Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Attracts You in the First Place

I am a nature and wildlife photographer. This means that I go to the wilderness to photograph. There are many different ways a nature photographer approaches and interacts with her subject; but for me, it is all about the place. It is not a specific scene or type of bird that I look to photograph, rather it is the soul of that place that I attempt to capture. This takes time and lots of visits to that place.

When I go to a place, usually in my canoe, I spend much time examining my surroundings without using the camera. I get attracted to something and approach it from different angles to study the variations of lighting that alter the appearance. I stop and look at something for a very long time and try to figure out what it is about this view that attracts me. I drift along in my canoe and pay attention to how the sun light interacts with the plants and the water. I look for both intimate and wide scenes.

One day, I was paddling east along a water trail as the sun began to rise over the horizon ahead of me. Disturbing the water were hundreds of tiny yellow flowers, blooms of the bladderwort plant that takes root in the water. The flowers stood above the water like tiny little skaters performing on ice as the water was very calm. I was immediately attracted to them and wanted to capture the scene. But how? I paddled around them, looking at front lit and back lit figures. I tried to find a cluster of isolated flowers and create a negative space composition. Finally, I staked out the canoe and settled in to the scene. I gently rocked the boat and added ripples to the water just to see what might happen. Here's what happened.

Behind me, the warm glow of the sun cast upon the mangroves that lined the creek. Their red roots were brilliantly lit and irresistible. With a long lens, I filled the frame with the luscious mangroves and their reflections.

I continued paddling and enjoyed the beautiful morning light on the grasses standing tall in the water. A cluster of them caught my eye as the light bathed them in a warm glow. Several of the grass shoots were bent, creating triangular shapes. The sharp geometry of the organic material appealed to me. I set up the tripod in the water, attached the long lens and composed several images.

As the morning wore on, the mood of the place changed. The sun became harsher; but at last, there were clouds in the sky. What a brilliant day! Thick periphyton covered the water completely and this seemed so amazing to me under the wide sky. How can one place have so many interesting characteristics? Chase the light and you will find them.