28 tries 2 finalists and a tie for 1st

Are you wondering what I might be talking about? Photography. Yes photography. More precisely I am talking about what goes into getting a composition that has that special zing!

I recently complimented someone on what I felt was an excellent capture.

The reply was – yes but do you know how hard I worked to get that one shot? I took tons of photographs and only this one turned out.

Have you had this experience too? I know I sure have! For some reason when a person is a “professional” photographer, loosely defined as a person with a camera that sells her work or is commissioned to take photographs, it is assumed that this person just picks up her equipment and goes out to take great photographs. Not so.

Let’s look at some round numbers. I usually photograph something every day. Most days I take between 50 and 200 images. On a full shooting day I might take 500. These are small numbers for a full-time photographer. But none-the-less these are my numbers. If I take an average of 100 photographs a day times 365 days a year that would be 36,500 photographs. In the past two years on my redbubble site, how many images do you think I have posted for sale?  10,000? A 1,000? 500? Lower still. I have 335 including today’s two winners. Yes I have some keepers that are not for sale. But still – you get the idea. To take good photographs a person must take photographs and a lot of them. Not in a shot-gun style hoping that you get something. But with purpose and intention, building on our learning as we go.

How about we get more specific? In my humble opinion, the most critical decision photographers and artists make is the composition of their subject. For example, after 28 tries at photographing the fog drifting through the trees across the valley, I came up with four compositions I wanted to work through the editing process. I am going to  share with you my personal critique so you can see how I chose the two winners. This doesn’t necessarily make my decisions right. In fact, you might have made different decisions. We each have our own eye and our own intention when capturing an image. However, humour me for a moment and if you like, argue later in the comments.

The first image – A Time to Wonder.

Yes this first image is okay. I like it but the overall square composition is indecisive about whether the darkest tree is the subject or the fog. There is too much room over the top of the trees and my eye keeps wandering around in the fog in the middle wondering what to look at. I will keep it though because if someone wanted to put words at the top as in an advertisement, it would work well. But it is not strong enough to stand on its own.

The second image – Fog Sun Trees

(image is available for purchase HERE)

It is much like the first but with a landscape composition rather than square as in the other. These are typically easier dimensions to work but I have been enjoying exploring the square. The darker tree is dominant with the fog providing a supporting role. With the space on the right it provides visual room for the fog to drift which is underpinned by the tree branches that have been shaped by the predominant winds. The image breathes. The sunlight is catching nicely here and there like frosting on a cake. The frame is tight and dramatic. It is a winner. Off to my  redbubble TREES portfolio it goes!

The third image – Where Our Dreams Go

Yeah, well what can I say? The composition places the significant tree to the right. The front trees take up two-thirds of the image. The fog is nicely dispersed in the background. It is a “nice” image and it should have worked but it doesn’t. There is no “zing.” The image remains flat, dead and uninteresting to my eye. So what is wrong? Huh-uh! There are too many trees the same size and value as the tree I want to stand out. There is the one in front on the right, part of one on the left and two overlapping on the same plane of the photograph on the left as the tree I want to hold our attention. My tree of most interest is lost in a crowd of trees. Trash bin here we come. But I am going to keep the title. I like that!

The fourth image – Lifting

(image is available for purchase HERE)

This is my other finalist. It was one of the last images I shot and was an after thought. I had been at the farthest reach of my new lens. I was loving being able to get up close and kiss the trees in the mist across the valley. But I pulled back and took a couple more shots. One of which is this image. So why is it a winner? My special tree stands out amongst its cousins because now there are many more shapes surrounding it – building towards its uniqueness instead of competing with it. The fog is even more dramatic in this frame because of the heavy mass in the background on left accentuating the steepness and mystery of the hill in the background to the right. The little trees in the foreground left, though not a star attraction, keeping my eye moving back into the frame and towards the tree with the most personality. There is enough context in this frame that the eye lingers and muses on the scene. To put it bluntly, it can’t be eaten in one bite. I like that about it. A way to my redbubble TREES portfolio it goes!

So next time you take a hundred or five hundred photographs to get the one you want, remember – that is what photographers do. They take photographs – a lot of them. Everyday. For years. As we take each photograph we keep learning, studying, critiquing and deciding which ones are keepers. Overtime, our photographs improve and keep improving for as long as we keep taking them. There really are no experts just willing learners.

Well, what do you think?

Sprout Question: What are you willing to do a lot of to get the results you want?

News Flash: Our good friend Patricia from Patricia’s Wisdom has a special Thanksgiving guest post with yours truly and she is giving away a copy of Precious Seconds to one of the people who comment on For Such Beauty is Mine ~ A Guest Post. Might as well take a moment and get your name in the draw.

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com

Early September Walk

How about a long walk? We haven’t been on one together for awhile. It is a warm afternoon and getting close to dinner time so it should be peaceful out on the point. Doesn’t that sound like a great idea?

I knew you would be game. Shall we?

(This image is available for purchase here.)

The arbutus trees are particularly intriguing this time of year….

as their bark splits and peels back to another layer of beauty underneath.

Then there are David’s trees.

“Oh look at this. Have you taken a photo of these yet?”

I hadn’t. So I did.

A quiet ledge. Now this seems to be perfectly designed for a Creative Potager moment. Ahhhhh.

(This image is available for purchase here.)

Then there is this particular arbutus tree! I don’t know how many times I have tried to get it just right in a photograph. Maybe this time. What do you think?

(This image is available for purchase here.)

Well that is it for the sunny west side of our late afternoon September walk. Time to cross over to the dark side. Can you hear the surf through the trees? It won’t take long.

  (This image is available for purchase here.)

The air is still humid and warm with hardly a whisper of relief off the water. The sky is clear. Yet the sea is dark and hugs the shadows along the shore.

(This image is available for purchase here.)

A bit of a puzzle isn’t it?

Time to head for home. We have been over an hour and a half. It is a good thing we brought our water bottles.

———–

As long fingers of fog are blown into our open windows this morning, I shiver and begin closing out the cool dampness. Then I remembered the sea from our walk on the weekend.

(This image is available for purchase here.)

Remember that the late afternoon was warm and humid with hardly a wisp of breeze off the water? Yet, the sea frothed and boiled as it slammed up against the sandstone shore? Now we know why. Fall is here.

Sprout question: What signs of fall are blowing in your direction?

New: Check out my coffee table book PRECIOUS SECONDS – Mayne Island in paintings and photographs

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com

Treetop Views

The sun is out. The end of the year is upon us. We are going high up for a look around.

A grand view always has me reflecting on my blessings. I usually sort of hop-skip up and down and exclaim about how wonderful it is to be alive.

David laughs and we both grin one of those big grins where our teeth show and our eyes snap as if we are keeping a secret. This past year we have tramped the island trails regularly. We have meandered along the roads. We have washed our hands in the Salish Sea. We have sat quiet watching as the light changes on the trees.

This year of 2010 has been a good year.

Happy New Year dear friends! May you notice the blessings you receive.

Sprout question: What are you most treasured memories for 2010?

On Monday shall see Creative Potager begin a new posting schedule with Monday and Friday being the book-ends for the week with the occasional surprise post in the middle. Monday will be used to set my intention for the week and Friday will be a report out on the results. So off into 2011 we go!

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Nothing but blue skies from now…

Sometimes it feels like nothing but blue skies from now on… when the grey clears in the winter and the blue is so intense. Here are a couple of photographs of an arbutus tree against the clear blue in the winter sky. Arbutus trees are difficult to catch on their own. They like company and often lean on other trees for support on their journey to meet the sun.

(view full resolution – available for purchase here.)

(view full resolution – available for purchase here.)

To help set the mood of the moment, let’s have Ella Fitzgerald do it up right with this beautiful rendition of  – Blue Skies…

Please note: Creative Potager will be on holidays beginning Saturday, December 11, 2010 and on its one year anniversary Monday, December 27, 2010.

Sprout question: What is your favourite blue sky experience?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada