I don’t have a single photo that was a turning point in my photography but I did have a pivotal moment this year when I suddenly realized I might have gotten into photography “over my head” (literally!).Darwin always taught that photographers should give themselves an assignment, something to challenge them. This year I decided to give myself the assignment to photograph the parks in my hometown in all seasons of the year. I already had some nice shots of one of the parks in autumn. So now I needed to take some shots in spring.A little research at the Recreation Dept. revealed that there were many more parks than I ever had realized. I’ve lived here 8 years and had only visited 3 of them. Turns out there was a park a couple of miles away that I had never seen. I soon discovered that it was a woodland with some hiking trails and a short boardwalk over a wetland. Woods are best shot in overcast light, so I went there one cloudy day. I took a shot of the boardwalk but realized that it could use a hiker standing on it looking out over the swamp, so I needed to find a victim…I mean, subject…. and return there.In the wetland, however, were some great fiddleheads of ferns that were just unfurling. I had to get a shot of that. I was wearing my muck boots so in I waded. What a mistake. It was deeper than I had imagined and it was soft like quicksand. I sank in and couldn’t get out. I held my camera up over my head and it didn’t get wet but I needed to use my tripod to give me leverage to inch my way out of there. I was alone and had left my cell phone in the car. Visions flashed in my mind of that scene in the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” where the young Arab child gets off his camel into desert quicksand and is sucked completely in. Luckily, I managed to get out but it could have ended badly.On emerging from the mire, I discovered some additional fiddleheads near the edge of the wetland and despite being soaking wet and covered with mud and filth, I lay down on my stomach in the dirt, set up my filthy tripod, and took the shot with my macro lens. Then I got back to the car, poured the water out of my boots, wrung out my wet socks, drove home and threw everything in the wash and me in the shower. Photography can be a dangerous hobby!!!
I don’t know if I’d really call this image a turning point for me but it certainly has some significance. The reason I wouldn’t definitively say that it was a turning point is that it’s still a relatively new image. I can’t look back to 1991 as Darwin can with his image and say that this image defined my personal style and directed the course of my career… plus I was only a 10 year old boy in the spring of 1991! The image was only made just this past summer, and I’ve had very little of a career per say in the nine months since then. But from some of the feedback I received from my peers and people I really look up to I started to get the feeling that a style was beginning to develop and that maybe I might be starting to get the hang of this stuff.I made this image while on Sam and Darwin’s Buicks Badlands and Old Buildings workshop in Trochu, Alberta. I think part of the reason it is significant to me is that it was one that I really had to work for. Sam and Darwin will attest to the very difficult conditions and challenging location we had on the afternoon this image was made. Harsh mid day sunlight, wind, and a very cluttered and busy scene all added up to an extremely challenging set of conditions for shooting. This was one of the very last images I made that afternoon and when I finally saw it show up on my LCD, I knew that I had literally “worked” all afternoon to find and capture this one shot. I think this one was as much about experiencing that process as it was the final result. I still can’t really say for sure what my style exactly looks like, but I’d like to think that this image represents a significant part of that, and more importantly, what it will become. I’ve only been at this a little while and I think there’s so much more room for a style to grow and evolve. It’s a process I’m looking forward to!
Moeraki Sunstar, created on South Island, New Zealand during a Kah Kit Yoong workshop clearly represents the turning point for me in my transition from birds in flight to landscapes/seascapes with strong foreground images. It also represents my decision to adopt my style – “Nature Interpreted” – and to envision a ‘finished’ scene prior to capture. For me, photography begins with your mind and eyes, and ends with an image representing your vision and your reality of the captured scene; my photography exceeds the camera sensor’s limitations. Capturing and processing landscapes and seascapes allows me to express my vision and reality of Nature.
In the year after I bought my first digital SLR I took a series of meetup photography classes that culminated in a portfolio assignment. Looking around my living room for inspiration, I picked up this nautilus off my bookshelf where it had been collecting dust for 20 years. Immediately I realized its potential for back lit beauty. But more than that – I imagined how it would look with the light of the autumn sunrise bouncing off the water behind it. I knew the feeling I wanted the image to evoke.
For the next several mornings I set up my tripod at the ocean’s edge and with boots, DOF tables and a tape measure I worked and waited until the wind, water and light allowed me to capture the image that I had imagined.
While the path to becoming an artist is a long one, I was able to take the first step after this image. It gave me the confidence to believe that I could create art, not just take photos.
This image of Mount Kidd from an outing to Kananaskis Country, Alberta in May 2005 is what I would consider to be my turning point image. I’ve been (casually) photographing for a few years before this, but my images were lacking and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I guess I’m a really slow learner! 🙂
Shortly before this trip, I attended Darwin’s seminar on mountain photography and it was at this seminar that I learned about light (sidelight/front light/backlight) and how to control it (ND Grad filters/time of day, etc). I was so excited! I bought my first set of ND Grads and headed out to my favorite place in the mountains where I made this image. Image details: Canon 10D with a Tamron 19-35mm lens at 19mm and a ND Grad Filter.
This would be my pivotal image..It was taken in 2009, but I had only been photographing since 2006 with a digital or any camera; when I was in high school, my parents had given me a film camera but I only rarely photographed…a lot of my time was spent painting with oils or acrylics. In 2006, my husband gave me a point and shoot camera which ignited my interest in photography, but I didn’t know where to go with it. After a couple of years I purchased an SLR, then a whole new and quite complex world opened up to me. I started to read about photography, look at images that appealed to me, tested all phases: macro, wildlife, and nature..I couldn’t find my niche..nothing really felt right until I started to look at paintings that I loved: those by Winslow Homer, Joseph Turner, Rembrandt, Constable, Bierstadt and many others..then I realized that landscape spoke to me…then it was a learning curve: grad ND filters, ND filters, polarizers, lenses for landscape…since I live near the coast of Rhode Island, there are many beautiful rocky areas, I began going to the beach to photograph or in the forest behind my house to practice composing…one day at the coast, Beavertail Lighthouse was my subject..and it seemed to me that everything came together for me that night: the setting sun came through the cloud cover at a low level lighting the rocks and lighthouse, my composition felt right and the minute I saw that image, I knew….
What is your most important image? Do you have an image where you finally saw the emergence of your personal style? Is there an image you made that sealed your direction as an artist?” The photo above, taken in the spring of 1991, is THE image that for me told me I had something to say as an artist. It served as a road map for my personal style for years to come and showed me that I could make evocative images from any subject if I paid attention to light and composition. It also showed me that I had a solid understanding of the techniques of the craft. So… simply put, this simple little image of a beat up and forgotten fence in a pasture near Leduc, Alberta was the turning point in my evolution as a photographer – everything I’ve created afterwards has been based on the template set by this image.
Do you have a turning point image? If so send us the image and its story to email@example.com and we’ll share on the oopoomoo blog (please size the image 585 pixels in the long dimension).