photography from the ground up

The Evolution Of Vision

Artistic vision is not something that is easy to define, at least not in terms of individual style. It is something that is (or should) always be changing, evolving. When I look at the work that I was doing five years ago, I am struck by the difference from that which I am doing today. That’s as it should be. If I could see no discernible change, I would be worried that my creativity is stagnating.

Vision has to do not only with the subject matter you shoot, or the way you choose to capture it. It is also about how you take the image from the one in the camera to the one that hangs on the wall. So, post processing is just as important to expressing your vision as the initial capture, perhaps more important. This first image was made one January day on the edge of what was soon to become the Valles Caldera National Preserve and after many years of learning and evolving, both in my shooting style and in my processing technique, this is still one of my favorite photographs.

I tell my Beginning Digital Photography students that they should always be looking for new ways to present their subjects and of course this extends to the work they do in the digital darkroom. I made the above image in 2002. It is a close-up of burned tree bark that I took in the burn scar of the Lake Fire. This is pretty representative of the work I was doing at that time: close-up/macro/intimate landscapes.

The third image was made several years later and it is one of the very few I made during that time that included a hint of anything man-made. All of these photographs were made using film cameras. The first two were shot with a Nikon F3, the second, a Nikon F100. All three were made using Fuji Velvia transparency film.

Sometime around 2005, I began to feel that my strict adherence to shooting almost exclusively macro/close-ups was stifling my creativity and I began to broaden my horizons (both literally and figuratively). I had also purchased my first digital camera, a Nikon D200. Looking back, I think the new-found freedom of no longer being constrained by the cost of film played a major role in my ability to experiment with a new shooting style.

This black and white landscape was an early attempt to further break from my habit of excluding man-made elements from my images. I still hadn’t perfected my B&W conversion technique, but it was a step in the right direction.

When I was shooting mostly macro, I preferred diffuse lighting; no shadows means clearer details, but as I began to see the broad landscape, I began to take advantage of the multi-faceted nature of light. In the five images above, I make use of different kinds of lighting: overcast, early morning, evening, and mid-day with partial overcast. They each paint the landscape with a different brush and each portrays a different mood.

Lately, my work has come full circle, back to the subjects I was pursuing when I first started out all those years ago, which is to say–anything and everything. The difference is, I now have the expertise I lacked back then, so I am able to show my viewers what I saw in my mind’s eye before I released the shutter. That’s a good feeling, but it doesn’t mean that I feel I’ve reached some kind of photographer’s Nirvana; I am excited to see what kind of curve my vision will throw me next.

14 responses

  1. Reblogged this on Transparent Speaker.


    August 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

  2. I’m still very much at the start of my photographic career if you like and I’m not sure how my photography is going to evolve. I started with the intention of concentrating purely on the broader landscape but just lately have found myself experimenting with a bit of macro work. It was interesting to read about your journey. Thanks for sharing it Jim.


    August 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    • Thanks Chillbrook. It’s hard to tell where our vision will take us, but it’s fun to look back to see where we’ve been.


      August 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

  3. some stunning landscape shots 🙂


    August 15, 2012 at 12:25 am

  4. Colin Wyllie

    Very cool images, I find myself wondering what is down the road in the last image.


    August 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

  5. Such beautiful landscape work.


    August 16, 2012 at 1:46 am

  6. The pic with the window and the door and the one with the fence are especially great!


    August 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm

  7. What a perspective! Superb shot.


    July 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

  8. THaks for sharing. I am inspirating myself to photograh again…


    November 27, 2014 at 8:56 am

Tell Me What You Think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s