I Like”.  Let’s get started.

Bivouac à Saint-Auban - color version
Bivouac à Saint-Auban - color version, by Remy SAGLIER

Everyone has their own idea of where the line should be drawn in terms of post-processing, but it generally comes down to the final result (except in the field of photojournalism, but that’s a whole different story).  All of the components of this photo come together nicely for me.  I love the contrast of the well-lit storm cloud and the almost silhouette of the foreground tree.  The gradient filter applied to darken the top of the photo goes a little far in my opinion, but it helps balance out the darkness at the bottom of the shot and adds drama to the storm.

X, by Daniel Kulinski

I have a soft spot for car photos, but having been to several car shows I know how hard it can be to take good photos while being surrounded by so much sexy sheet-metal.  Photography is often about what we leave out and this shot of a Mustang is a perfect example of this.  The Mustang is an icon, so a full-body shot of it wouldn’t be that interesting.  Instead, this photo shows a few interesting details and just enough background to figure out the rest of the story.

Autumn Spectrum 10/10/10
Autumn Spectrum 10/10/10, by Mr. Dale

My photography tends more towards candid and found shots, but I can appreciate constructions such as this one.  It’s a very clever use of collected maple leaves and it demonstrates what we photographers love so much about the fall.  This isn’t a criticism of the photo, but it feels like the arrow should be pointing to the right.  I’m certain that the arrow is pointing that way for a reason, and any thoughts about it are welcome.

A Solitary Path
A Solitary Path, by Andrew Ferguson

Another Canadian photo, strange…  It looks like some post-processing was done to reduce the saturation, but either way the limited color pallet of the photo is gorgeous.  I also like the receding streetlamps and the unusual perspective.

Impending Doom (Explored)
Impending Doom, pasukaru76

Not only do I have a soft spot for cars, I also have a soft spot for Star Wars and Legos.  Nice positioning of the Lego men here, since they have pretty limited movement.