I am reading Alain Briot’s book Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style. It isn’t exactly an easy read but he’s meticulous about his images and works hard to “optimize” them before release. I enjoyed his section, albeit a bit long, on how many people think it is the camera that gets him or Ansel or Galen the great images they create. Anyone who shoots with purpose knows that this is simply not true. The optics in cell phone cameras and small digital cameras tend to be vastly more capable than many of the operators who own them. It’s the light that matters most and what the camera operator does with it follows along right behind.
Alain’s description of how image capture is only the start of the work of making the image for print and presentation struck me as particularly relevant to my current situation. I admit that I spend what seems like too long on a file to make adjustments to contrast and such. Alain’s description of optimization not only gives me license to do this but makes me feel like I’m slacking off. I have a lot to learn about how to optimize a digital file for presentation in print or on the web.
As I was cleaning some images off the iPad to make room for others I re-discovered a few images I took recently while at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns, OR. As the sun was setting on my last day there I was stationed outside the Refuge border and had been admiring a huge eagle nest clinging to a cliff. My friends Deigh and Dave are responsible for my being there to see this huge structure. It was impressive. But then I turned around and looked in the distance. Great towering cumulus clouds were forming and moving. I love clouds like these and miss them where I live. When ever we visit Montana I probably drive Chad and Devri crazy with my comments about the beauty of the area and “their clouds”. So I took a few shots and headed back to Burns for yet another uneventful evening.
Briot’s words made me open this file today and work toward “optimizing”. I’ll continue to play with it to see about some local contrast and brightness but for now it captures the sense of awe I felt at the moment.