How Do You Create Art With Your Landscape Photography?
How does one start on an artistic journey in landscape photography? I knew from the first time I invested in my first “good” digital camera; I would eventually want to express something unique in my work. It was an ill-defined something that was only to become clear many years down the road.
I did not formally attend a school for art with an emphasis on photography. What I have learned comes from accomplished landscape artists, following their lead and direction. I like the master-apprentice model of learning. That style of learning expects, even demands, maintaining a spirit of learning, which allows a bit of humility to remember to always keep an open heart for learning something new.
Previously, during my self-taught years, I took typical, snapshot-style travel photos. Years ago, while attending an early photography workshop, I was told that a great place to start making art was to exaggerate. “Whatever you do, exaggerate something” was the advice.
So, what did that that practically mean? Exaggerate what, and how to do it? I remembered being puzzled at that statement. Thankfully, clarity came shortly. I’ve been experimenting with this technique ever since.
I’ve come up with some ways that this can be incorporated into a photographer’s work.
The first is to exaggerate through composition. Use a wide-angle lens to exaggerate the foreground. Make the foreground half of the image itself. A wide-angle can also be used to emphasize the sky, making it seem bigger and a focal point of the image. Change your perspective to get an exaggeration of a single element, something close to you, such as a single large plant or rock.
A second idea for exaggeration can be accomplished while processing. You can change the image by stretching or warping. Exaggerate a specific element by using many of the transformation tools in Photoshop. You can also design a specific color palette. Embellish the color and transform your image into a uniquely personal expression of art.
I have spent many years focusing on this technique. I still find it valuable whether it’s something I see at my feet or in the distance. And when I process, I find exaggeration expands my creative horizons as well.
Throughout these years my favorite lens for exaggeration has been the Zeiss 18 mm for the Canon EF system. I found the Zeiss to be a clearly superior lens to the Canon offerings in the sub-20mm range. The clarity throughout the image capture and in print is truly amazing.
When I am unsure what the scene will need, I have successfully used the Canon EF 12-24mm lens.
The idea of exaggeration may be difficult to grasp for anyone just beginning in traditional landscape photography. If is certainly not in the vernacular of portrait, journalistic, or street photography. However, a simple look at successful landscape photographers shows the common use of foreground exaggeration to add an artistic presentation.
Once your landscape photography adventures become stale and looks like everyone else’s (as mine had), think about adding exaggeration for some creativity and interest.
I share an intimacy with the world in which we live. I participate in life from the “bottom up”. That means that I share and show my primary experience in nature. I do not go into nature with a preconceived idea of what I want to capture and show. Instead each photo session is unique and spontaneous. I share that raw and uncensored experience of one person living on this planet and returning with a unique experience. Nothing in my work is rehearsed. My art is also an exploration of my own creative life. It shows the natural world outside the confines of documentary or travel photography. It shows the world as my soul sees it. My art is deliberately manipulated to express what I see. There is no other way. What I see through the camera meets what my soul sees. In the midst of this process emerges my style of photographic art. I transform the world through an entirely digital process, and I share it in print. I roam the world, inspired by a silent love of life, to see what is most meaningful and compelling to me as an artist and an individual. The experience of our world’s beauty is without and beyond words. But it can be seen without having to name it. That is what I express in my work…the wordless. I do not know what more one can say about this love of life, except that there is a desire to share it as a tangible fine art print. In that sharing comes the fulfillment of my love of this world and my life within it. What I bring back to share from this complex adventure is a simple, fine art photographic print. As always I can be reached at [email protected] for questions, ideas, or feedback.