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Monthly Masters DiscussionMonthly Masters' Discussion: Jan. 2018 - Galen Rowell's Split Rock and Cloud

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Charles Haacker
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Re: Monthly Masters' Discussion: Jan. 2018 - Galen Rowell's Split Rock and Cloud

Post by Charles Haacker » Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:10 am

St3v3M wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:19 pm
I like to think Galen was out climbing, saw a pretty cloud, grabbed the nearest camera and snapped away. It was only when he got home he realized he forgot to check his metering and was so thankful the cloud wasn't blown out he printed it and called it a day. Knowing too many People Of The Dirt I know this isn't true though and he took his time, gave it his best and tried to capture the moment as much as he tried to show it to the viewer.

I've talked with a few climbers and they tell me the rocks talk to them, there's a knowing, a bond. Rocks are rocks to me, but a tree, a stream, a flower, a trail, they all have so much to say it's overwhelming at times while at others their silence is joy. I understand Galen better than I should and I understand his photo more than I want to, but rocks are rocks to me, I see hard, I see cold, I see ancient.

I thought of you when I wrote my piece and almost edited it out knowing how well you shoot but thought you might pick up on the metaphor and left it hoping it would spark something. I think we can all learn to shoot, it's not that hard really and is why it's called Point And Shoot, but learning to see is a whole other thing, and I think in a way you either see it or you don't. Seeing isn't all that hard either, but there's some mystical something that keeps most of us from it and I love learning why!

This is an interesting discussion, for as much as I don't like the posted image I am jealous of the experiences he had and the life he made. I'm pretty chill so I think it would have been challenging to work with him, but would I if I could - I'm already packed! S-
There is something mystical about seeing! Oh, and I talk to rocks. Doesn't everyone? I talk to squirrels and my GPS, too (she of the melodious and patient voice named Melody and before Daphne passed she was beginning to wonder what was up). :rofl: The rocks don't usually talk back but Melody does. :|

I think we all see (as opposed to just look) at least some of the time. I think I've managed a few shots where it looks as if I were truly seeing. I saw something not long ago about a musician. Someone asked how she got so good. "Practice," she said.
Yeah, but really ...
Practice.
Oh, c'mon..,
Practice!!

It's probably the most well duh thing ever, but practice really is key. Steve, you've just challenged us to try to do without the rule/suggestion/guideline/indication/outline of thirds. I don't know if I will rise to it because I don't know how! I realize that I use it rather a lot, more than I thought, in various ways. I divide frames into horizontal thirds, vertical thirds, I place the main subject on or at least near the intersection of thirds... I don't think I can make a picture without it. I usually have the grid right up in my finder, although (thanks to PRACTICE) I can manage a composition without the grid, but I really can't manage a composition without consciously laying it out on the grid whether I can physically see it or not. I was on an airplane once and saw a young woman with a longish black leather thing with a suitcase handle. She opened it and laid it across her tray table. It was a short piano keyboard, 28 full size ivory keys, completely soundless. She began practicing etudes, not making a sound beyond a little thumping. I discovered that many of the great artists of the day, Van Cliburn, Horowitz, carried such an "instrument" everywhere. They were practicing fingering. Today they make them in silicon with earphones so the artist can hear the instrument, but they still want their fingering to be totally muscle memory, no thought, just --- there. They can hear the music just fine in their heads. I think it can apply to cameras and photography.

When I was working, shooting pictures all day every day, sometimes 7 days a week if I had weddings, I was making portraits and PR and commercial with every format from 35mm to 4x5" (split 5x7 actually but that's splitting hairs (see what I did there?)), even all the way up to 8x10.* We urge folks to work to make the camera an extension of hand, eye, and mind, but what if you routinely use many cameras? I'm here to tell you that they all became extensions of my hand, eye, and mind by using them every day. Shifting from one to another was all muscle memory. So was/is composition in the camera. We were taught to frame tight, "fill the frame!" Avoid cropping. For me sometimes that becomes a liability, framing so tightly that I can't crop if I want to. That's a habit I'm trying to break. But PRACTICE! Practicepracticepracticepracticepracticepracticepractice.

The lesson (I think) is the same one that photo instructors (specifically but it applies to many things) have been pounding into newbies for pretty much ever: SHOOT! In film days it was pretty $pendy but nowadays there seems no reason not to shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. Yes, sometimes the "blind squirrel" thing happens, but if someone is serious and studies what they've shot, shares it with others (Mentoris anyone?), begins to develop a muscle memory for the camera, takes a camera everywhere, we're apt to get better than average. Nobody expects to be Galen Rowell or any other master, but ya never know. (Now all I gotta do is take my own advice.) :lol:

*(If you look at that picture, it has notes. If you mouse over there are captions describing what you are seeing.)
Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

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Post by St3v3M » Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:29 am

Charles Haacker wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:10 am
...
The lesson (I think) is the same one that photo instructors (specifically but it applies to many things) have been pounding into newbies for pretty much ever: SHOOT! In film days it was pretty $pendy but nowadays there seems no reason not to shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. Yes, sometimes the "blind squirrel" thing happens, but if someone is serious and studies what they've shot, shares it with others (Mentoris anyone?), begins to develop a muscle memory for the camera, takes a camera everywhere, we're apt to get better than average. Nobody expects to be Galen Rowell or any other master, but ya never know. (Now all I gotta do is take my own advice.) :lol:

*(If you look at that picture, it has notes. If you mouse over there are captions describing what you are seeing.)
You have become masterful at making us think and I appreciate it!

I think we fall into ruts, some are noticeable like the one where you don't feel artistic or the one where you don't feel like you can, but there are others even more dangerous to the artic soul sometimes known as the daily grind. I think most people have art within them, they are born that way and express it as they grow, but somewhere along the way they put it away as a childish thing, hide from it, ignore it, I think it's the same with 'seeing.' Everyone can see, but only those that want to do.

I'm finding it hard to shoot without using the Rule Of Thirds, it's amazing how ingrained it is. I have some ideas, but the one thing I've gained from the Challenge is to rethink everything. I'm not doing so well, and feel like I'm drawing with crayons, but it's making me think, it's making me re-evaluate, it's making me see.

We see, and we tell the story, so simple and I'm relearning how!

Thank you for always pushing me and sharing your gifts with us! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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minniev
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Post by minniev » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:06 pm

St3v3M wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:38 am

Anyone with a camera can take an image and some may even know how to process it but I think it takes someone with a love for the subject matter to truly tell the story. Put me in a studio with enough instruction and I'm sure I can take a decent portrait, but will I find their soul? It's different for me in nature though, it's my church and I feel connected, everything speaks to me so how can I not find the beauty waiting to be seen? It's not about the subject it about the storyteller. Everyone has their gifts, some take, some make, but only the gifted know how to tell the story.

I've seen this, done that, and passed. I live for nature but Split Rock And Cloud is not my thing. It reminds me of a sea creature vaulting up to eat a jelly or the used cotton of a band-aid I've pulled off a wound. Did I say I didn't like it? I understand the colors and the framing but I wouldn't want it on my wall, I'd grow tired of it and draw other sea creatures to keep it company. The dark space doesn't bother me so much, but I think it would be so much better in color. It's not the simplicity either, I love good minimalistic work, this one just doesn't do it for me.

I have work from a similar area but not like this as it's not something I would have spent my time on. It's not there for me, there's no story. Maybe that's bad, but my landscapes are about depth and color and emotion. This is something a rock climber would love but to me, it feels like death.

The best take away from this is "The Power of an Image Comes from Emotion." S-
Thank you for this interesting take on Split Rock, which has a different meaning coming from someone who has spent significant time in the area where Rowell photographed this and so many others. Indeed, if we fail to find story or emotion in an image, that image has failed for us, though not necessarily for the next viewer. Your interchange with Chuck below is so fascinating. That some images cause us to catch our breath and keep staring while others cause us to turn away in boredom or distaste is part of the power of art. If we were all moved by the same, how dull would that be?

When applying this to my own work, I've become less defensive about my own art. My dam birds are my "babies", my best stuff, but I accept that they're not for everyone. Some people have told me they are original, engaging, beautiful, hypnotic, etc etc. Some others have told me they just don't get it - distant birds and a rotting concrete dam, about as exciting as watching paint dry. Their disinterest is perhaps neither my fault nor theirs, but lies in the way we're put together.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by minniev » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:10 pm

St3v3M wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:02 am
minniev wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:52 pm
...
And I'm glad you liked my version of Buttermilk Road! It was one of the loveliest sunrise spots I've ever been privileged to shoot in, and it very popular, tripods abounding, but it's so wide open that you could wander about and find your own area away from the others so it wasn't as bothersome as some popular spots I've found myself in.
That was your Humphreys? Well that puts a whole new spin on it. Mad Respect! S-
Yep, that's my photo, in one of the best sunrise locations I've been in. I would so love to go back to the Sierras in fall, it is an amazing location for photography or just for exploring. I'm sure there's so much I missed. A guide would be a great asset!!
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by St3v3M » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:17 am

minniev wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:06 pm
Thank you for this interesting take on Split Rock, which has a different meaning coming from someone who has spent significant time in the area where Rowell photographed this and so many others. Indeed, if we fail to find story or emotion in an image, that image has failed for us, though not necessarily for the next viewer. Your interchange with Chuck below is so fascinating. That some images cause us to catch our breath and keep staring while others cause us to turn away in boredom or distaste is part of the power of art. If we were all moved by the same, how dull would that be?

When applying this to my own work, I've become less defensive about my own art. My dam birds are my "babies", my best stuff, but I accept that they're not for everyone. Some people have told me they are original, engaging, beautiful, hypnotic, etc etc. Some others have told me they just don't get it - distant birds and a rotting concrete dam, about as exciting as watching paint dry. Their disinterest is perhaps neither my fault nor theirs, but lies in the way we're put together.
We all have our own likes and dislikes, and isn't it interesting too how one day you like something and the next you don't like your mood influences you too. Our views are a funny thing but they make us who we are, and thank goodness for that!

Listen to other people, learn from other people, but never let them bully you. I'm sure they're just jealous anyway! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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Post by St3v3M » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:17 am

minniev wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:10 pm
Yep, that's my photo, in one of the best sunrise locations I've been in. I would so love to go back to the Sierras in fall, it is an amazing location for photography or just for exploring. I'm sure there's so much I missed. A guide would be a great asset!!
You show I'll guide! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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