I have never had a great deal of interest in the grand landscape. I am more strongly attracted to quieter, more intimate details of the natural environment. I can only hope that the quite solitude that interests me is visible in some of my images. (61)
Posts Tagged ‘fine art’
I’m a professional nature photographer. I not only take and sell photographs but also conduct workshops in some beautiful locations around our world. Admittedly I’m relatively new to the business and am not one of the big names of outdoor photography – yet. But I have a loyal following that continues to grow.
Like I said, I lead workshops, both on my own and teamed up with other great photographers. I believe my workshops have a lot to offer photographers of all skill levels from novices and amateurs to professionals. And our attendees confirm that with their comments.
First of all, we get to great locations and we photograph them in the best light. Location and light are the two most critical elements for exceptional outdoor photography.
Second, we provide lots of one-on-one attention. The primary reason most attendees sign up for workshops is they want to become better photographers. So we really focus on working individually with each photographer on the areas in which they want (and need) to grow. I say ‘need’ because often the attendees don’t have a clear idea of what areas to focus on and we can help with that.
Third, my partners and I have our own unique personal styles of photography that we share with our attendees, both overtly and in more subtle ways. If an attendee knows our work, presumably they like it and may want to learn how to do what we do for themselves.
So, with all that by way of introduction, that’s why I attend workshops. I can photograph unfamiliar areas of our earth with someone who is intimate with the location, its best views and light. Second, I may feel pretty comfortable with my technical and creative skills but, let’s face it, there’s always more to learn. Happily, it’s a never ending process. Thirdly, the workshop instructor’s personal style is just that – personal, unique to that individual. Working with them for three to five days is a wonderful way to absorb some of their magic and stretch my own personal style. After all, simply put, our personal styles are our means by which we express yourselves through our art. It is something that is growing all the time. Working with other skilled photographers just helps it grow faster.
To sum it all up, life is too short and there’s too much to learn. I could approach photography on a do-it-yourself basis and grow by trial and error. And while I never stop exploring and discovering new things on my own, it’s slow. Or I can accelerate the learning process and work with other photographers whom I admire. They have a lot to offer and workshops with them gives me the chance to soak up as much as I possibly can in a short, concentrated period of time. And, I get some great photographs.
I had an interesting experience at the Encinitas Street Faire this past year. Very often people will enter my booth, look at my photographs and turn to me and ask, “Are you the photographer?” My answer is always, “Yes I am.”
But on this weekend a woman asked, “Are you the artist.”
I was honored and told her so. So often the relationship between photography and art is a tenuous one in many peoples’ minds. These are the people that ask if the colors are real or if I manipulate my photographs. But an artist by definition would manipulate a photograph. Why? Well, for several reasons.
Art is communication and artists have something to say. A work of art carries the personal stamp of the artist. The artist’s personal style comes through. The stronger the artist’s personal style is, the more clearly it shows in her or his art.
Art is interpretation. We think of art as being a creative process. Landscape art is challenging because it is difficult to visit an iconic location and produce a work that says something new about it. And isn’t that an important aspect of creativity – saying something new about familiar things? But a successful work of art does just that, provides a fresh look as we see something familiar through the artist’s eyes.
I like to explore this aspect of photography in my workshops, providing insight into the artistic process and how it applies to photographers.
Photography can be so many things that sometimes we lose sight of it as a powerful medium for artistic expression. And clearly, not all photography is art. But to the photographer artist, photography is an eloquent medium.
I have an Epson Stylus Pro 4800 printer that I basically love. Having a high quality printer like the Epson really unleashed my creative potential by giving me the ability to fine tune my photographs. Sending proofs off to labs and even waiting only a couple of days to get them back (like some of the better labs do) just wasn’t working out. Realistically, I could only do a couple of proofs. But with my own printer I can run scores of proofs if I need to.
There is one thing about the Epson that’s been bugging me though. I have nozzle clogging problems. It’s from two things – the relatively dry atmosphere here in Southern California and the fact that I don’t print every day. It gets so bad that I would sometimes have to spend an hour repeating the nozzle check and head clean before I could start printing. It wasn’t fun.
But last weekend I heard a tip from two people. Musical instruments, especially the kind made from wood, suffer from the wood drying out in low humidity conditions. And that affects the quality of the sound. So musicians purchase a humidifier device to put in their instrument cases. It maintains the humidity inside the case at an optimum level which keeps their instrument sounding its best.
The suggestion was to purchase one of these and place it inside the 4800. Well, the advice made total sense but I took a different tack. We had a Starbuck’s shot glass sitting around. I took a kitchen sponge and cut it into four strips. Two of these fit perfectly in the shot glass. Moisten the sponges, insert them in the glass, add a little extra water (not too much), set it inside the printer way out of the way where the print head wont hit it, and cross fingers. After one day I ran a nozzle check. Wow, it was almost perfect, good enough to try a print. I printed a proof and it was just great.
Since then I’ve printed more and it’s working perfectly. I check the water level every other day or so and am amazed at how quickly it goes down.
So, while time will tell, it seems the nozzle clogging problem may be solved. And I don’t have go to through the onerous chore of unclogging nozzles before I can print. I’m cranking out proofs and feeling productive and creative again. I’m a happy camper.
I’m here in Southwest Utah for the next several days and just before coming out I picked up the grand new Canon PowerShot G11. (I was on the waiting list at Calumet.) Now I’m actually getting a chance to use it and find out jus what this camera can do.
I didn’t do any research, no product comparison, didn’t even check the published or anticipated specs. When Canon announced it I put my name on the list. The only thing I cared about was that its predecessors had rave reviews from photographer friends of mine (some of them even dedicated Nikon people) and the fact that it shoots RAW. So everything about this camera was new to me and I didn’t know it yet but I was in for some surprises.
There are two filters I want really badly – a variable ND and a warming polarizer.
I want the variable ND to do special water effects with very long exposures. This is a neutral density filter that allows you to vary the density from 2 to 8 stops. Pretty cool. It makes it possible to get very long exposures for those wonderful moving water images. But I also want to try it on clouds, shadows, windy days and what not. I asked several accomplished photographers if they could only buy one filter, which one would it be? To a person they all replied “Variable ND.”
The other filter I want is a warning polarizer. This is a circular polarizer that also acts as a warming filter – two filters in one. Polarizer filters are used to darken skies and cut reflections from water, leaves, wet rocks and the like. Warming filters are used to make the image appear warmer and richer. Put the two together and you have a powerful combination.
I just set up a page for Ralph Nordstrom Photography in Facebook. I invite you to become a fan and join in the adventure. Here’s the link.
I was fortunate enough to have all three photographs accepted for the Orange County Fair this year. And I was very surprised to learn that all three had won awards. To today I finally made it out to the fair and sure enough they all had ribbons.
Death Valley Reflections had an Honorable Mention ribbon.
Bristlecone Moon also had an Honorable Mention ribbon.
And Virgin River and the Watchman had a 2nd Place ribbon.
You can see more of my work at http://RalphNordstromPhotography.com (96)
Tags: Bristlecone Pines, California, Death Valley, Eastern Sierra, fine art, moonrise, National Park, Orange County Fair, panamint mountains, photograph, photography, playa, Southwest, Telescope Peak, Virgin River, Watchman, White Mountains, Zion
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The workshop is ‘in the can.’ We finished up yesterday with a Mono Lake South Tufa sunrise followed by the rest of the morning in Bodie.
There weren’t any clouds but the sunrise was bright red (“Red sky in morning….” but it didn’t pan out). Still, South Tufa is always fascinating. We explored some new places and found some new compositions. We also found a place where an underwater spring was welling up. The tufa building process continues. There were clouds of brine shrimp and alkali flies (in their respective environments). And amazingly, the flies were not a bother. They swarmed on the tufa right at the water’s edge and only flew when you disturbed them by moving too close. Discovering an active site was really very thrilling.
Unfortunately, the water level continues to drop as the drought continues. I’d estimate the water level is down a couple of feet from the time I first started shooting there about two and a half years ago. But the potentially good news is that yesterday the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center issued a forecast that an el nino is building and will last through next winter. We could use five years of el nino in California to replenish our nearly exhausted water reserves.
Bodiewas fascinating as usual. And although we were photographing in late morning light the subjects are still very interesting and the photography, exciting. There’s a temptation to rush around in an attempt to cover it all. But I prefer to slow down and absorb the spirit of the area. Oh, and we ran into David Muench and his workshop.
We were so busy the last days of the workshop that there wasn’t any time to even review our pictures much less get any ready to post. But that will come and soon. So stay tuned for more images.
You can check out my other photos on my website – http://RalphNordstromPhotography.com (67)
This afternoon I was honored to present “The Photographer as Artist” to about 55 members of the Newport Beach arts community. The talk was hosted by the Newport Beach Arts Foundation. The presentation was very well received. Afterwards people made comments like,
“I expected to see a slide show but was pleasantly surprised to hear your analysis of art and photography.”
“You didn’t give the presentation I expected. Instead you showed insight into the nature of art and how photography relates to it.”
“I understand better now how photography is an art.”
“Your talk was inspirational.” (73)