Monday, December 03, 2007

Big Bend and other mysteries of the Landscape.

I've been working on the digital files that I made in October while on my first trip to Big Bend National Park.
I had the good fortune to travel with my friend David and his friend and long time mentor, Bill Zaner. Bill and David are landscape painters, they make their living selling their paintings, no small feat indeed.

I'm learning something about picturing the landscape in two dimensions.
1. It's not easy to do it well.
2. Most "landscape" photographers don't do it as well as most good landscape painters.
3. I have a lot to learn about making interesting landscape photographs.

I believe that painters have an advantage over photographers when it comes to making interesting pictures of the landscape. As I watched Bill and David it was clear that as painters they have the ability and opportunity to ad lib. One morning as we sat bedside the road watching the sun rise over the mountain, Bill demonstrated how he does it. He set up his easel and painted a small picture. First the "rough sketch" done with a paper towel and then he set about "painting". It wasn't long and a picture started to emerge from the apparent mess on the canvas, all brought about by his skillful addition of color. As he appeared to be close to the end, he looked at the picture and said something to the affect, "This needs something!", and to the clear blue, bright morning sky, he added a couple of clouds. Whether or not the picture "needed" clouds is a matter of opinion, but it does point up a very real difference between the painter and the photographer.

I know it's obvious to all of you out there but I'm not the brightest bulb in the fixture and it wasn't all that obvious to me. As a photographer, I fancy that I like to follow Walker Evans comment, "I like saying, what's what." and that doesn't mean adding clouds to the bright blue morning sky if they aren't there in the first place. Well guess what ? Digital changes all that.

More later...

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