I wrote a blog post awhile back about Contemplative Photography – Letting the Place Speak to You. That post was a result of an outing with friends Wayne Simpson and Ian McGillvrey to Kananaskis Country near Calgary, Alberta. One night during our trip we had big glory light (see below) and we were hoping for the same the next morning but instead we had drab overcast light. That previous post was about letting the place speak to you and pulling out the good stuff that is offered up in any light even if at first glance the light looks boring. That ‘drab’ morning was truly a contemplative experience!
This post is about our big light night, about the ephemeral nature of dramatic light, and about the lack of connection I feel when chasing big light. Trophy light lasts for such a short time that I find myself rushing around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off . To get ‘trophy’ shots you need to put yourself in the right place at the right time, you need to to know your gear, and you have to work quickly to pull off a decent composition. For me, trophy photography is like sprinting – you never know your result until you cross the finish line, and it all goes by in a blur. The experience is not contemplative at all!
In big light I rarely ever connect with the subject I am photographing! My memories have more to do with the hunt than the thing hunted! I focus on lens changes, filters, exposure, and tilting and shifting. I am cursing the camera gear, the dead batteries, filled CF cards and stupid bugs! I’m watching the light and not my subject. In short, I don’t connect at all with the subject I came out to photograph, namely nature! Sometimes I wonder what’s the point?
In the end, I much prefer the slower contemplative approach that overcast light nurtures. I feel whole and calm when I experience nature at my pace. The race demanded by trophy photography is less and less satisfying as I grow older. Maybe trophy hunting is a game for the young photographer? Many of my older photographic colleagues who were big light trophy hunters in their youth are now contemplative photographers searching to making the extraordinary out of the ordinary. In my opinion, these old guys (few women hunt trophies) are producing deeper and richer work than ever before (women seem to do that much earlier than men). Maybe it is just part of the evolution of the photographic artist to look deeper in themselves by practicing more contemplative photography. Or maybe trophy hunting is just too hard for old guys 😉
Anyway here are my ten photos (not sure if they are trophies) from the night I barely remember ;-). Stupid brain!