This week’s guest blogger is Alan Defelice, a member and past president of the Manassas-Warrenton Camera Club.
So you have the best equipment, you have done your homework scouting out the best locations and the times for sunrise and the weather reports, you have checked your settings, you got up at O Dark 30 and have arrived in plenty of time to set up for the best shot of the year. You are completely ready to capture that glorious landscape as the rising sun drapes its golden blanket of light across it….or are you?
You say you have done your homework, but what really have you prepared? The equipment and settings are just a few of the tools to take the shot. Being there is half the battle, but let’s face it losing is half the battle, that is no better than a 50 /50 chance. The weather reports and sunrise times are basic logistics to the preparations. What are you forgetting? What else is not mentioned that perhaps is the most important part to any photograph? You need to be more than physically present to take the photograph….don’t you?
Would an architect show up to his construction site without his blue prints? Surely you have more prepared than a few physical tools and random thoughts of a generalized notion of what the scene will look like and the image you are about to construct. There is more logistically involved than showing up with the right equipment and hoping the moment strikes you and that you react fast enough to capture it with the right techniques. Your homework should include your designs of how you wish to present the image. It is fine to get lucky, but lucky is not a strategy. Everyone has heard the adage: “Luck favors the prepared”. By thinking of options you wish to explore and prioritizing the techniques and determining the time it takes to execute each and the best order of those techniques you wish to use, you maximize your time. By contemplating what the techniques bring to the table (each lends to a specific feel and emotion) you will be properly prepared to photograph your landscape in a way consistent with the story you wish to tell, congruent with the way it makes you feel and in a way that enhances the impact of your image transforming it from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions.
Unless you are shooting in stereo or using techniques to shift color channels, you are shooting in 2 dimensions and trying to capture the depth and rhapsody of a 3 dimensional scene in a 2 dimensional image means you are already handicapped. It is the equivalent of painting a person’s eye with an iris, a pupil and sclera, but no catch light reflection. It will look flat and lifeless. In order to maintain the viewer’s interest and share the impact of the scene, you need to lend your voice to what you see: The You in Your Image. The audience needs to see you and your vision reflected in the piece. That voice gives added dimension to your image. It helps you to connect with your audience, to draw them into your image and make them feel a part of it as opposed to observing from a distance.
Without it, the landscape is just a picture of what happened without them, something someone else saw, and although pretty, it is mute; it has no voice. Listen to your thoughts and feelings and prepare ways to accentuate that voice and create the added dimension that will draw in your audience and keep their attention. If you prepare this in advance and how to execute it before you are presented with the opportunity, you will have a better chance of executing this in the fleeting moments of fickle lighting that can make or break an image. What’s more you will free up your mind for more creativity at the time you are shooting to consider more advanced techniques and compositions because the light is different than you imagined, or because the sudden change of light made you feel something new you now wish to capture. “In short prepare your voice, bring it to what you wish to photograph, and don’t forget to use it.”