Does Emotion Help? If it is Under Control !

In Blog #6 I was a bit embarrassed to admit that when I was highly emotional about getting a Teton Valley shot of the fog, I didn’t do a very good job of thinking straight.  I may be exaggerating a bit but as I develop my photography, I am fairly relaxed most of the time while getting landscape shots and I often feel “part of the environment.”

I am finding that as I grow as a photographer, I take time to think about what I want my image to “say” rather than rushing to take a bunch of photos.  Early in my retirement I visited a number of National Park.  I seldom took time to feel part of the environment and rarely took time reflecting on what I wanted to share with my photos – my approach wasn’t exactly click-click-click but it wasn’t emotionally thoughtful either.

But now I often feel comfortable taking time to think about what I want my photos to say, especially in Grand Teton National Park because it is like home to me.  The experience with the environment and the increasing confidence in using my equipment changed my approach.  Take a minute to think about your approach … are you click-click-click or one-with-the-environment or something in the middle?

Since my bracketing confusion from Blog #6 I have taken time to review and practice using the exposure bracketing function in my Nikon 610.  It isn’t terribly complicated but if I don’t practice using such functions, I am likely to have problems on a photo shoot in the dark before sunrise.  Practice doesn’t always make perfect but it sure helps me in photography.  A couple days ago the weather report seemed good which gave me a chance to see if my practice helped.  So I planned to go to one of my favorite Grant Teton locations – Schwabacher’s Landing.

Sunrise was at 5:45 am and I live a little more than an hour away from the park, so I needed to get a good start.  The sky was fairly dark and clear and there were a number of people lined-up in the iconic location at Schwabacher’s Landing where I had taken images dozens of times.  I decided to move on to a place up-river which I have found to be beautifully relaxing.  I call it “North Schwabey” and really enjoying spending time there by myself as part of the environment.

I walked along the foot path of a narrow ribbon of the Snake River.  As I set up my tripod, I could see the sun lighting up the mountains with clouds building in the background.   I could feel a story building, but the light was very dim in the foreground.  It was time to use bracketing to deal with the high dynamic range of light.



After I set-up my tripod I stood on the path by the ribbon in the river and felt relaxed watching the clouds form and the mountains begin to light-up.  I was alone and I felt very engaged with the environment.  I took a quick shot to see about my exposure and my 1/30th at f13 was a little under-exposed but I was ready – Bracket Time.







Here is the 2nd bracket shot at 1/125 at f13.  Even darker but using Lightroom HDR will solve the problem … although once I got home I thought maybe I shouldn’t be so tempted to always set-up my Exposure Compensation at -1.0.







My 3rd bracket shot at 1/8th at f13 is really over-exposed but the HDR will use this image to give some light to the foreground.  Now it’s time to put the three images together with the Lightroom HDR and then clean it up a bit.




And here is the final HDR image.  Do you feel that you can walk down the path and follow the ribbon of the Snake River into the mountains?  Maybe?  Do you feel relaxed and involved in this beautiful place?  Or maybe you are thinking there might be a storm coming?  My feeling is that this image is relaxing but not a “WOW, that is amazing type of image.”

After taking this image I hung around “North Schwabey” for quite awhile enjoying the view and walking along the stream.  As the sky lit-up I turned around and began to walk back to the iconic view of Schwabacher’s Landing and noticed an amazing OMG sky.  It took me about 5 minutes to walk back and less than a minute to set-up my tripod to take this picture up the river a bit from many other photographers.  I got a real eye-catcher of a shot but I have to say that I like my “North Schwabey” shot better because it has a clear message.  What do you think?



It is so easy to fire-away and try to get lots of good pictures when you start as a photographer.  But I believe  I have arrived at a place where that approach can undermine my growth as a photographer.  I’d like to be at a place in my advancement as a photographer where I typically feel one with the environment.  I’m certainly not there regularly but when I do find myself engrossed in the environment, I look forward to working with the image and also enjoying the time I am spending.

Where are you at?  Have you moved past the click-click-click stage?  Do you set aside time to practice with your photo gear: it’s OK, there is quite a bit of photo gear I have that I don’t feel confident in using?  If you are a landscape photographer do you plan a photo shoot with enough time for you to get set-up without a rush?

I believe that my growth as an amateur photographer is significantly impacted by my emotional engagement in the environment.

How does that impact you?