“To know ahead of time what you’re looking for means that you’re then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting and often false” – Dorthea Lange
Whether The Weather Will Win?
Occasionally when people come into a workshop or anything they are about to photograph for that matter, they come in with a preconception of what they want, and they are only looking for ways to realize that vision. Photography, and especially landscape photography change day by day, hour by hour and even minute by minute. The lighting, weather, time of year, tide, celestial phases along with a whole host of other things will influence your imagery. If you show up to an iconic location that you have spent a lot of time and money to get to and you have a storm rolling through instead of the multicolored sunset you had seen in your favorite photo mag, most people would end up disappointed and head back to the hotel to check the score of the game. The thing is though, there is always something to photograph. If you had an expectation of sun-kissed sand dunes and end up with a sandstorm, there is an opportunity there to create an image that is different than what everybody else has photographed.
As someone that leads photography workshops for a living, this is something I am faced with on a continual basis. This is not a complaint, believe me! I love getting people to look at a scene in a different way than they are used to. Last year during the annual Death Valley workshop, we ended up having sandstorms that socked us in for the majority of the week. Sure, there weren’t as many moonlit landscapes as we had hoped for, but there were some one-of-a-kind images that are very different than the standard blue sky and a sand dune shot everyone else has from Death Valley. You just have to be open to the experiences that you are faced with and adapt your game plan to work within those parameters. In last year’s Moab workshop there were everpresent rain clouds that threatened us at every corner. In both cases, there were some stunning images created that were very different than what people originally expected. People came away with 3ooft waterfalls during flash floods that weren’t there minutes before and that would disappear within hours. If you click on either of the links above, you can see the images in the look back to those workshops.
This Year’s Oregon Trip
This was the maiden trip for the workshop, The Oregon Coast – Just A Little From The Middle. We had one previous LSJ workshop participant, but as for everyone else, this was their first time around. The group was really great and there was a comradery between everyone right off the bat. The Oregon coast is known for its cool grey weather, and the status quo was certainly in place for our first evening of shooting. Luckily, just as the sun was setting, the clouds parted enough to light the sky up in dramatic pinks and oranges.
The next morning the fog and marine layer looked like they were trying their hardest to burn off for us, but it never happened. The cloudy Oregon coast had come with its steely best. Never the less, this posed a great opportunity to play in black and white. When you are photographing in black and white, you are looking at things differently than you would in color. Instead of looking at how the greens play off the pinks in an image, you are looking at how the light green sits next to the dark green with an even lighter green border around it. The darks and lights make up the tones that are the subject matter for B&W photography. We set out for the day with the hopes of the fog parting, but with black and white on the brain. For many of the participants, it was their first time really delving into B&W photography. For the next two days as we played between Yachats, the Oregon Dunes, and Bandon, B&W was the main focus. I don’t get to shoot a lot during workshops because I am helping people with their photography, but here are a few of the B&W shots I was able to get off in between.
The Cloudy Grip Releases (Sort Of)
On our last shooting day, we started off with a trip to the lighthouse just outside of town and a wander through old town Bandon. After lunch, everyone had a one on one session with Lightroom to help with a couple of the images that they had captured so far and then we got ready for our last evening of shooting. All day the sky had looked like it was clearing and by the time sunset was rolling around, like the first night, it was mostly cloudy, but some colors worked their way through. By the time the moon took over, the sky was clear enough to continue with a little night shooting. We didn’t have too long though before the smoke from nearby fires covered the light of the moon. You can check out images from the participants in the Student Gallery here. I will be adding them as they send them in, so make sure to check back to see what they have done!