This has been a challenging fall personally and business wise, with little time to photograph the foliage this year, and consequently I’ve felt a bit rushed and uninspired lately. Plus the foliage has been a bit duller this year, with spotty locations of brilliance. So when an amazing blue sky showed itself this week, I decided to break all the rules.
Rule number one:
As photographers, we know that the best light usually occurs early at sunrise, and again later at sunset. We often take mid day off from shooting, as it’s too harsh and contrasty. But there are some things that do well with high filtered sun, such as back-lit foliage, particularly against a stunning blue sky.
Rule number two:
Always use a tripod when possible. When shooting the best light, it’s absolutely necessary as we often photograph with a small F-stop, resulting in a slow shutter speed. Also, it really helps to compose the image. It slows down the process, giving you ample time to really see what is in the frame, moving the camera up, down, forward, back etc…to remove this rock, crop that tree, include that grass etc etc.
People say you must take hundreds of pictures to get one. But I don’t. I take very few pictures when I do, BUT I probably move the camera and tripod a dozen times or more, for 20 minutes before settling on the exact composition. Consequently, other than photographing animals that are moving, I have brought/carried and used my tripod for almost every single image I have ever made.
Rule number three:
Bring more than one lens, just in case. This one is self explanatory, as sometimes you can’t move backwards or forwards enough to create the image you want, and another lens is needed.
But THIS day, I arrived home near noon, and looked up at the big old maple in my yard, with it’s gorgeous lemon leaves stretching against a stunningly deep azure sky. It was simply beautiful at that moment. I thought to myself, I should get my camera and tripod, and take a picture of it…..actually, I thought to myself, after taking the picture, I should really get all my photo gear (backpack with camera lenses, tripod etc), jump in the car and seek out some other compositions and places I know. But having only a couple hours available, and with my recent lack of internal inspiration, the whole idea just sounded and felt like work.
But I would at least talk myself into photographing this one beautiful tree in my front yard. So I grabbed my camera with it’s 50mm lens already on (I would usually go wide in a case like this) and stepped outside onto the lawn. A funny thing happened as I held the camera, with the strap around my neck, swinging loosely, with a small single lens, no heavy backpack on, no 3 extra lenses in it, and no tripod slung over my shoulder, or in my hands. How liberating it was. Just to be free with my camera. Those who know me, are aware that I am a bit of a perfectionist. And while this helps me to produce my best work, it can consume my actions.
So with only my camera in hand, feeling this rare newborn freedom, I said to myself “you know what. I’m gonna take just this camera, with just this lens, and no tripod, and go out and shoot around the woods near my house”. And it felt really good to say that. And I suddenly felt a surge of inspiration, excited by the thought of wandering light weighted, able to truly enjoy the walk and the beautiful scenery around me. With the idea that my 50mm lens would be just fine, and create its’ own composition. Simplicity and Ease. And so I went.
I walked through the woods, joyful, light of mind and body. I enjoyed the sun dappled trees, and the multitude of Crayola crayon colors, as the leaves crunched under foot. I found myself stopping often and lying on my back, atop the autumn carpet of gold and rust, looking up through the bright cornucopia of color. I found a magical reflection in a slow moving stream, with the same brilliant colors, only in reverse and rippled by the water. Broken only by a solitary leaf , as I watched and waited for it to gently flow into place (image to come later) Just like my mind and body. And maybe it was me, but the colors seemed to glow and pulsate against the deep blue backdrops of sky and water that day…….Inspired and creative once more:)
So go break the rules. You’ve got nothing to lose.