"Out of the chaos the imagination frames a thing of beauty"
J.L. Lowes, The Road to Xanadu
Mode of transportation, Verdi, Nevada
In the nearly three years since I started QWC I've been surprised to find that photography has become a bigger and bigger part of my creative expression.
I by no means consider myself a real photographer (which explains my reaction when a photography society asked me to come speak about my "work" - I laughed, replying that I don't actually know what I'm doing. Bad answer; never say this about anything you do). Honestly the greatest contribution to taking better photos was getting my hands on a good camera.
My mother and Mr. Greenjeans, my biggest cheerleaders, gave me the camera equipment I use: A Canon EOS Rebel T1i, 500D; the 15 mega-pixel count is good for enlargements, sharing and print quality. I have a couple of additional lenses and a tripod, though I admit I rarely use them. My extra battery pack and sturdy case were both very good ideas. I also took an online blogging class that included some useful photography tips. That's it.
I know very little about aperture or F-stops. I use my mode dial (the one with the cute little icons depicting the type of picture you're taking - just turn the dial to the icon of the flower if you're taking a close-up, a mountain if it's a landscape - pretty idiot proof). I often opt to turn off my flash because of the pesky reflection.
Thank goodness for digital photography because I can take a gazillion shots and not kill a bunch of film. I use my camera's display screen to review and make adjustments to the shots along the way but I quaintly use the old-fashioned viewfinder as I take each picture instead of the screen - some habits die hard.
My technique, if you could call it that, is to take pictures of subjects that illicit an emotional response for me. It can be the way light washes over an object; a wistful or haunting subject; something (or someone) that exhibits the patina of time, of a life lived; an interesting pattern within chaos is always compelling to me; someone I love. It's the emotional connection, feeling something that is crucial.
Since I don't know much about the technical operation of my camera, I rely on after-the-fact editing tools. I can't stress having a good photo editing program enough. These days there are so many good programs out there online (often free of charge and super easy to use), there's simply no reason not to utilize one to improve your photos. I use the editing tools to create the image I saw in my mind's eye when I took the picture, or a better way to say it is the one I saw with my heart.
A turning point in my photography came when I was given Annie Leibovitz's Pilgrimage. I was so inspired by the pictures compiled within Pilgrimage's pages! Basically, Leibovitz, the photographer best known for celebrity and fashion images depicted in the pages of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, went on a personal pilgrimage taking pictures of places and things associated with people who fascinate her.
Annie's images range from Abraham Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat and gloves to Georgia O'Keeffe's northern New Mexico; Thoreau's writing desk and cot from Walden Pond; Annie Oakley's boots and bullet pierced playing card. Museum curators and directors of special collections gave her unrivaled access to many of their rarely viewed artifacts and hidden treasure troves.
Additionally, Annie photographed Niagara Falls, Old Faithful and some other destinations simply because, like the other subjects, they meant something to her. It's as if she read my very own bucket list of places and things that I too would want to visit and document - and some I already have.
My Pedernal...that I took in 2011 and mounted on canvas...
I also look forward to the Photography Edition of Cowboys & Indians magazine that hits newsstands each January for the inspiration it never fails to provide. Each year "the premier magazine of the west" introduces talented photographers, some known, some little known, who have made it their mission to document the west; its landscape, the wildlife, its people and the lifestyle. Eye candy of the most delicious kind!
I've been so inspired by both Pilgrimage and Cowboys & Indians (as well as other photographers) that back in mid-November I took my own pictures of a place that fascinated me and also happened to be in the west. I was visiting with friends in Verdi, Nevada, while exploring early one morning, I stumbled upon this abandoned mine and miner's shack. I ignored the no trespassing signs and fought off two large scary looking dogs - which added to the excitement and fun - to get these pictures. I hope in some small way they inspire you to go out and take some photos of your own! If I can do it, believe me, you can too!
The Truckee River, Verdi, Nevada...
The hills of Verdi...do you see a man playing a flute?...hmm,could be a tree...
Pieces of boomtown...
A sideways view...
Helpful sites and information:
For dates and locations of a Smithsonian traveling exhibit of
Annie Leibovitz images from Pilgrimage go to:
For subscriptions to Cowboys & Indians go to:
For copies of Pilgrimage:
or wherever fine books are sold
Photo editing site: https://www.picmonkey.com
Images herein are either by the author or are from A. Leibovitz or Cowboys&Indians for review only.