Go With The Flow

April 30, 2013 | Leave a Comment |

Wake I, Acadia National Park, Maine, 2000

One sunny day at Long Pond in Acadia National Park, Maine I became fascinated by the patterns of light in water I saw in my viewfinder. Suddenly, the patterns were disrupted. I looked up and saw the source of the disturbance. My dogs had gone swimming in my picture. But I soon found that the new patterns they made were much more interesting. I decided to go with the flow. Instead of calling them back to the shore, I threw sticks into the water for them, simultaneously playing and photographing for the better part of an hour.

When I got my film back (Yes, this image was made during the transition from the ‘good old days’ to these ‘strange days’.) I was surprised once again by how complex and varied patterns of light can be. These patterns became more pronounced when symmetry, almost mandala-like, was created. Creating symmetry from these patterns wasn’t a move I had planned to make at the time of exposure. There are many times when I make images when I’m not certain that they will work out or where they are going, trusting that something will come of them. It’s surprising that things work out as often as they do.

The natural color palette of these images wasn’t all that attractive. I first explored removing the hue, trying black and white. Then I changed hue. I went too far. Or so I thought. The strong abstract patterns were able to support dramatic color changes. I went with the flow, enjoying color in a way I never had before. It took some time to run out of steam. Some flows are stronger than others. Was it gone? Was that it? Where was the limit? I systematically tried many variations. Shifting gears and being more analytic than emotive, through a series of studies I discovered that the images that worked best contained no posterization, preserving three-dimensionality, and used two dominant colors with warm and cool variations of each, stretched just short of the point where they became other colors. With this information, I was able to resolve many more images. I extended the momentum of the flow.

I was surprised by how much material I had to work with. Initially, I hoped to find one image; now, I found that I had enough material for an entire series. What’s more, the idea could be extended to many other situations in the future; it had legs.

You might say, things didn’t go according to plan – and I was very glad they didn’t. It might be more accurate to say that the plan evolved along the way, as the best plans do.

To go with the flow you have to tune in. You can’t go with the flow if you’re unaware of what’s happening or that it’s happening. Going with the flow is something that you can prepare for. You can learn to be more aware. You can learn to be aware in many ways. You can develop a taste for flow and know when it’s about to happen.  You can make flow more likely to happen by seeking out or creating situations that are super-charged. You can engineer flow – by preparing yourself (and your collaborators) as well as your environment. Flow is a mindset.

The Greek philosopher scientist Heraclitus said, “You can never step in the same river twice.” Sieze the moment. Go with the flow.

Questions

What happens when you go with the flow?

What happens when you stay the course?

What happens when you modify a plan based on new information?

When is it better to go with the flow?

When is it better to stay the course?

When is it better to modify a plan based on new information?

Can you return to your original plan later?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

17 Quotes On Light

April 29, 2013 | Leave a Comment |

Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on light.

” Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman

“Science is spectral analysis. Art is light synthesis.” – Karl Kraus

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose

“I find the light and work it, work it, work it.” – Janice Dickinson

“Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.” – Le Corbusier

“The substance of painting is light.” – Andre Derain

“What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.” – John Berger

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” – Alfred Stieglitz

“In nature, light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light.” – Hans Hofmann

“A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light or rather in light.” – Henri Matisse

“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” – Sir Francis Bacon

“Darkness is where we begin and where we end. We don’t usually see light traveling in darkness of space because we only can see its reflection on substance.” – Ala Bashir

“You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.” – Arlo Guthrie

“Why is it called ‘after dark’ when it really is ‘after light’?” – George Carlin

“There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.” – James Thurber

“There are two ways of spreading light… To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton

“The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.” – Robert Schumann

Find more Creativity Quotes here.

Discover more quotes daily in my Twitter and Facebook streams.

Austin Kleon followed the success of his first book Newspaper Blackout with another Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being An Artist. You can find out more about his thoughts on creativity in these two talks. The first at TED is the short form; the second at Google is expanded.

View more on Newspaper Blackout here.

Find out more about Austin Kleon here.

Antarctica XI, 2005

Sometimes those little extra touches make all the difference in the world.

On my first voyage to Antarctica, I was thunderstruck by its immensity. The vast untouched silent spaces were overwhelming. It was a supreme challenge to suggest this sense of scale in the comparatively small images I was producing. This was even more challenging in an environment without human figures or man-made objects.

One of the ways I approached this challenge was to make images filled mostly with space and populated by tiny objects. You can create a powerful sense of scale if you can present large things as being tiny without creating a sense of distortion at the same time.

Some objects bring magic with them. Include the sun, moon, or evening star and you’ve added a magic moment. The bigger you make them, the stronger the magic moment becomes, but no matter how small it’s always magic. Did you ever notice how when a tiny figure is included in an immense landscape picture that the images becomes about the person? I’m always amazed at how something that occupies 1% of the total image’s area can make such a difference.

I marvel at how we overlook the dramatic distortions inherent in making small images of very large things, like mountains. On the one hand, this strikes me as funny, in both senses of the word – comical and strange. On the other hand, this is magical; you can hold the earth in your hands. Suspension of disbelief is responsible for much of the magic of looking at realistic images.

Initially, this image was made without the moon, which was added later. The moon makes this image stronger in many ways, taking it up a notch. The moon also changes the nature of this photography. Without the moon, this image can be seen as a literal, historical document. With the moon, this image becomes an aesthetic object with a heightened emotional emphasis; a poem rather than a piece of non-fiction. While both versions hold up, I prefer the version with the moon. I choose which version to show based on what’s appropriate for a given use. For instance, I show the version without the moon in my editorial body of work Antarctica. The same means are not appropriate for all situations.

Questions

What small things could you include to make a big difference?

Which small things make the biggest difference?

Does how you include them increase or decrease the contributions they make?

Is their inclusion appropriate for what you are trying to accomplish?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on photography.

“Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.” – Ken Rockwell

“The photographic image … is a message without a code.” – Roland Barthes

“Every photograph is a battle of form versus content. The good ones are on the border of failure.” – Garry Winogrand

“There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept.” -Ansel Adams

“When you put four edges around some facts (photographs), you change those facts.” – Garry Winogrand

“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.” – William Thackeray

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” –  Aaron Siskind

“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” – Ansel Adams

“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.”  – Dorothea Lange

“Photography is a major force in explaining man to man” – Edward Steichen

“Your photography is a record of your living” – Paul Strand

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”- Ernst Haas

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa

“There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.” – Robert Heinecken

“It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.” –  Henri Cartier-Bresson

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Photographers deal in things which are continuously vanishing…” – Henri Cartier Bresson

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” – Dorothea Lange

“It is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop …” – Auguste Rodin

“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” – Jean-Luc Godard

“People say photographs don’t lie, mine do.” – David LaChapelle

“Photography is just light remembering itself.” – Jerry Uelsmann

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman

Find more Creativity Quotes here.

Discover more quotes daily in my Twitter and Facebook streams.

Zorana Gee demonstrates new deblurring technology in Adiobe Photoshop.

View more Photoshop videos here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.


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