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.
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.
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.
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.