So, there I was, reading the March/April 2017 issue of Popular Photography magazine (specifically an article by Glen Van Slooten on ‘seeing the trees for the forest’) which included this quote from Henry David Thoreau. The words resonated deep inside me. A few days later, I was reading about the cover shot for the March 2017 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. In his own words to describe the picture and his process for making it, the photographer, Robert Glenn Ketchum, said this, “…As you look at this image, I want to call your attention to an “old school” idea about taking pictures: The camera doesn’t matter; it’s what you see that’s important…” My technically oriented engineer’s brain almost exploded. I called one of my photo mentors to discuss this interesting concept. He laughed and said something like, ‘why yes, and that’s the subject of a presentation I’m making next week.’ (Though I didn’t hear it specifically, I’m sure that he covered the telephone and said something like ‘he FINALLY gets it!!’)
As I thought about the quotes and my mentor and his presentation, I realized that I have been subconsciously wrestling with the concept for some time. When I look at something, what am I actually seeing? I had always wondered why people making images from the same place and time that I was were making better images. In many instances, they could see an image that I didn’t.
What does it mean? Simply, there’s one more item on my list of things to learn about photography. This one, however, is not a setting on the camera – it’s consciously looking at an item, animal, or scene and visualizing the image it could be, or taking an idea and making it into a reality. We’ll all see if I can actually do it – the challenge is there.
I had the opportunity to go inside the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City before it re-opened last weekend. The Museum suffered damage from flooding last January and has been closed for repairs and cleanup. I’m happy to report that the Museum staff and volunteers did an excellent job and the displays and exhibits are in excellent shape. Here are some images from my visit.
As you can see, I worked on my HDR skills. I also tried a new technique that I’ve been exploring – focus stacking. In focus stacking, images are made at different focal planes and then blended together to achieve deep focus in subjects. The Museum was probably not the best place to work this technique as many of the subjects have curved surfaces, making focus stacking a challenge. I did it, however, and learned lots about the technique and its challenges.
I love focus stacking, and am happy to add it to my photography toolbox. Just like everything else in my toolbox, its best use is a work in progress. I hope you enjoyed my revelation and my trip to the Railroad Museum. A big thanks to the staff for allowing me to visit.
Enjoy – PHOTOROGR