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 Nature Photography :: Essays

Musings: Random Thoughts of a Photographer
Every now and again I have a thought...no really.

Digital manipulation
A rather long artical about the ethics of manipulating images.
"In the end it boils down to trust; the viewer must be able to trust the photographer. Photography’s unique position as an art form that closely depicts reality should not be discarded lightly."
Uluru Rules, OK.
Uluru (Ayres Rock) is one of the greatest Australian icons, but there are a lot of rules about what you can photograph.
"Therefore you can climb the world’s largest monolith, but leave your camera behind as any shots taken while there, say of Kata Tjuta, or even the car park, cannot be used because they imply that you did the climb."
Nature is Big
Some navel gazing on a narrow ledge overlooking the Budawang Ranges, after making Last Light on Yadboro.
"...no matter how important one gets, no matter how much money one makes, no matter how many book signings one has or photos one sells; in the great hurricane of life we are each but a single gnat’s fart."
Insult to Photographers
Some people have no idea what a photograph should be worth. I recently had an offer to buy my photos for $4 a piece, FOR ALL RIGHTS!
"So, in return for neglecting the normal operations of his or her business, the hapless photographer receives $1200 gross and nets $164. Even assuming only eight hours a day on the job, that's 69c an hour! "
Dark vs Light
There's been so much written about digital vs. traditional photography that I'm loathe to add another couple of hundred words...but then being loathe to do something doesn't usually stop me from doing it.
"It doesn't matter how you produce your prints. Do what fits your lifestyle and what's appropriate for your audience, whether that be MoMA or your Mom."
It's the Light that Matters
Obviously you need a subject to make a photograph, but it's more important to have the right light.
"Always keep in mind that, as a photographer, you do not photograph objects, you photograph the light reflected from them."
Shearing Sheds
Sometimes I get invited to photograph fascinating old buildings on farms. When I get there I meet equally fascinating people.
"while in the ancient laundry, amid bottles of developer and selenium toner, a Beseler 45 enlarger stands proud, complete with cold light head and voltage stabiliser."
Within and Without
Ansel Adams talked of assignments from "within" and "without", and so do I.
"After a few years I realised that, although I refused to actually take on work for others, I was effectively, accepting assignments from without. A lot of people were determining what I did with my time, and most of those people weren't me!"
When the Elements Decide
Sometimes nature plays a hand in technical decisions.
"Setting up the camera to take the photo I realised why the rock remained so wet. A wave broke nearby, swamping my feet and the rock and drenching the camera with spray."
A Cropping Story
Some people advocate the printing of negatives "full frame", I disagree.
"I cropped the image and was pleased to find that not only did I have a print that was easier to make but, more importantly, I also had a simpler and stronger image."

A Minute Passed
Sometimes there's nothing to do but think about the image during it's exposure.

"But what was I 'getting in'?...Where was the interesting part?...Photography is as much about leaving things out as it is about getting them in."

Fuzzy Water
I like the so-called 'cotton wool' affect, but it's not always appropriate.

"As predicted, in the longer exposure the streaks have disappeared into a blur, which doesn't show the affect I had in mind at all."
Why Black & White
Everybody uses colour, why limit your options?
"Forget the 'golden hour', a colour photographer often only has a few minutes of quality light, whereas his monochrome friend may actually get an hour or so."
The Ephemeris
Some things are just too beautiful to photograph.
"I rejected the camera and as a result I have the image and the experience permanently imprinted in my mind."
Can you affect people with your images or do photographs only mean something to those who were involved?
"The eye contact is intense and haunts me as if I were staring across the decades at the woman herself."
  Being a Nature Photographer
This is a long article about what I feel is involved in becoming a full-time nature photographer.
"For centuries chemists and scientists searched for a method of turning common materials into gold. In the 1800s photography was invented and the search was over."
Should photographers caption their images or should we leave well enough alone?
"Edward Weston did caption his photos, but with names like Eroded Rock, Cow Tree Barn and Pepper #30 I think it’s fair to say that he wasn’t trying to add any meaning to his images."
Style and Related Matters
How does one achieve a distinct photographic style? Actually I don't really know, but that doesn't stop me writing about it.
"I believe that "you see what you are", therefore the only lasting and worthwhile style will be one that reflects your personality."
Relaxing this Landscape Photography
A short story about the thousand steps involved in making a large format image, and some of the things that can go wrong when you are in a hurry.
The Rise and Fall of the View Camera
An example and brief description of using one of the main view camera movements.
"The principals of optics described by Herr Scheimpflug’s rule are the reason those large format calendar shots seem to have an impossible depth of field"
Landscape Photography
Is it socially responsible to photograph the landscape or should we be documenting the worlds troubles?
"To photograph the landscape during the thirties and forties was considered by many to be irrelevant at best, and inhumane at worst."
Emotional Highs and Lows
A longish story about bad weather, friends leaving and joy at the mountain light.
"I began asking myself why I even bother walking to these difficult places when there are great photos to be made within metres of the car. Later that day my question would be answered."
Take Only Photographs
An excerpt from another photographer's story detailing the clear felling technique he uses to prepare the landscape for a photo. Then my thoughts on minimum impact photography.
"By now I hope you’re thinking, 'What the hell is this Rob Gray bloke doing cutting down trees for a photo?' "
The VCR Principle
Australia's wilderness areas are ever decreasing and what's left are under increasing pressure from tourists, bushwalkers et al. Are landscape photographers making it worse?
"As landscape photographers, we bridge the gap between the wilderness and the public. Thousands of people can view the wilderness through our eyes without actually going there and increasing the strain on the environment"
The Size of the Rat
English mountain climbers have an expression for that which drives them. How does it apply to landscape photographers?
"Eventually the discomfort caused by my rodent became larger than that of leaving my sleeping bag. I dressed quickly, grabbed my camera equipment and walked through the chill air..."
What is a Landscape?
A very short definition of what constitutes a landscape according to Rob.
"You show me an Australian landscape photographer who is only interested in spectacular vistas and I’ll show you a sad landscape photographer."
Finally I See the Landscape
The story of a solo walk in which I don't take a camera (well not a real one anyway), and as a result I get to experience the landscape for a change.
"As long as I live I will never forget this moment. I have no photographic record, just a memory, but it's more real and vivid than anything I could create with silver halides."
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PO Box 450, Gin Gin, QLD, Australia.