Photography Tip – Don’t Take Scenes for Granted

1 03 2010

My photography tip or thought for the day has to do with taking a scene for granted. Long story short, when you’re looking at a scene, keep in mind that you may be able to get “that” photograph again. For a short story made longer, read on:

I first saw the barn in the photo below about 5 years ago. It’s located just off of Georgetown Pike (Northern Virginia) on the way to Great Falls National Park. I thought that it was an interesting photo subject but there was no where to park. I drove past the bard about 2-3 times a year for the next 4 years. Every time I visited Great Falls I thought about how I could get a photo or two of it. Eventually this past fall I sucked it up. I pulled my car off of the road and parked in some high grass. It was probably a spot that had no business being parked on. Anyone that has driven this road can probably picture the lack of “pull off” parking. I walked about 100 yards to the opening in the tree line that allowed me to capture the shot below.

Why do I tell you all of this? Well a few weeks ago, I took a drive to Great Falls shortly after the back to back blizzards (B^3 would have been a clever name). It was a day that there certainly no where to stash a car off of the side of the road because of 4 snow plowed embankments. I was curious to see the barn in a winter like scene as I had never gone to Great Falls with snow on the ground. As I approached the barn, I saw that the scene was no more. The roof had collapsed under the weight of the snow and I would guess that the barn will be demolished in the near future.

So with this photo of a barn in mind, I suggest taking a photograph of a good scene when you find one because it might not always be there for the taking.


“[Photography] is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”

26 01 2009

The quote, Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go,” by .L. Doctorow is an accurate description of how I started in photography. One day, pretty much on a whim, I decided to buy a camera and start exploring scenic Central New York. I set off with a Canon SLR and some film.

A summer view of Skaneateles Lake

A summer view of Skaneateles Lake

The Finger Lakes of New York were a scenic subject that caught my attention. This photograph was the first photo I could remember that I thought was “good”. The clouds were perfect, but that was about all I noticed. Looking back on taking this photograph, I recall just taking a picture of the lake paying zero attention to the two people taking in the view and sharing time. I look at the image now and say the horizon is too high and the the wall that curves through the image is cut on the left.

Many rolls of film and many awful exposures filled this summer (2003). Photos lacked subjects. They lacked strong composition. I think the only thing I was able to capture were some vivid colors.  The first few months were strictly trial and error.

A waterfall in a state park near Syracuse.

A waterfall in a state park near Syracuse.

As autumn rolled around, the trees in the area lit up with colors that I still hope to revisit someday. The image to the right was taken late in the season and there were snow flurries in the air. I’m not sure how I got this exposure with a hand held shot. And I’m not sure ever thinking about the composition, though it’s one that I still enjoy to this day. This photograph made me think that I could make something (a decent hobby) of this photography idea.

Autumn lead to one other shot that kept me motivated for the new hobby. The image is blown up in my home and at first glance, many believe it is a painting. I guess that’s what happens when you enlarge to 20″x30″ with film that doesn’t want to stretch that far! It’s another shot (seen below on the left) where I don’t recall any sense of planning. There were lots of colors and I was hypnotized by them. Everything else was just a crap shoot. I didn’t even include enough of the bridge. Just more point and hope glory!

A view of the valley at Chittenango Falls near Syracuse, NY

A view of the valley at Chittenango Falls near Syracuse, NY

So to tie this back to where I started, I began with nothing more than a camera and a lack of direction. Trial and error was my first method of learning, which lasted for months. The results were “decent”; I was thrilled but the photographs were strictly amateur. It took some time, but eventually I decided to start reading some “how to” articles here on the interweb.