Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finding Some Color in the Midst of Winter

click on image to enlarge

     For many of us, winter can be a difficult time to find the sort of images we like to add to our photographic portfolios. But, over the years, I've learned to approach the winter months with an eye that focuses more on color,  than on only content. The flowers of summer are all gone, and the colored leaves of the fall season have long since fallen, but the environment around us is still dotted with wonderful color and hues. The truth is that color photographs are just that.....Color. Unless you're into black and white photography, you and I need some degree of color to make  our photos interesting and compelling to our viewers. However, that can be a daunting task during the winter season.

     As this winter began, I had set my sights on SNOW. My plan was to attack the season with wonderful images of Cardinals in the snow, and long horned bucks standing amidst the snow covered pines. In my mind, I had settled on my images for this winter, but as luck would have it, no snow. None ! So, I had to find another path to my winter photographs, and it wasn't going to involve a snowmobile or sled. 

     I happen to be one of those photographers, who uses previsualization to achieve my end goal. I see an image in my mind first, and then I begin planning just how I am going to get that image into the lens. For me, that involves lots of scouting locations, and studying light conditions and how the light is going to play on my subject. Often that means visiting the same location several times, but at different times of the day. It is critical for me to know in advance just how the light is going to hit, and therefore effect my subject. I can't stress enough the importance of gathering lots of information concerning your location before you attempt your photo session.

     The photo of the Pine Warbler pictured above was taken a few days ago, after observing the light from a previous trek into the woods near my home. On several occasions, I found myself drawn to the play of light on these rocks, and how the light brought out the colors of the lichens growing on their surface. For me......it was a subject that had to be photographed......but it needed something.

     So, a few days ago I revisited the sight and covered the rocks and the ground with bird seed. LOT' S OF BIRD SEED.  I quickly found that I had attracted a large variety of species to the sight, and suddenly had what I needed to add the interest to the rocks and complete my vision for the photograph. All in all, I am pleased with the resulting image, as it closely matches what I had envisioned in the weeks prior. Good photographs rarely happen by chance. Most of those are Snapshots.......they are not meaningful photographic images. My favorite photographers do not rely on chance encounters. They plan their outings carefully,  sometimes researching an area for months or years before investing their time and money on a shoot. In the end, this kind of effort is rewarded in one's images. I hope this will encourage all of you to work at becoming better photographers. It's not the camera.......it's the eye behind the lens that makes art.