I was never formally trained as a photographer, or artist for that matter. I was moved to begin taking pictures through outdoor experience. Although I was an outdoor athlete, I was drawn to fine art landscape photography. I never thought too deeply about it. I wanted to capture the beauty I experienced and I wanted to produce beautiful prints for people to hang on their walls and enjoy. It was that simple.
Almost two decades later I realize that I still haven't dug too deeply into the conscious aspect of being an artist. It is what I do. Perhaps it is what I was meant to do. However, I do have moments of clarity where I realize I am being compelled to do something. The image above, which I have titled "Loch Fallen Leaf", is a wonderful example of this almost involuntary drive to produce a particular image.
You see, I didn't have this exact image in mind. I really didn't have a specific vision. I simply felt the need to continuously visit this area numerous times per day for several weeks. I was pulled there. I felt there was something special and different I needed to compose. I just didn't know what. In hindsight, I must have had faith that something was going to present itself. When it did, I felt it! I knew it, I acted upon it, I composed the image in the format that worked for me and I had it. I was rewarded for my patience even though I had no idea what I was waiting for. Sometimes the magic happens. I just keep coming back for more.
So, where does the name, Loch Fallen Leaf, come from? In a past life I was an endurance athlete. I did long triathlons. As part of my training I would do long runs. The run around Fallen Leaf Lake (around 9 miles) was one of my favorites. The far side of the lake (pictured) is basically a goat trail. Rocky, overgrown, quiet. Many mornings I would zen out and run solo along this amazing stretch of rock. Surrounded by mountains and a glassy lake, I would hear the sound of bagpipes reverberating from a canyon above. I never met the bagpipe player, but I imagine, as he stood in that rocky canyon and looked out over the calm waters, he felt the same sense of freedom I did. He transformed my runs into truly inspired odysseys. I imagined I was running in the highlands of Scotland. This image brought that feeling back, and enabled me to express what I felt, all those years ago in this amazing place, through my photography. The image happened!
Camera: Canham 5x7 Metal Field Camera with 6x17cm roll film panoramic back
Lens: Rodenstock 90mm
Film: Provia 100F Transparency film (6x17cm frame)
I chose a panoramic format for this image for a couple of reasons.
1) I wanted to accentuate the length and pattern of the shoreline. The mirror reflection created a balance and accentuated the details that were there.
2) If I had used a traditional horizontal or vertical shape for the composition there would have been too much empty space (cloud) for my liking.
I find it is very important to slow down and make these sorts of aesthetic decisions in the field while composing the image. All too often people will bang away so as not to miss anything or lose the opportunity. More often than not, when you shoot with this urgency expecting that you can figure it out later when you are in front of a camera, you end up with nothing, or something that is "good". As an outdoor photographer, the outdoors is where I create my art, as that is where I feel it. Immersing ourselves into a scene and consciously composing one image that moves us is far superior to machine gunning with our digital camera and hoping we got it. One great shot far surpasses 1,000 nice ones.