I love rich colors in my fine art landscape photographs and this one hits all of my hot buttons. I’m especially drawn to the color contrast of warm reds and oranges against the cool blue tones in the sky, and this scene adds the dark greens of the goldenrod in the foreground.
Currently I have work at shows in Chicago and Oregon, but it’s always exciting to prepare new work. I’m currently working on prints for an upcoming show at Studios on Sheridan in Peoria, Illinois. This will be a small group show also featuring work by Jamie Shirley, Don Rosser and Cyndi Merrill.
I’m in the process of putting together a couple of presentations about using perspective in photography, both for my class at Illinois Central College and also for presentation to the Peoria Camera Club.
There are four basic photographic controls; exposure, focus, color and perspective. Perspective is the primary and most powerful tool for creating your composition, and it’s the only one that doesn’t have an “auto” mode on your camera. It includes where you place the camera and what focal length lens you choose. Should you get close with a wide angle lens, or stand back and use a telephoto? How do you want the foreground to relate to the background? Perspective also involves decisions about framing the scene in the camera, and cropping the image in post processing.
Simply changing perspective can move a photo from ho-hum to dynamic. Unlike other photographic controls that the camera can manage, the perspective you choose is all up to you.
Fine art photography is always about “pretty pictures.” Sometimes it’s intended to make you wonder about the image and its story.
Time of day can be one of the most important factors in determining the success of a photo. Consider the photo of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The photo was taken just after sunrise. The wonderful orange glow is from the sunlight reflecting off of the orange rocks below the arch. The end result is an image that appeals to my desire to use strong forms and colors to create a fine art photograph.
Now consider this photo of the same location. The angle of view is a little different, but the biggest difference is the lighting. This photo was taken in the middle of the afternoon when the face of the arch was fully illuminated by the sun. It’s a “nice” picture, but it sure lacks the impact of the sunrise photo. It obviously doesn’t have the dramatic color that the arch exhibits at sunrise. The other problem is that the light is very flat and there aren’t many shadows to define the texture. In particular, look at the cliff face and rock formations visible in the distance through the opening of the arch. Without shadows, you can’t see the shapes.