“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Bringing the unknown into the light, exploring what might lie hidden, changing our view of the world around us, these are all aspect of the Kryptomorphaics series.
Here, in Arbor Fugit, I explore the energies that are stored in this powerful weeping willow, its ability to filter and re-radiate the light that it accepts from the Sun. One of the surprising aspects to me was the variety in color cast that came from this wondrous tree.
What do you sense in this image? Does it call out certain things?
This week, we are travelling a bit to the north to touch the arctic circle. Last year, I had the pleasure to spend 4 days in Iceland, which were not nearly enough to take in its beauty, but gave me a taste for more.
For 3 of the 4 days, I stayed in Akureyri, which is on the northern coast of Iceland; it is the second largest population center in Iceland with around 18,000 people. Through AirBnB, I had found a lovely farm where I had a room overlooking a fjord, and wonderful hosts.
I did my exploring in the area around Akureyri and found some amazing sights, such as the Mývatn area, where I found this rather surreal landscape. Lesser known than the Blue Lagoon in southern Iceland, Lake Mývatn is also the beneficiary of a geothermal plant. The light blue hue is due to the rich mineral content of the silica sediment that settles on the bottom; think lots of sulphur!
Over the pass couple of weeks I have covered concepts and techniques, and I promised to do a bit of a deeper dive into what lies beneath the surface of the process of capturing these images.
In terms of photographic technique, the ideas are rather simple and mastered relatively quickly. Most of my personal photography projects tend not to last very long, as quickly I start looking for novel ways to capture and present material; at such a time, I usually put the project aside for at least a year or so, waiting for it to feel fresh again when I go for the next image in a series. This project has been different, in that I have been shooting in this genre for more than 4 years thus far, and it has not felt stale to me yet. As this surprised me somewhat, I started looking into the how and why this project is different.
There are several elements that I uncovered, which make the Kryptomorphaics project different from prior efforts:
I am certain that there are other elements that I may uncover, as I push forward in this project, but these appear to be the drivers at this time.
Discovery – photography is a journey of discovery for just about all of us, who have picked up a camera and started shooting in earnest. This project has afforded me continual discovery through opening up all senses and taking input from all of them in the process of capturing content that is not just visible to the eye. This deeper sense of uncovering this cryptic that lies hidden within the world around us has opened my mind’s eye to further explore these scenes in new directions. These include examination of the scene not only in its current juncture within the space-time continuum, but also past and future lines that may be occupied by the players on stage within the scene. This has opened up some connections that I had hitherto not observed, some of which demonstrate how universal forces flow through the quotidian.
Emotional Connectivity – as I deepened my exploration, part of which included opening up all senses to the environment in which I found myself, I started noticing a sense of emotional connection to what I found within the scene. In a manner, which can be likened to meditation, a more complete sense of the image, as it should be captured, is refined by opening up the senses to subtle emotional triggers. It can be described as opening oneself up to a feeling washing over the entire being and letting that guide the decision making process for how to capture the image. This feeling is more pronounced for certain images that others.
Re-Examination – upon capturing an image, the next thing I do is a taking stock of how it felt to capture the image. I take sensory stock of the image rather than examining it visually (I am not a big fan of chimping, but one could say that this is a sort of sensory chimping). Without looking at the image, I will then make a decision to either shoot the scene with some adjustment, which can be slight or radical, or if it feels just right, I then walk away from it.
I find that the success of the process depends more on my ability to quiet all my senses and open myself up to my surroundings; this is where the simile with mediation extends, as I will use meditation techniques to improve my feel for the environment. In this process, I do not over-analyze how I might be able to capture the feeling that lies before my lens; a couple of rough guesstimates guide my camera settings adjustments, as I let intuition be my guide.
This wraps up this 3-part series on abstract photography, but, fear not! From time to time, I will feature an image from my Kryptomorphaics collection to discuss it in more detail.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this introduction and look forward to hearing what other topics might interest you.
During the same day that I captured the images in yesterday’s post, Another shot of cold, I grabbed the opportunity to catch these leaves backlit by the sun.
I had just finished shooting some shoreline details and was walking back along the water’s edge to climb up the embankment and trudge through the snow. The clouds were beginning to look more interesting, which caused me to look up and notice the small cluster of leaves still attached in this hard winter.
Positioning the leaves in front of the sun gave me exactly the look that spoke to me, with a bit of drama in the clouds and the structure of tree from above. The way it is presented here is without any touchup in postprocessing, as I like the little bit of warmth that flows forth in this mostly black&white image.
I captured this with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII using an EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II. The settings I used were a bit unusual, as I wanted a shallow depth of field, so I used f5.6 at 1/8000 second (probably the first time I’ve ever used that shutter speed).
I was not happy with this shot, but knew that there was something in these leaves that needed to be told. So, I wound up combining zoom blur and a bit of twist to get the effect that I was looking for.
In post processing, I did adjust the levels and dropped a bit of saturation to push the color palette a bit more toward the redder end of the spectrum.
Thanks to all of you who checked this out and particularly those who put forth their guesses.
In my earlier post, I talked a bit about finding a nice frozen waterfall to photograph, which was a blast. In case you thought that to be an isolated incident, let me set you straight with a couple of images from a tour of beaches on the Massachusetts Northshore and Southern New Hampshire.
These are from the end of January, 2015, on a day that was windy and raw, as you can see from the waves crashing on boulders at the beach. Luckily, I was dressed for this with warm boots, ski pants and sufficient layers to keep me comfortable.
Most of the day was pretty much overcast, which left the light rather flat…
But in the afternoon, the sun started showing itself a bit more, which provided wonderful opportunity to photograph some of the more interesting pieces on the beach.
I wholeheartedly recommend going out on cold days to explore places that most people only visit when it’s warm.
Over this past weekend, New England has been under siege by a cold front that has kept all, but the hardiest souls in-doors; Sunday morning the mercury dropped to -15F (-26C), which was downright chilly.
Regardless of this, Winter is one of my favorite seasons to photograph, as there is always such greate emotional content to be found. I did go out to do a bit of photography, as I was looking into waterfalls in the area, so I thought it might be worthwhile to go check one out in this weather.
The particular waterfall I sought out is Doane’s Falls in Royalston, Massachusetts, which is about an hour’s drive for me. When I arrived there, I found the falls very close to the road, which is rather considerate at these temperatures. It’s a bit of an experience walking down a snow-covered, icy path next to a roaring stream, when you are all by yourself… a trifle unnerving, but luckily there were safety wires by the edge of the rocks.
In the image, you can see the massive amount of ice that has built up in the cascades; I’m not sure what the cause of the discoloration in the ice is, as I didn’t get close enough to find out.
I shot this with my trusty Canon EOS 5D MkIII using a 24-105 f/4 L lens with a circular polarizing filter attached. Settings were f/7.1, 1/640 second at 400 ISO. I kept the speed high, as I didn’t have a great spot for setting up my tripod (I did carry it in).