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.
This mornings dawn brought with it a lingering fog and the fresh air that only comes from an overnight rain. It has been some time since I have ventured out to perceive the world through the lenses of my camera. Too long really, and while work and other commitments are the culprit, I can confess that the imposed break has been good.
I might well have referred to this image as the “Return of the Muse”. I have been quite busy with the office part of photography setting up the logistics for two workshops and have just neglected the joyful, and simple, pursuit of making images. You cannot predict when the muse will appear and in many instances it is when you least expect it.
Let me state the obvious, from a photographers perspective, that it is important to always carry a camera. I do whether I shoot or not as being prepared is a 100 percent proposition in my way of thinking. When light happens and you are without the tools, well you get the idea.
Iceland is a country of immense beauty. In my mind it is one of the most diverse landscapes in the world despite being and island country. It is volcanic and glaciated and it is these singular natural forces that have largely shaped the landscape. From windswept volcanic planes, to the mountainous highlands, fjords, coastlines, glaciers, and myriad rivers and waterfalls, it is a place that presents one with so many photographic opportunities. The islands location in the Northern hemisphere also brings almost continuous light, with an extended twilight in the summer, and much shorter days in the winter, which affords one the opportunity to see the dancing Northern Lights. It is also a place of extremes, especially regarding the weather, which can change hour by hour. And in fact that is the old adage in Iceland that if you don’t like the weather, just give it an hour. The countries population of around 360,000 is out numbered by the sheep, and the number of visitors and tourists who flock there. The sheep of course are permanent residents. It is one of my favorite places on this planet.
Let me start by saying that I do not intend for this post to be a giant primer on long exposure image making. Nor is it a justification for the techniques over a more traditional approach to capturing a scene. A great deal of my current landscape or architectural work is not specifically long exposure. But in the right conditions - environmental and type of light - I appreciate how it can bring a kind of hyper clarity to the subject that is uniquely contrasted against the soft rendering of sky and water.