Photography is passion, energy, thought and knowledge combined with light, colour, shape, texture and movement to create emotion

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The title of this post, “Photography is passion, energy, thought and knowledge combined with light, colour, shape, texture and movement to create emotion”, tries to capture what photography means to me. This is a repost of something I posted to my old blog about three years ago.

Anyone who knows me will know that one of the things in life that I am passionate about is photography, particularly taking photos of nature, and in the past year or two I have really gotten into bird photography. I have a lot of photographs on Flickr, the social image sharing site owned by Yahoo, which is where all the images used in this post are located. I also share many of my photos on Facebook, mainly for my friends and acquaintances who are interested in my photography. Mostly, I photograph nature. If I take pictures of people, I prefer to do it where people and nature or people and larger human creativity are juxtaposed. After all, juxtaposition is probably the single most important source of creativity.

Melissa cupping the sun in her hand

Melissa holding the sunset in her hand.

I get asked a lot of questions about photographs and photography, and for a long time I have been meaning to have a blog section on it. I had intended to with my old blog, but life intervened and I got busy. But on this new blog, I am going to try to start talking about how I think of nature photography. I got into it when my mother bought me a Minolta range finder camera way back in high school. She must have gone without in order to do so, because to say that we were not very well off is an understatement. I fell in love with it immediately. And I have been doing photography in some form ever since, both on land and under water. So, on to the lentils of this vegetarian post.

Galápagos sea lion: under water

Galapagos sea lion, photographed on a trip to the islands in the late 1990s.

Photography is about freezing time, isn’t it? Images are built from the interplay of light, shape, texture and movement and their capture into a static moment. The combination of ingredients that make an image are transient, unless you are in the completely controlled environment of a studio, and even then, only inanimate things are static. So photography is about capturing a static representation of an ever changing world, and doing so in a way that evokes emotion. If a photograph does not evoke emotion, it is as wall painting with a roller is to art, and you should drag it onto the trash icon.

Serval - Leptailurus serval

Serval cat.

I have often had people say, I wish I had your camera, in the belief that the camera makes a difference. Of course it does to some degree, especially the lens quality, but you can make really creative photographs using anything that can record a still image. The first part of capturing good, emotive images is to know the device, what you can do with it, and what its limitations are, and to know how to use the device to capture light. The second part of capturing good images is to know your subject. Someone who doesn’t know anything about horses will struggle to take good horse pictures. They will be flat, like a paint by numbers painting is to art. The third part of taking good photos is to know light. There is an element of the physics of light that you need to understand, but more importantly is to understand the importance of the interplay of light, shadow, colour and texture, and how to use your camera to manipulate them. A fourth part of making a good photograph is composition, what of the scene in front of you is in and what is out, what parts do you want to emphasize, and what angle will create the best image. A tiny change in angle produces a very different result.

December in Paris

December in Paris, low angle, setting sun, basic point and shoot camera.

As I develop this site, I will explore some of these ideas and how I use them. You might not like all my photographs, or even any of them, but there is passion, energy, thought and knowledge in all of them. This is what we will explore. Please check back now and then and see what is happening here.

Incoming ordinance - flowers need pollinators! [Amegilla sp. (Apidae), female]

Incoming bee.