Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Looking up! Photographing subjects in difficult places.

I recently painted and then mounted a bird-form piece of driftwood on the top of a tall pole in my yard. Not difficult to make and only mildly dangerous up the ladder, but a challenge to photograph later. 

From ground level, even with my maximum zoom lens, it still looked like a tiny blob so out came the step ladder which I could move around to try different angles. From one angle the 'Raven' was bigger, but still a black silhouette, and when the sun burned through the overcast I had glare into the lens. Only then did I realize that my 'problem' was really my best creative solution. Raven, in coastal mythology is the one who stole light and released it into the heavens, and here, if I could control it, was Raven and the sun together. By putting the bright light behind a fir branch and then turning the camera to achieve a more dynamic angle for the pole I got a useful shot.

I also decided to photograph the crow on its nest of twigs that faces back across the driveway towards Raven. Once more I used the step ladder, tried a number of angles and settled on one that showed the detail of the carving, its forward leaning stance and 'nest'.

There was something creative but practical about this self assignment. In reality, although the subject matter was unusual, the same concerns applied here as in any other photograph, how to achieve the best possible image within the lighting and physical conditions present at the time. As in a wedding assignment, or garden spread for a magazine for example.

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