Not that long ago I wrote a blog post where I discussed the “return of the muse” as it related to my own making and crafting of an image. For many of us who ply away at this craft we call photography, and especially if we have done so for a long time, the muse can and does leave us at times. When I was much younger this loss of creative force was a hand-wringing affair and I was certain each time it happened that it would never return. To be honest if had not returned it would not have been the total end of the world. Life does go on and cares not for such impetuous thoughts.
I had a recent conversation with a friend over the subject of composition, and how specifically do I compose my images. It is not exactly a soup question, not easily quantified or simplified into bullet points, and is a subject that leads very quickly down a deep rabbit hole. Without going into a lengthy diatribe I think this image may quickly point to what I look for in an image. Simply stated it I look for the light first and then I compose - or better yet, shape - the image around it. This simple structure takes on a different meaning in the way the side-light and shadows create the depth and dimension. Working quickly off the tripod I created a series of “sketch” images to determine the position of the other elements, from the road, to the clouds, and even where the darks and lights would go to create the figure-ground separation of tones.
It has been awhile since I have had the opportunity to sit down and process some new work. I just finished up my 2019 Spring in the West Virginia Highlands Workshop and now heading into the last few months before the Iceland Workshop. I have already begun the planning for 2020 and 2021 Workshops which promise to be exciting options including a return to Iceland, and a foray to Scotland and Portugal. So, stay tuned for those announcements.
I visited an old friend today. The Red Barn, as I have come to name this place, is a location that I have photographed on many occasions and in all kinds of light. The morning light in the Spring and early part of the Summer is the most dramatic as the rising sun illuminates the south-east face of the barn, arguably and fortuitously, one of the more interesting sides to photograph. At this time of the year the owners allow the fields around the barn to go to seed and the clover and grasses grown to around waist height. The resulting textures create a very strong foreground element and I love how the barn seems to nestle into its footers as the grasses embrace it.
It is only a month away from my 2019 West Virginia Photography Workshop, details HERE, and I managed to get away for a short one-day trip up to Canaan Valley for a meeting and the chance to scout a few locations. Spring rains often bring heavy flows to the waterfalls but not on this morning which is not the end of the world and actually allowed me to work on some different compositions. When you have photographed a place extensively it can be easy to get lazy with the compositions instead of stopping to really look at the possibilities - specifically new possibilities.
As I write this post I am emerging from a self imposed break from photography. It is necessary I have found to help recharge the creative batteries. My grandmother once told me that too much of a good thing was, well it’s too much. I certainly did not understand that as a child as I just wanted all that fun to keep going. This is not to say that I don’t like a lot of good things as an adult, but when all of the adult pressures mount up it is hard to retain the necessary focus.
For me photography is a lot more than just taking the image. It is more than just the camera, the equipment, and the lenses. What I have come to realize in the last few months, and in fact through all of the past few years of experimentation, is that I love the craft of not only taking the image but bringing it to life through an artful process. To that extent I have rekindled my love for the digital darkroom, much in the way I loved the analog days of film processing and making the print.