I’m fascinated with the way reflections in shallow water become very abstract without the context of their surroundings. In most cases I invert the image so that the reflections are shown “right side up.” The result is the look of a double exposure, but all done in a single exposure without any Photoshop tricks.
I’ll never forget taking the evening I took this fine art photograph along California’s Big Sur coastline. Shortly after taking this frame I decided to change the lens on my camera. I had my back to the ocean (never a good idea) as my wife was helping me hold the extra lens. Suddenly her eyes got real big, and her mouth opened to say something. Then we both got soaked from our hips down by a “sneaker wave.” Fortunately no camera equipment got wet but we spent the rest of the evening in wet jeans and squishy shoes.
It could be said that art is simply vision plus craft. The best art is a compelling vision realized through impeccable craft. You need both elements. Visit a museum and look at some of the greatest works on display. You won’t find any sloppy work or unfinished thoughts. The artist is a master of his craft and uses his craft to convey his vision.
That’s true for fine art photography as well. Many people have a “good eye” for composition and timing, but haven’t yet developed their craft skills. The craft of photography happen when you capture the image through exposure, focus and composition. Craft is just as important when processing the image to finesse it to portray the artist’s vision as precisely as possible.
One of the things I really enjoyed in Los Angeles was the opportunity to see great photography at venues like The Annenberg Space for Photography and the Getty Museum. The prints were always beautifully prepared, whether in a darkroom or on a computer. A photo might have uncorrectable defects, but you would never see a flaw that should have been corrected. The crop was always what the artist wanted, the color and density were exact and the image was as sharp as the medium allowed.
Ansel Adams once said “there’s nothing worse than a sharp photo of a fuzzy concept” and I agree with that sentiment. But it’s also sad to see an inspired vision fail to be fully realized from lack of craft and care.
I’m exploring ways to turn simple forest reflections into fine art photographs. The photographic process is really quite simple; start with an interesting reflection and turn the image upside down. That simple step yields some very interesting results that can leave you scratching your head trying to figure out the image.
In this image the sun is coming from the right side where trees are casting shadows across the surface of the swamp. The result is streaks of light and color. Add in some floating leaves and the illusion is quite extraordinary. It looks like a Photoshop trick or a double exposure, but it’s really just a simple image.
I found this little scene while hiking the trails at Congaree National Park in South Carolina. Old growth loblolly pines are one of the attractions of the park so I was looking for a pine cone. I liked this one laying on its bed of pine straw and leaves. At first I was distracted by the one green leaf but the more I looked at it the better I liked the one out-of-place item.