Thursday, March 5, 2015

Hope Valley, California in February

February 28, 2015

Sorensen's Resort, Hope Valley, CA

Near the middle of January, it became apparent to me that I was no longer willing to work for my previous employer. There is an every widening gap between my business ethics and philosophy and that of the people who wrote my check. That gap created a conflict of interest leading to stress gnaweing away at my emotional and physical health. In frustration, I threw out a couple of resumes, having no idea how long it would take to get a new job. 

Luckily, for me, there was a fish looking for just what I was casting, and I had an offer in just a few days. I needed to give notice to my boss that I was leaving, and when I was up in the mountains (just breathing), I stopped at Sorensen's to see what was for lunch. I picked up a flyer for a photography workshop that only cost $75 and was run by Terry Nathan, a photography educator at UC Davis. It was on Saturday, the 28th of February, a day I was scheduled to work.

Well, that steeled my resolve. I had to give my notice the next day, as it was the 12th.  If I gave a 14 day notice on the 13th, my last day would be the 27th. With Saturday cleared I could attend my first artistic workshop. 

It was a perfect Winter day in the Sierras. Little or no wind, passing snow showers, heavy clouds, and high 20's for temp. Terry was an excellent teacher, I suppose because he is a teacher. For seventy five bucks, I got a great morning of instruction and came away with a better understanding of how to compose, or design, a photograph. One thing that really sticks out to me was a comparison he made of photography to painting. A painter starts with a blank canvas, and only adds what it is necessary to tell the story. A photographer starts with a canvas filled with extraneous elements that need to be eliminated so that the story can be revealed. 

We started out in a meadow strewn with boulders. The first inclination I often have is to throw that wide angle zoom to its widest setting, but in a location like this, trying to get it all in will just add to the number of distracting elements. Terry helped my think about framing, selection, and focal length as ways to subtract from the image. 

Perhaps my strongest image from the day. We were assigned to find compositions that had framing, good light, and/or foreground to background depth. This one has all three.

I'm pretty pleased with this one as well. I like the scale that Granite (a workshop participant) gives to the rock field.

After a while, we started to wander further afield. My eye, and then the rest of me, gravitated to an area of the meadow that was fairly empty except for the Carson River and some willows. The snow helped isolate the great shapes and gave depth to the landscape.

This is a very simple image of the river. It's meant to instill a feeling of peace and harmony. The golden mean is the secret to creating art that imparts these emotions.

Terry then brought us to an area that just has a few sections of old fence and barbed wire to work specifically on framing and details. I struggle with these concepts and even as I was making some of these images I thought to myself "this is all just too obvious and cliche". Yet, when I see the images I feel that these are some of the best "detail" images I've created and hopefully will get me on the right track.
Framing. Light. Depth.

I struggled with this image forever. It makes me think - "almost".

Another image I really like. I think it tells a story.

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