From Sunday morning in the Bangor Forest… can’t resist this type of photograph, and the snow in the cool shadows on the ground contrasted wonderfully with the evergreens and warm sunlight to create a beautiful color palette.
Regular visitors to my blog already know how much I like this type of photograph, though it has been quite a while since I last posted one. Moving the camera in a vertical direction while the shutter is open for about half a second creates a blend of the shapes, colors, and light within the frame that I kinda dig. I saw this little scene near the Beech Cliffs Trail parking lot, and couldn’t resist applying this technique to see what I could come up with. The fall foliage colors were in full swing, and I liked the way the side light was hitting the tree trunks. Not everyone’s cup of tea… but I like it, and that’s what counts around here!
I have always been intrigued by what you can do with a camera, but in retrospect, I think much of my early interest was merely in the recording of a particular moment. Usually it was an event… a birthday, a family gathering, or maybe a pretty scene from a vacation, and the camera provided a mechanical – yet always magical – method of doing so. I would point the camera and press the shutter… sometimes I ended up liking what I got, and sometimes I didn’t, but there was usually little to no thought put into why I was making a particular photograph.
I realize that am a little late in life coming to appreciate this whole artistic thing and how it relates to photography, and although I am struggling to put into words what I am trying to say, I think what I have learned is that I make photographs… for me… to satisfy my desire to be creative.
I have to admit I enjoy learning about the technical operation of the camera, and I also enjoy physically being in pretty places when nature is at her best and putting on a show. I have undoubtedly been influenced by admiring the work of other photographers, but I try not to blatantly copy their work, choosing instead to be inspired to use the camera as a tool to create something that is mine… something that is personal. With that in mind, here’s one that doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional mold… but it is all mine and I like it, and isn’t that what matters 🙂
Regular readers of this blog know that I am intrigued by images like the one posted above. I first saw this type of image created by William Neill in his “Impressions of Light” series, and I was immediately drawn in by them. Moving the camera through a scene as the shutter is open creates what to me is a mystical impression of the landscape before me. William Neill’s work in this style inspired me to try it for myself, and even though I am borrowing his style, I still consider every image that I make in this way to be mine alone.
Depending on how long the shutter is open, the direction and speed of movement applied to the camera, and the arrangement of elements included in the scene… every exposure using this method is unique. Perhaps it is that desire to make something of my own that draws me to his type of photograph? Made in a wooded area behind the local high school during winter, this is an image that holds my interest, and one that I really enjoy.
I love making this type of image. On the one hand I get to experiment and channel my inner artist to create something that is unique and personal, yet on the other hand the technique used is so simple that anyone can make this kind of image.
Similar to traditional landscape photography, choosing what to include in the composition and where each element is placed within the frame in relation to each other is key… as of course is the quality of light. I look for compositions where moving the camera through the scene will define and accentuate shapes, shadows, colors and lines. To me there is almost a painterly feel to these impressionistic scenes, and in some there is a luminosity and glow when the elements all blend together. Trees are a favorite subject of mine for this style of image, and in the one above I returned to a favorite place.
The path leading from the Nature Center past the Wild Gardens of Acadia and toward the Jesup Trail takes you by some beautiful tall grasses and several stands of birch trees that, in the right light, are absolutely spectacular. I choose a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds and let the camera select the corresponding aperture that it thinks will render a correct exposure. I then pan the camera in a vertical movement while the shutter is open, check the histogram to make any necessary exposure adjustments, and then go to work on trying to capture a scene that I like.
The images below were all created using a similar technique – each was captured on a wonderful hike to Bubble Rock earlier on this same day. As I wandered along the trail, the fresh spring leaves on the canopy were being backlit by the morning sun, and the intense greens contrasting with the rain-soaked earthy browns of the trees and trail made for some striking opportunities.
I think a big part of what I like about this style of photography is that every time the shutter is pressed the result is different. I can make a dozen images of exactly the same scene, and depending on the speed and direction of movement employed, each will be unique. Though I realize that these images are not everyone’s cup of tea, I am intrigued by them and that’s what matters most 🙂
Most of my images in this genre to date have been landscape oriented, but when I saw this scene I knew it was a prime candidate for applying this technique in a portrait orientation.
The leaves strewn across the forest floor added an element of color to the scene that I hoped would provide an interesting foreground, and the lines offered by the tree trunks would hopefully hold the viewer’s interest compositionally. The vertical shape of the image I think also accentuates the lines.
Though I realize that not everyone will like this type of image, I personally enjoy the color palette and find it very pleasing to the eye.
In the second image, I was drawn not only to the large tree in the foreground with the vertical patterns on the bark, but also to the layers of trees that you can see in the background.
As we wandered along the trail, the light would periodically break through the canopy of the forest, and at this time of year the sun is fairly low in the sky offering pretty dramatic side-lighting on the tree trunks. The shadows and highlights on the tree trunks add depth to this image that is crucial to its impact.
I love how the colors and shapes blend together while still maintaining enough of their original form to allow the viewer to understand what they are looking at. I enjoy how what are often complex and cluttered scenes become simplified and distilled to basic elements.