Portraying more

Sticking to the card theme.  Here are a couple more I’ve put together.

Landscape photographers debate whether their images are intended to tell a story or simply document a scene.  I’ve seen compelling work in both genres but feel my bias is to the latter.  Maybe it comes from growing up with National Geographic magazines where photographers worked hard to simply show what’s out there to an audience that wasn’t able to travel to distant and exotic lands.

Initial my interest was to capture in my images the iconic scenes at places I was able to visit.  I think it was a comparison thing – could I make an image as good as the one that drew me to the location in the first place.  I still do that a bit but now I’m also trying to find my own perspective, a look at the scene that I find interesting.  Not as extreme as some photographers who go to great and crazy lengths to make images literally where no man has gone before, but rather a view of a scene that is not the iconic.  One that shows a sense of the place different that the postcard version (yes, ironic to turn them into cards, I know).

The Half Dome scene in Yosemite is from the valley floor; usually Half Dome is portrayed from Glacier Point high on the wall near it.  I chose this location because it shows how immense the feature is above the ground and adds a peaceful sense to the foreground compared to the wild nature of the granite wall.

The scene in the Gorge is just a typical fall color profusion.  I wanted to show the horizontal bands of color with the white trunks cutting through to reach upward.  The nice thing about fall colors is I could have stood right on this site a week before and a week after and gotten three different images.  A good example of an iconic image but not an iconic location in time or space.

Winter shape

The park nearby is around an old limestone quarry.  The pit is a lake now, available for swimming, canoes and scuba diving.  Artifacts from the days when the mining company was in full swing are still in the park to connect the past and present.  With the right light they give a nice contrast between manufactured and nature.


This is all that remains of a rock crusher situated next to the pit.  Limestone from this area was used as structural elements in buildings but most of it was crushed to become aggregate for roads and such.  Late light falling on the crusher enabled me to show the texture of the worn metal and dimensionality of its shape.  The bullet nose contrasts nicely with the chaotic tree-line on the lake’s far shore.


This small wetland bisects through the park, giving the passing waterfowl a choice between open water and hiding in the tall grass.  The shape here that looks like a mowed path is where the small stream meanders through the park.  I liked how the sun was falling on the duck nest on the right, looking across the open grass to the tree spreading various limbs over the marsh.  Again, the ordered structure of the nesting box contrasts against the fractal nature of the tree limbs as they branch smaller and smaller, ending in a fuzzy edge against the sky.

What’s your choice of camera?

Within reasonable driving distance I have no problem hauling around a variety of gear, prepared to photograph anything from close-ups of flowers to wide panoramas.  Since I’m usually exploring rather than seeking a specific composition, having flexibility with gear is important.

When traveling by air I put as much as I can in my carry-on camera bag, but I’m finding that becomes a burden to haul around.  And really, when I’m just visiting places for fun, how many different scenes should I really prepare for anyway?  To that end, I’m thinking of a small, multi-purpose quality camera kit I can put in a few pockets or small bag.  The classic kit would be a Leica M series rangefinder with a couple of lenses but that would pretty much cost more than the trip or vacation.  So what other alternatives are there?  I’m looking for advice.

What do you carry with you on trips that gives you the flexibility to photograph most of what interests you, delivers quality images, and doesn’t need a backpack to haul around?  Let me know your favorite kits and what’s in your bag for travel.