Tag Archives: landscapes

Buttercup and Shooting Stars

An Evening with Photographer Joel Koop – January 13 2016

Wednesday evening was an interesting night at the St. Albert Inn as Joel Koop gave his presentation titled “Your Journey & the Record” to the members of the club. You can check out some of Joel’s work below or on his website here. http://www.joelkoop.com/

As he talked about his own journey and how his interest in photography developed (so to speak) he showed us some of his very early images from his days growing up near Nipawin, Saskatchewan. Like most people, in those early days he used whatever equipment was handy and began shooting objects that he found interesting in the yard and the bush near his home.

He shared some of his first attempts trying to capture shots of chipmunks in the wood piles and grouse in the woods with a camera built for capturing less dynamic domestic scenes, more likely consisting of a line of smiling relatives standing in front of grandma’s house after her 80th birthday celebration.

It was a familiar story, similar to my own journey and probably to the stories of many of the club members in attendance Wednesday night. Most of us picked up a camera at one point, started shooting and were soon hooked. Whether it’s the equipment, the creative possibilities or the stimulation to just get out there and capture our little corner of the world and then share what we’ve made with others; we all share a love for photography!

Joel shared a very interesting philosophical point that I think all photographers need to completely absorb into their mind/heart/artists worldview and I will try to pass that along here, hopefully without messing it up too badly. I believe he said it this way, “your life affects your photography, but your photography has to stand on its own”.

It seems to me that Joel is very, very, right on this point, providing that is, that the photographer wants to elevate his/her work beyond the snapshot level. I’m pretty sure that is something all of our club members are shooting for.

Aurora Dancing with Trees

Our lives affect our photography. Check, I get that. Our photographs have to stand on their own. What! Not so check! (A bit of a revelation actually) This little tidbit was the salient point of the whole evening, for me at least.

I’m sure that most of us struggle with the emotional attachment that we have with the subject of our photographs. I am constantly remembering as I view my own work. Sometimes I can still taste the coffee I was drinking as I drove at 5:30 am to a little bridge over the Sturgeon River on a July morning in 2006, hoping for fog in the valley floor and dew in the grain field and being absolutely ecstatic to find exactly those conditions waiting for me.

When I look at the images that I took that day, my perception of them is warped/coloured by those memories and it’s a struggle to judge them impartially. Of course I wouldn’t have it any other way, I need those memories, they’re what keeps me going, they propel me out of bed before sunrise (occasionally) and compel me to continually seek out those opportunities.

That, in a nutshell is what makes photography along with many other art forms so incredibly wonderful and rewarding, it makes us experience life on another level. Of course it also makes us miss out on some of what’s going on around us as we fumble with our gear, but that’s a whole other discussion!

Our photography HAS to stand on its own. Our viewers were not present when the photograph was taken, so just as the image was captured by the photographer, the viewers’ attention must be “captured” by the photograph.

We all know the methods to accomplish this, we use composition, colour, storytelling, emotion, detail, lighting, technical excellence, creativity, style, etc. We make choices based on our training, artistic abilities, and a lifetime of experiences and then we present our work and oftentimes are left wondering why people didn’t respond in the way we expected them to.

Our photography has to stand on its own. When the viewer looks at our work, what they see is detached from us, there is no emotional connection that we can rely on to make it interesting to them in the way it’s interesting to us. It’s a tough lesson, but one that we all need to learn if we want our work to be elevated beyond the ordinary.
Bright Fireweed

At one point Joel asked himself a question and it is probably a question that we all ask ourselves regularly, “am I a photographer?” and his answer was, “does it even matter?” Good answer.

You may be like me and have always considered yourself a photographer who pays the bills in some other way. “I’m a photographer who works ______________.” Fill in the blank. It seems reasonable if you’re taking pictures for any reason beyond taking snapshots that you’re free to think of yourself as a photographer. But however you think of yourself in terms of your photography, Joel’s advice is to experiment.

Try everything, if you have a pet; shoot it! (With your camera of course). Shoot patterns, macro, panoramas, landscapes, sports, and whatever else catches your interest. Experiment until you find something that you love and then keep shooting. Go back over the list and try some experimental techniques with lighting, lens flare, movement, etc.

Joel advises us to “let go of interesting things (to you) and instead to search out interesting photos.” If you remember the cardinal rule, “our photographs have to stand on their own” then you will definitely be way ahead of the game as you search out interesting photographs that appeal to viewers who don’t have an emotional connection to you or to your work.

Frozen Night

When we’re shooting we need to remember to separate ourselves from the experience we’re immersed in and put ourselves in the place of the viewer. Our audience are likely looking at a print or a screen with no context to draw on and no emotional connection to the image.

The challenge is to find something you love and shoot it in such a way that a complete stranger will take one look at it and love it just as much as you do. It’s a tall order of course, but one worth striving for.

Joel says, “Be kind to yourself and be ruthless with your photos”, and that’s good advice! Thanks for coming out and sharing your work and your thoughts and experiences Joel, it was a very interesting night and it gave us all lot’s to think about.

by Doug Petry

Buttercup and Shooting Stars

I am at the high valley of Mount. Edith Cavel next to the small mountain lake created by the melt waters from Angel glacier, in Jasper National Park Alberta Canada.

All fine Art Landscape images are available as art prints in collections and as limited edition signed copies. All canvas prints are all limited edition and signed.

No modification, cropping or further editing is permitted with out with the expressed permission of Drew May Photography.

December Guest Speaker – Drew May

Wednesday December 9, landscape photographer Drew May brought his own unique photographic style to show us as he spoke to the club about his “travels seeking light”. In a relaxed informal style of running through his slide show as he talked about the individual images and answering many questions along the way, Drew shared his own story as he helped all of us present add to our knowledge of photography.

Drew May

Drew has gone through a number of changes in his photographic career over the years from shooting weddings, fashion, commercial, journalism and portraiture before returning to his passion for fine art landscape photography.

He lives in Mayerthorpe Alberta, a town of 1398 residents along highway 43 on the way to Whitecourt, Grande Prairie and parts beyond. Ranging out from there, he’s covered a lot of ground in Alberta, chasing storms and exploring the majestic landscapes of the Rocky Mountains and foothills as he searches out waterfalls, lakes, streams and interesting stands of trees.

He also loves to photograph the lonely and haunting abandoned buildings that are scattered over the landscape.

Tangle River falls about 100km south of the Town of Jasper.

Tangle River falls about 100km south of the Town of Jasper.

Driving south along Hwy 93 [we just call the parkway} just before Tangle River Falls in Jasper National Park Canada. Looking South toward "the Twins" the "rim" of the Athabasca Glassier. Winter is all but given up all that lest is for the snow to melt. All fine Art Landscape and other images are available as art prints in collections and as limited edition signed copies. All canvas prints are all limited edition and signed. No modification, cropping or further editing is permitted with out with the expressed permission of Drew May Photography.

Driving south along Hwy 93 [we just call the parkway} just before Tangle River Falls in Jasper National Park Canada. Looking South toward “the Twins” the “rim” of the Athabasca Glassier. Winter has all but given up, all that is left is for the snow to melt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He shared a little about what he’s learned over the years attempting to capture lightning strikes using various techniques from long exposures capturing several lightning strikes to using a gadget called a lightning bug. He uses a light activated shutter trigger to fire his camera (Canon 5D Mark III) when lightning occurs.

One more from a lighting shower from a few days ago. I was amazed when i really looked at this image I saw a bird in flight. And you can see it too, just left of the right hand bolt at the major bend down.

One more from a lighting shower from a few days ago. I was amazed when i really looked at this image I saw a bird in flight. And you can see it too, just left of the right hand bolt at the major bend down.

The sky is alive with this storm, it starts to turn in the beginnings of a Tornado. It did collapse and in a few moments the sky cleared and returned to a beautiful day. Good and Bad on the Canadian Prairies.

The sky is alive with this storm, it starts to turn in the beginnings of a Tornado. It did collapse and in a few moments the sky cleared and returned to a beautiful day. Good and Bad on the Canadian Prairies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another thing that was interesting was Drew’s use of tilt-shift lenses to get the foreground and background in clearer focus than can be achieved using a conventional lens and a small aperture. I won’t get into the technical details (because I don’t understand them) but if you’re interested just google – tilt shift lenses or  “the Scheimpflug principle”.

He also uses neutral density filters to extend the exposure time to capture creamy water photographs and cloud movement as well as graduated neutral density filters to cut the exposure to part of an image and keep the image within the dynamic range that the camera’s sensor is able to record. Grads are often used in an effort to tame harsh or contrast-y light. They’re great for adding shadow detail and keeping the colour in skies at sunset which otherwise might get too bright and wash-out to white.

Scrabiling down to the valley of the Bighorn River at the foot of the second deck of Crescent Fall. No modification, cropping or further editing is permitted with out with the expressed permission of Drew May Photography. © www.drewmayphotography.com

Scrabbling down to the valley of the Bighorn River at the foot of the second deck of Crescent Fall.
No modification, cropping or further editing is permitted with out with the expressed permission of Drew May Photography.
© www.drewmayphotography.com

Drew does his own printing on an Epson 3880 printer and highly recommends doing your own printing, he says “it’s almost like printing in a darkroom and waiting as the image appears on the paper”. With a price of somewhere around $1500 I probably won’t be buying one anytime soon but I do get what he means. It’s a little disappointing to send off your file, wait a few days and get a substandard print back when you could do it at home and tweak it exactly how you want the print to look.

Drew does a lot of black and white processing using Nik Silver Efex Pro as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom and he says that he sometimes spends 3 or 4 hours processing an image. Wow, I feel positively lazy considering that I probably don’t spend more than 10 or 15 minutes on a favorite image!

Drew related a story about his early photography mentor sending him out to the back yard with the assignment to return with 30 “good” photographs, from a roll of 36 images. He managed to find 29 that were considered “good” and several times he returned to this lesson over the evening. What he learned and attempted to share with all of us photo enthusiasts in the audience is:

1. You don’t have to travel far from home to get “good” photographs, they’re right there in your own backyard.

2. Learn to see, look around and find those good images because they’re everywhere and all you need is a camera and the ability to see the potential in the world around you.

That’s what I picked up from Drew’s excellent presentation, thanks Drew! But there was one more thing, maybe it was subliminal from the shirt he was wearing that said something like this.

“Just One More Camera”

I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a full frame camera and a couple of tilt-shift lenses and a graduated neutral density filter and a lightning trigger and a good tripod and a suite of developing software and a printer and………my camera is obsolete and it’s time for a new one again…….and on and on it goes.

Visit Drew’s website here