Outdoor Photographer – December 2019
Photography, as a medium, sits at the crossroads between interpretive art and objective documentary. For some. it’s too mechanical and literal to be considered a high art, while for others any subjective departure or manipulation on the part of the photographer borders on nefarious deception. Recently, during a panel discussion in which I was a participant, one of the other panelists. a prominent professional photographer, was strongly opposed to the repeated suggestion that photographs should be made with some practical purpose toward the betterment of the world as their reason for being, that they should be literal and factual and not simply something beautiful for the sake of beauty. The photographer rejected this assertion, stating that his prime motivation was simply the joy of making images.
Certainly there’s room for both perspectives. Nature photography has a rich tradition of serving as a catalyst for the protection of public lands and wildlife, for example, and for igniting social and political change. That’s its documentary power at work. But photography can also be a practice of imagination and play. “The topic of image manipulation may go down in eternity as the most hotly debated topic of landscape photography,” Ted Gore observes. “I don ‘t care to engage on the subject these days because I just don’t see the point anymore. People should decide where they lie on the spectrum of how much manipulation is ‘OK’ and then just put it to rest and go make some images ” In our interview “Amongst Giants,” Gore talks about his work and the techniques he uses to emphasize color and create mood in his landscapes “When I create my images, it’s never my goal to be disingenuous about the location. My personal ‘line in the sand’ is to not alter anything to the point that it no longer resembles the location in reality,” he says. But Gore does not shy away from making alterations to a scene in order to better convey his experience of the place.
If your sensibilities tend toward more literal interpretations, that doesn’t mean you’re left without creative options. In his article “Re-Think Your Winter Landscapes,” Dave Welling proposes numerous techniques to “work a scene,” to find a variety of compositions that emphasize different elements of your surroundings and move beyond the postcard shot. “Don’t just return to the same tripod holes at the same great landscapes,” he advises. “Re-think your visit. What other features are around ? Put the icons on hold and open your eyes to new possibilities.” While the theme of Welling’ s article focuses on the winter season, many of his suggestions can be used any time of year. Also in this issue, Gary Hart takes us along on his adventure in Iceland. “Chasing The Northern Lights.” For many nature photographers, this is a bucket-list phenomenon to witness, but as you’ll learn from his experience, nothing is guaranteed, even with extensive planning. Being properly prepared is the key to success when conditions do cooperate, and Hart shares the lessons he learned in the process to help you plan a trip of your own.
This issue also features the final installment of Jason Bradley’ s four-part series on organizing your photos in Lightroom. In it, he shows us the power of Lightroom’s Smart Collection« for sorting images using a variety of criteria such as the stage of development of each image. Maintaining an image library isn’t the most exciting aspect of being a photographer, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a manageable one and ultimately inspire you to do more with your photography. “The more organized we are,” Bradley concludes, “the more we’ve maximized our potential as we exhibit what we love and share with others our vision for our craft—the ultimate reward, indeed ”