Friday, November 11, 2016

A Photographic Journey: The Intimate Landscape in Details



A Photographic Journey:

The Intimate Landscape in Details


Forest Floor Detail, Wolfville Watershed Nature Preserve

A Little Background


My name is Chris Sheppard and my passion is to photograph the natural world. Particularly the incredible beauty I find here in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.
I'm picking up the Fundy Rocks Journal entries again because I have reached a cross roads in my photographic journey. I am known for sharing local scenes under the name Fundy Rocks which evolved from years of local rockhounding adventures that got me into serious photography in the first place.
Looking back over my portfolio the quality of light at dusk and dawn (in twilight) exemplifies my work and style. I consider myself in essence a fine art photographer more by approach than the content of my work. Labels are difficult. I don't pretend that all of the images I make are fine art photographs but my goal is to share an image that reflects myself as an artist with an emotional message to give and vision to share. I'm not interested in making "post card" images of local scenes using well worn formulas and overused clichés like big foregrounds with blazing sun stars on a distant horizon just for the dynamic punch. I am after something far more subtle and difficult to achieve. A more personal and lasting effect.



Symphony of Light, North Medford


This process is time consuming and at times frustrating beyond belief. Overcoming the fear of the unknown. Hiking solo in the dark over difficult terrain in all weather and seasons trusting in my knowledge of local tides and conditions. Not having the best quality equipment for the job. Sacrificing comfort and sleep to put myself in a location that might offer up a glimpse of the sublime if all of the elements come together. This has happened a few times in my photographic journey and the rewards are incredible. With these photographs come memories that will last a lifetime. The potential to capture something special keeps me going and trying.


Cape Split at Nightfall



A familiar landscape or seascape can be transformed by a fleeting moment of extraordinary light, the right weather or tidal conditions or everything at once! This process only begins with the capture. If I have previsualized an image I will certainly have an idea which direction I will take the digital negative in post processing to create a final photograph I feel is worth sharing. It may look substantially different than the Raw file I started with. Sometimes not.
 
Autumn Twilight, Cape Blomidon
I recently had a lady contact me about purchasing a print of Cape Blomidon for her son's office. After sharing with her a couple of my available Blomidon images she said she was looking for something more recognizable and "traditional". This to me was a great compliment. I was heading in the right direction by making images uniquely mine. I don't want my images to look like something you could witness at any time. Special circumstances must be present to transform the scene and I must be confident in my technique so I can devote my attention to finding the strongest composition possible. I don't care how talented a photographer might be, this takes years of practice and familiarity with equipment and exposure strategies.


Paddy's Island at Dawn

This has been a particularly stressful year in which life for the most part got in the way of my creative work.  It took over my ability to concentrate on making meaningful photographs and I now need to challenge myself with photographic goals and commit to them. I must learn to overcome the ongoing frustrations I have with my equipment, pressure to deliver images to followings on various social media and start making images for myself that satisfy a need to be creative and for the pure joy of it again. Create personal favorites that may endure and I might be proud to share. Hopefully they will resonate with other like minded folks. Photographs I could hang on my wall and live with every day. Get back into nature for the profound health benefits. I will still make grand images in my mind, previsualize and study the weather and tides to put myself in the best locale during optimal conditions. But I will continue to make photographs of details and scenes that simply capture my attention as I explore by keeping an open mind and heart because pictures are everywhere if I'm ready to find them.
 

The Details!


“The beauty of the natural world lies in the details.”

— Natalie Angier

Ice Formation, Lumsden Pond

These intimate detail photographs become some of my lasting favorites. As I move along on my photographic journey I am constantly studying new techniques and absorbing quality writings and images from photography books and magazines. I collect quality landscape photography books and can't get enough of them! I never tire of looking at details like I would a grand sunrise seascape no matter how dynamic or colorful.

Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject
- Eliot Porter
November Leaves, Gaspereau Ravine
The possibilities for creative photography with intimate detail images are great. They demand strict attention to composition and the visual design elements in the photograph. I always crop my images in the field for maximum file size and quality. I can't even try to make a worthwhile image without a tripod. I need the discipline and ritual of careful set up. I need to concentrate carefully on the task at hand while keeping my eyes and ears open to my surroundings.
Twilight Ripples, Ells Creek Beach
 "One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are" - Minor White
I carry a framing card which is basically a white 8 x 10 matte and hold it up to whatever catches my attention. By closing one eye I can get a sense of the final image. This works surprisingly well. What I  keep outside that frame is as critical as the content within.



It is difficult to not give into the ease and temptation for the junk food of landscape photography. Those glorious sunsets and sunrises that gives the viewer a quick fix and are so popular on social media. With few exceptions these types of landscape photographs lose appeal and interest to me over time. I need something healthier right now. I know pursuing the intimate details will allow me more opportunity for creative expression, fulfillment, and ultimately enjoyment but it will always come at a price. Fewer Facebook "likes" and "shares" and not as many requests for prints. For now, I think it is worth the price to produce something that is original, hopefully creative, and definitely from my heart. Something unique. 

I hope you enjoy! I look forward to sharing more in the way of blogs in the near future. Thank you for following Fundy Rocks and if you enjoy this content please pass it along to a friend. I'd love to hear from you too.

Information and Prints!

 We have updated our pricing formula for Fundy Rocks prints by Chris Sheppard. Giclée prints of exceptional quality are done here in the Annapolis Valley and many sizes and framing options are possible.  If you are interested in a print or joining Fundy Rocks on a future adventure or would like more information on rockhounding or my photography I’d love to hear from you. Email fundyrocksgroup@gmail.com 





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