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Posts Tagged ‘art’

I’ve discovered that learning photography is not unlike studying writing. Everyone seems to think they can write a book, but it takes a lot more than just putting some words on paper to weave a good story together. There is an art form to it. The same goes for photography. Now that cameras are in plentiful supply, mostly on everyone’s phones, there is a huge surge of amateurs trying to be artistic without actually studying what makes a photo good.

Don’t get me wrong, I still consider myself to be an amateur in many ways because I’m still learning. Plus I have nothing against the average person wanting to take pictures. But there are many things that I’ve finally mastered and a lot of trial and error that has made me realize why photographers do what they do, and it’s given me a little more respect for the ones who go above and beyond.

Getting up at 4am to go for a hike so you can get to a particular location by 7am is not necessarily the most fun thing in the world when you’re not a morning person. (Which I’m not.) But I gotta tell you, that light makes for some pretty spectacular photos.

Case in point:

UpperFalls1

That flowy water effect? Not possible unless you have softer light. Just after dawn or right before dusk is best. (There’s a reason they call it “Golden Hour.”)

So how much of a difference does the proper lighting really make? Well, I happened to come across one of my first photos the other day, after I visited the exact same spot nearly two years later. It’s not a bad photo, and to be perfectly honest I was quite proud of it when I first took it. I had just barely started taking photography seriously, and this was a completely new location to me. It happened to be at the lovely Green Lakes, located in my beautiful home state of Oregon. It’s a very popular hike, often used as training grounds for marathon runners. It’s a full four miles to get to the lakes themselves, but once you’re there, it’s spectacular.

The lakes are nestled in between two large mountains, the South Sister and Broken Top. As her name implies, the South Sister is furthest south of a trio of peaks known as the Three Sisters. They’re all roughly around 10,000 feet in elevation, with South Sister as the tallest of the three.

As I went through my current pictures, I remembered taking similar photos two years ago and decided to see how far my photography has come. Low and behold, I found my original:

DSC_0835

Again, it’s not a bad photo. The lakes really are that emerald color (hence their name) and the looming peak of South Sister is much more intimidating in person. I used this photo in my first ever calendar that I gave to friends and family as a Christmas present. However, this shot was taken mid-afternoon, probably at the peak of the day, which is the worst lighting one can ask for when it comes to photos.

When I hiked it again this year, I went much earlier in the day and got to the lakes while it was still morning. That meant we missed a lot of the crowds, and because the sun wasn’t directly overhead, the lake looked like this instead:

SouthSister1

Technically, a little bit earlier would have been even better, but I’m quite happy with how these turned out overall. Within the space of an hour, this reflection was no longer visible and there were several other people in the area, including several who decided to go for a swim. I don’t begrudge them wanting to swim, of course, but that would have put quite a crimp in my style if I had still been trying to capture images.

I still have a long ways to go, I know. But I’m really happy with how far I’ve come. There are lots of doors and opportunities opening for me, and I’m thrilled to take advantage of every single one that comes my way.

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I really appreciate all of the support that I’ve received in starting my own business, and that includes from readers of this blog. My amazing friends and family are already spreading the word, and every time I see that my page is shared on FB, I get a happy feeling. 😀

So why photography? Don’t get me wrong, writing is still one of my primary passions in life. But photography and graphic design is incredibly rewarding in its own right. When you learn how to post-process photos and add your own creative flair to them, you get amazing results. As I’ve played around with settings over the years, I’ve had fun watching my own personal style grow and transform. That’s part of your marketing strategy. Yes, there might be a ton of other pictures out there of the mountains or forests, but what makes yours unique? I guess my ultimate goal is that someday, people will be able to look at one of my photos and automatically know that it’s mine because it will be different enough from all the others.

While I still have a lot to learn (like night/astral photography for one), I’ve been fortunate to have access to the works of certain photographers who have helped give me some great advice. For example, I can now take a variety of pictures and know how to post-process them in a way that I never could before. I mean, I can take a photo like this:

SmithRockUnedited

This was taken up at Smith Rock State Park, practically in my little city’s backyard. It’s one of the most visited tourist spots in our area.

And I can make it into something ethereal, almost other-worldly with its colors and effects:

SmithRock17

Does it look surreal? Sure it does. But that’s the beauty of photography. We are able to take something that seems too good to be true and bring people happiness whenever they get to see it. I think that’s part of what really drives me as a landscape/nature photographer. I love the idea of being able to capture an image for someone who might never get the chance to see that place in real life. And for the locals here who have gotten to hike this thing multiple times, it’s fun for them to recognize their own landscape on a greeting card or in a calendar.

To me, this is what makes both writing and photography such great professions. When I write a story, I want to take my readers to a whole different world, where they can forget their everyday life and enjoy seeing what my characters will do next. When I take a photo, I want to let people imagine what that place must be like and give them a little bit of peace every time that they look at it hanging on their wall.

Life is amazing, guys. After the hardships that I endured for so many years, I never thought that I could experience this kind of happiness in doing what I love for a living. It’s hard work. But it is oh so rewarding.

Follow your dreams. Do what you love. Never give up.

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It’s a commonly known fact that Husband and I don’t really want children of our own. That certainly may change someday, but for right now we’re content to look after our furry friends and call it good. While even that has some down sides, like having to change litter boxes and deal with some extra drool, the lovin’s are worth it. (Although my so-called “clumping action” kitty litter has failed to actually be “clumpable.” We are not amused. After meticulously scooping what felt like every single soaked grain of kitty litter individually into a plastic bag, I lifted it up only to discover that there was a hole in the bottom of it. That left a nice trail of … um, stuff on the floor. *grrrrhulksmash*)

Sorry, random tangent. The real reason for this post was to state that if I ever change my mind about having a kid, it’s bedroom is going to be decorated … like this! OMG, cuteness overload. And no, I don’t care if it was for a boy or a girl, that is freaking awesome. Although I might have to mix and match with this. I love the name Chewbacca. I still want to have a dog named that someday.

Of course, if it was up to me, my entire house would be decorated in video game/fantasy decor. Husband is the one who says it has to look all “grown-up.” Puh. How could he not love to see people setting their drinks on awesome Zelda coasters? (I do actually have some Lord of the Rings coasters, but they’re part of my collection, so I don’t tend to use them much. And yes, I collect random LOTR stuff. Someday, my collection shall be on display for all to see! Or at least all who come in my house. Provided Husband actually finishes the game room downstairs.)

I would make my entire house look like it came out of Lord of the Rings if I thought I could get away with it. I still love re-watching those movies. I remember the first time I saw Fellowship of the Ring and how utterly entranced I was. That simply fueled my already established elf fetish, which began the first time I saw Link in Ocarina of Time. Link has been hugely inspiring for me. In fact, he’s one of the few characters that I’ve actually done fan-art of:

They’re not perfect, but they were fun projects to do. I’ve been feeling the itch to start drawing again. These two drawings were done nearly three years ago. Sadly, I must give the usual lament, “If only I had enough time in the day!” Perhaps with the changing of seasons and the new opportunities coming my way, this will be something I can do once again. I haven’t tried to draw Twilight Princess Link yet. I think I sense my next art adventure. 😀

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