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“Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual”.
Last week I had a conversation with Alain Briot. I was telling him about how much fun I was having photographing these old 1939 Chevy’s in this junkyard I came upon a few weeks ago. He told me that he loves photographing cars and that he considers that his “hobby”. I thought his analysis, as it always is, was spot on. I realized that though my main focus is photographing nature, leading workshops, selling fine art prints and doing a bit of writing, getting lost in a junkyard or really anywhere can be a time to let myself go, experiment and photograph unusual subjects that most folks don’t think of me photographing.
I first experimented with this kind of photography many years ago the first time I drove across California and Arizona on the old Route 66. Photographing through the broken glass windows of the old abandoned gas stations and restaurants was really interesting. Seeing history, left to decay and attempting to capture it on film really interested me. Now, much like Alain, (his term “hobby” is so spot on!) I consider this kind of photography my hobby as well.
After spending time conduction a workshop, or just out in the field shooting a landscape or close up nature, I might stop when come upon an old car, building etc. Try it, you just might enjoy it.
One of the advantages of looking for the unusual is that quite often it’s wherever you may be. Unlike planning for a trip to an exotic location, lots of unusual images can be found in the very area you live or might just be. Working around weather is not always as critical as nature photography and if you learn to control light, you are good to go.
As we know, in photography, the subject really does not matter. I’ve discussed seeing subjects and techniques in some recent articles and podcasts. www.18percentgraymatter.com . The art of photography lies in being able to photograph all subjects creatively. If you, the photographer have the ability to capture a subject in an interesting manner no matter how simple the subject may you’re end results could prove to be quite interesting. Incorporating the element of surprise of in this type of photography is important. You was the viewer to look at and your photograph, react, and think “How creative, I would have never thought of photographing that” When you’re out, stop and look for interesting but unusual subjects, and work them in different ways to portray the usual, in an interesting and perhaps different manner.
Over time, certainly not in the beginning, I developed the ability to (most of the time) recognize unusual subjects. Finding these subjects is at times quite easy. Learning to experiment with different angles, light, texture and patterns is a bit more challenging.
Using different techniques available to us is something I also encourage. Today we have HDR, lots of artistic filters in Photoshop and in programs like Color Efex2 from NIK Software to add interest to already unusual subjects. Sometimes adding some blur, or over done sharpening can bring out things that can create interest in your photograph. Always experiment with Black & White (I rather prefer the tem “Monochrome”.
Experiment with different lenses and angles, Look to add subject matter to tell more of the story. In other words, get creative.
Photography is an art. Presenting real life subjects with a difference should be a goal. Presenting a familiar subject in a unique and unusual way can be fun as an alternative to what you either are known for, or where you spend more of your photographic time.
Lastly, one thing I like to do when photographing the unusual is to play around with the aperture settings. The primary application of aperture is to portray depth of field. You can use the aperture settings creatively for blurring out the background, or just the opposite, portray lots of depth of field. .
So next time you’re out in the field look for the unusual, let yourself go, get creative and add another weapon to your photographic arsenal. Unusual subjects are all around us. Make the most of them, let yourself go!