Becoming a Better Photographer by Knowing When Not to Shoot

In the Fall 2012 issue of OPC, Darwin Wiggett our advanced shooter columnist, writes about becoming a better photographer by knowing when not to shoot. Sounds crazy? You can read the full column here.

Thanks for stopping by.
Roy Ramsay
Editor-in-Chief

Announcing the November Editor’s Assignment


 

 

 

 

 

 

This months assignment: November (Black and White Landscapes) — click here

The November editor’s assignment is open only to landscape photography. Show us your best black and white landscape photo.

Your entry must be Canadian. Remember your technical skills as well as your creative ones. Only one image from all submitted images will be chosen as the November assignment winner. Each person can only enter one photo. The deadline for this assignment is November 30, 2012.  Anything uploaded after the deadline will be ineligible.

Prizes: The winning image will be published in the Spring issue (April 2013) of OPC and the winner will receive 4 back issues of Outdoor Photography Canada magazine of their choice, and an official OPC  toque and baseball cap.

Have fun!
Roy Ramsay
Editor-in-Chief
Outdoor Photography Canada magazine

Autumn — a Time for Reflection

Skeletons, vampires and ghouls will soon wander our streets in search of candy and treats. It’s a fun, if not a morbid way to say goodbye to another wonderful season. Yes, autumn is coming to an end yet again. It’s a time when Mother Nature shows us her true self, in all her glorious splendour; red and gold, yellow and orange. Photographers hit the trails to capture their vision of Mother Nature before she fades into her winter sleep. For each of us, as photographers, we try to capture this vision in our own styles. For many budding photographers this is a daunting task, not knowing what your style is, or how to begin to express it.

A View from the beginning of the Dufferin Bruce Trail

This is a view from the Dufferin Bruce Trail head. Overlooking farms and rolling hills.

How does one find their style? When will it become known? The answer lies only within us. I know this is a vague explanation, but when you finally do find your own path and style, it all makes more sense. The path that each of us must take is the path of practise. With practise comes two things; the first is a thorough knowledge of our tools of the trade. Our camera gear. Know it like the back of your hand and you will begin to experience your photography in a whole new way. Only when you have mastered your gear, can you look beyond it. No longer will you worry or toil over camera settings and lens choices — these all become second nature.

The second is an appreciation of the connection you experience through your photography. I spoke about this in a previous blog (What Photographers Feel When They Take a Photograph — September 11, 2012). The point when your inner self connects with the landscape, nature or wildlife subject is the moment that counts; it all culminates into that one moment. When this happens you’re essentially experiencing an emotional connection with Mother Nature. When you’re able to give yourself freely to this experience your style will begin to emerge and make itself known.

Fall colour near Lavender, ON

Autumn, for me, is a time for reflection as it was during this season it all clicked for me. I finally got it. Shooting during this season brings back fond memories and an emotional connection that will stay with me forever.

 

What do photographers feel when they take a photograph?

Recently I had a reader ask me a few questions: Why did you take up photography? When are you the happiest while shooting? And what do photographers feel when they take a photograph? I answered in the following way.

I have always had the artistic bug within me, so to speak. I tried drawing and painting and found I didn’t have the talent for it. I realized, at least for me, I needed to do something that I could identify with, something that would allow me to speak through my art. It was not so much my hands that would allow this expression, but my eyes, mind and heart. Photography allows me to do just that. In the beginning the technical was a bit frustrating to grasp, but practise, practise, practise got me through it. Then one day it all came together and I was able to express my innermost feelings of a place through my photography.

I’m the happiest when I am in nature – anywhere in nature away from the city. Nature’s sounds, the temperature of the air, and the quieting of my soul is what draws me there. Nature brings me a sense of peace that’s found deep within me. When I need to recharge my batteries, I go shooting. To take this one step further, I’m most happy when I’ve composed my shot and I trip the shutter. Whether the shot turns out or not isn’t what draws me, but rather the process that leads me to that point. The peacefulness that photography brings me is my reconnection with nature, and that’s my happiest time. The “good” photography comes with practise, but the process, which allows me to reconnect with nature, is what matters most to me.

So to answer your question of how photographers feel when they take a photograph…I can’t speak for all photographers, but I find that nature speaks to me through its trees and babbling brooks, so I answer with a photograph.

Photos: ©Roy Ramsay
Top photo: Main Chutes, Chutes Provincial Park, ON
Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 35mm, ƒ18@0.3 sec., ISO 200, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer
Bottom photo: Minor Chutes, Chutes Provincial Park, ON
Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 105mm, ƒ18@1/6 sec., ISO 200, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer

Bikes, Photography and a Murder of Crows

When a photographer friend of mine invited me on a recent photo trip she asked me if I have a bike. I do, but haven’t ridden it in over a year. The idea was to ride our bikes from the car, parked at one end of the intended trail route, and ride along the roadways to the other end of the trail. We would leave our bikes at the far end of the trail and hike back to the car along the five-kilometre portion of the Dufferin Hi-Land route of the Bruce Trail.

   The Bruce Trail is Ontario’s longest hiking trail, beginning in Queenston, ON to the south and ending 885 km away in Tobermory, ON to the north. The idea of incorporating my bike into my photo-hiking was an intriguing one, so I eagerly agreed.

Image
P
hoto: ©Susan David/www.susandavid.ca

   We unloaded our bikes from the car and pulled on our backpacks full of photo gear, ready for our ride to the other end of the trail. Within the first minute of setting off, my bike’s back tire came off and jammed itself against the frame. Without tools to fix the problem, my bike was out of commission. Mental note: Make sure you tune up your bike before you set out on a ride in the middle of nowhere. Looks like we were back to hiking the usual way — sans bike.

   The Bruce Trail is an amazing route that takes you through many regions of southwestern Ontario. As I mentioned, we tackled a five-kilometre section within the Dufferin Hi-Land region, which of course became a 10-kilometre hike after we had to retrace our steps in the opposite direction. There are benefits to walking a trail in the opposite direction, as everything is different coming from the other way. You can photograph things you may have potentially missed the first time.

Image

That day we saw much and shot some of the things that we found interesting, like this forest clearing, and an old, abandoned power generating house. The vegetation in the area was reclaiming its territory by the looks of things.

Image

   Before we ended our hike back at the car, we became acutely aware of why crows in a bunch are called a murder of crows. The sound of what seemed like 100-plus crows cawing together is not a sound I would like to hear again anytime in the near future; it chilled me to the bone.

Photos: ©Roy Ramsay
Image info:
Forest clearing: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 45mm, ƒ18@1/5 sec., ISO 200, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer

Abandoned power generating house: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 24mm, ƒ18@1 sec., ISO 200, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer