It’s truly a blessing to have a photography club where like minded folks can get together and talk about what we love. There is always mutual learning and sharing that takes place, as well as great camaraderie. Last night’s club night was a wee bit sparse on attendance, but it was still a good time as it always is. The topic was changed from editing photos to watching a video called “Chased by the Light”. It was a video journey through Jim Brandenburg’s self-assigned photo quest. He took 1 photo per day for 90 days. Meaning, he made 1 frame (of film) from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice every day. 90 photos. And every photo is a winner. The exposure and composition and content of each picture is truly amazing. To be able to do this is in itself an incredible feat!! I’d be too worried about blowing the exposure but he nailed each and every one. Check out the trailer to learn more about it.
He has this uncanny ability to distill an image down to it’s essence, to really capture the heart of what makes a landscape a landscape, what makes an animal and animal. Really good portrait photographers can do the same with people. It’s not often the well lit smiling toothy grin image that takes the cake, nor is it the off the cuff candid portrait either. It’s the uncanny knack of capturing the essence of the person, the scene or the moment. This cannot be done with all the latest and greatest technology, new cameras, new lenses, lights, yada yada. It’s something greater than that. More on whatever that is in a future post. But suffice it to say, Brandenburg’s journey was incredible and the video was AMAZING! Breathtaking photos and inspiring creative renewal no doubt for him but also all who look through his images from the 90 days. 😎
The Photo Club’s photo assignment for February was “Foreground Interest” – trying to capture interesting stuff happening in the front most portion of the camera. It’s neat to think of a photo as having 3 distinct planes or areas of composition. Foreground, middle ground and background. Really great landscape images always should have something happening in the foreground as it helps lead the eye through the photo. Same thing for any photo really. Having interesting stuff happening in each of the planes is a key tip for above average photos. Here are my submissions for the evening. All the images were shot with the month’s assignment in mind but the last one of the prairie scene was a rush job, shot an hour and half before the club meeting. Had to have something and this was it! heheheheh…. 😉
This image was shot in the Carnduff hockey rink. I noticed the people talking and decided it would make for cool foreground components. It gets at the heart of small town rink life! I noticed the photo, quickly changed lenses and dialled in my exposure and made the frame.
This photo was taken on a little photo walk I did trying to capture winter in contrasty black and white. I loved the old historic nature of the farm yard and liked how the frost had covered the remnants of this old weathered wood.
Finally, this was the fast photo. I needed to get an third photo and essentially ran out of time. This is just out behind my house and I brought along a flash. I triggered it off camera and lit the backlit prairie grass to mimic the light the sun was shining from behind it. It, along with the dried out clover stalk added some foreground interest, but it’s basically an example of making the photo vs. taking the photo. 😀
Chased by the Light is a really fascinating documentary story about world famous National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg. After experiencing a period of burn out from the fast paced, demanding world of magazine shooting, Brandenburg sought to be rejuvenated in photography. To re-inspire himself, he gave himself an assignment: to capture 1 image per day for 90 days. I’m not talking shooting 57 images and picking the best one. His self-assigned task was to shoot one frame per day – one picture and one picture only.
The challenge was tremendous on two fronts. Firstly, it had to be a National Geographic quality picture of awesome content. The substance and essence of the photo had to be there. And secondly, he had to have all the technical stuff figured out precisely *before* he took the shot to ensure a proper exposure. Normally we bang off a series of shots and pick the best one or make adjustments. But Jim’s shots had to be bang on each and every time. The movie compares it to stepping up to bat and hitting a grandslam from a single pitch, 90 days in a row!
The film was really excellent for helping us enter Brandenburg’s world and immersing ourselves in his photos and experience. And really, it’s the only way he could get the shots he got. He was literally “in the picture,” transcending the image. Most photographers, especially wildlife guys, go into an area from the outside and try to get shots. But Jim’s photos come from within North Woods area. He lives among his subjects and you can tell by the quality and intimacy of his shots. The film has an almost Eastern spirituality about the “essence” of photography and the intuition/awareness that makes “the shot” happen.
The video is filled with his own personal reflections and revelations about having to choose between photo opportunities. A beautiful rainbow or a raven feather on a rock. Otters playing in a lake or long-shadow water grass. It must have been a tremendous challenge but also very rewarding at the same time.
I was inspired as I watched it and I highly recommend the video to anyone who likes outdoor/nature/wildlife photography, but also for anyone who has a passion for what photography can be when one is chased by the light.