Stuggling for a new perspective
Professional photographers - that is, photographers who make a living from their photography - consistently tell me people who want to buy or license or display my photos are not interested in the story of how they are made. The amount of effort or time or expense needed to make an image is irrelevant to them; all that's important is whether the image will be effective where used. I understand. They are busy people who have thousands of images thrust upon them weekly, from which they must retrieve those few truly useful for their needs. A poor picture is just that regardless of the sweat required to make it; a great photo possibly the snapshot of a moment. Still, I think where the photographer fought to get the shot because it had such an emotional impact the effort does come through and the image would be less without it. As examples I urge you to search out and look at the Pulitzer Prize images.
I've talked about this image on my blog (melmannphoto.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/blazing-photography-trails) so I won't repeat the story of my efforts to make it here. Suffice to say I'm not good at pre-visualization but this image resulted from my doing just that, knowing what I ought to get when the conditions (light, weather) were what I wanted them to be, seen from a specific location. Mostly, though, it's an image attempting to capture the emotion of the moment when everything came together.
Light playing across mountainsides is magic to me as it brightens some areas and darkens others, revealing the definition of the slope, rocks and vegetation. The right light, pointing out features and bringing depth to an image, enables a photographer to think like a painter, pointing out certain features with brilliance or outlining others with the negative space of shadows. And where the two contrasts meet - light and dark - defining lines and shapes intrinsic to the landscape. Light playing across a seemingly static landscape can take your breath away at the beauty of the location.
By the way clouds were sweeping across the sun it was obvious there was potential for such a scene once I reached the spot where I decided to shoot. But would the fickle wind place the clouds where I needed, allowing the sun to spotlight the island, sandbar and cliff faces while keeping the other elements in the dark as a background canvas? Frustration and joy are the landscape photographer's devils and angels. The inability to make the light do what you want means long moments watching, waiting, stamping feet and clenching fists in resentment at the spirits preventing you from simply getting the composition you want. But then, as you see what you envisioned starting to emerge in the scene before you, all those negative emotions turn to rapture as you revel in the creation you have been waiting on. Will it materialize complete as you've seen it in your mind? Will some elements be out of place? Will you accept only 80% of what you want or wait for the 100% complete scene? Are conditions getting better or worse? Am I in the right place?
Wait, look, it's all coming together! That shaft of light is moving right into place on the mountainside, the shadows around it taking their position to envelop their assigned spots. The wind is picking up nicely and whitecaps forming on the wavelets around the island. The sun is penetrating the water enough to bring out the deep blue color that complements the sky and clouds. Finally a beam of sun spills down onto the island, just wide enough to spotlight the trees while leaving the surrounding lake somewhat darker. Another ray glances on the white beach behind while a small streak touches the peak of the mountain to brighten the edge against the sky.
Wow, it looks just like I expected, a marvelous symphony of wind, water, light, rock and foliage. What a great place to be and to enjoy and to capture so it can be shared with others. It's the perspective I wanted, worthy of the struggle to find and capture it.
Perhaps it is just another photo to many, one to be glanced at and moved aside. For me it's a memory of a place and time and effort that merged into a creation of my own.
Everyone loves to look at a beautiful photo, that's true.
But, in my my opinion, it is the story behind the photo that makes it priceless.
As I read through your words, your photograph came alive and I was suddenly there watching the "marvelous symphony of wind, water, light, rock and foliage."
Thank you, not only for the photograph, but for the wonderful description.
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