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If You Look Closer



I know.  Grammatically, “If you look more closely” is probably correct, but I thought this title “grabbed” more.  In any event, we are in the middle of Winter, here in Michigan.   It is the time when the days are shortest, and it is often the least inviting to be outdoors. Photographically, for me, it is a time for reflection.  I spend time trying to organize digital files, catch up with Blog posts, work on website improvements, and–finally–find time to “post-process” and print some of the photographs made during the Fall season.  As I review some of my work, I am reminded of a pattern that my own shooting style tends to follow.

Outdoor, nature and landscape photography is so often viewed from the “grand” perspective.  It is not at all uncommon for photographers to seek grand landscape destinations for their photography, including mountain and ocean scenery.  I am certainly among those who plan trips to National Parks and both Eastern and Western destinations, as my LightCentric Photography Landscape Galleries illustrate.

Perhaps my favorite “critique” comment (when asked) is: “get in tighter.”  I suppose that simply reflects my own tendency toward a more closely-cropped view of natural subjects.  I think my own successful images most often have that characteristic.  I am not talking about macro photography, at least not in the technical sense.  Rather, I am speaking of a simply more intimate perspective.

As my personal photographic style has evolved, I have begun to have a “less is more” philosophy about my equipment.  Part of the reason for that is my own shooting style seems to dictate a limited lens range.  Curious, a couple of years back, I did an unscientific survey of my EXIF data and realized that more often than not, my “landscape” photos were taken in a range between 85 and 135mm (however that translates to Nikon’s digital sensor size).  My “workhorse” lens is an 18-200 Nikkor VR lens which, despite predictions, has turned out to be a remarkable quality lens.  I also regularly carry a 60mm “micro” lens (I consider my other lenses–an older T&S lens and a 300mm f2.8 lens–as “special purpose” lenses).  This equipment follows a particular style I have (perhaps unwittingly) developed over my years behind the lens.  It reflects what I see; what looks good to me.

I recently commented to another photographer that I do not have any particular style, to which she responded that not only did she think I do have a unique style, but that she can look at a photo and identify is as “my style.”  On reflection, I will admit that I do have a style.  Whether is it is “mine” or emulated from other(s), I cannot say.  I believe that most of us emulate those things we see others do that we like.  Very likely, my style is a combination of those of others.  I am reminded of a rather contentious debate on the old AOL photo forum about whether there were truly anyunique photographs left to be taken.  I do not recall how that issue was resolved–indeed, I am sure it never was.  Nor do I think it is particularly relevant.  What is relevant, no matter how many times a subject has been previously photographed, is your own unique approach–the way you think about and see a subject through our own eyes.  In my view, that insures that you will apply your own particular style to the subject.

So, look closer.
As you survey a subject for its photographic potential, look more closely at the smaller,
closer, tighter details before you leave the subject.  Look for the surprising little details that nature provides: shapes, colors, motion, reflections, patterns and details.

Thanks for reading . . . .

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One Response

  1. […] It is then that, rather than put the camera away, I often start to think about images within. Back in 2009, I blogged about a similar topic, taking closeup or more intimate photos. Rocks on Lake Superior […]

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