Friday, February 22, 2008

Going Inside

Sometimes, a nature photographer just has to go inside.

To get the picture you want, you have to bring your subject into controlled conditions, so that you can arrange the composition of the shot, set the lighting, experiment with angles, and avoid those pesky transients--breezes that disturb your setup, clouds that cast unwanted shadows, even insects that might alight in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It seems odd, doesn't it, to bring "nature" inside? "Nature" is wide-open mountain vistas, with eagles soaring high overhead and elk thundering over the ridges. It's streams chuckling through the forest to accompany the sweet singing of the songbirds. It's the crashing of the waves against the rocky shore, the calling of seagulls, the skittering of sanderlings through the foam. Such a pretty picture....
But "nature" is also the osprey striking a fish out of the water, the wolf swallowing a whole squirrel, the lion ripping a chunk of bloody flesh out of the antelope she has just choked to death. "Nature" is even the mosquito drinking blood from my tender veins. This is the part of "nature" we don't like to think about too much--but it is just as real as the lovely scenery and the cuddly animals.
So it's actually not so "odd" to bring natural subjects indoors to photograph them. It really is a matter of perspective. And as long as one does not try to pass off "studio" photos as ones taken in the field--that is, as long as when you use the photos you make it clear somehow where you shot them--then you can set the stage for some really fine photographic opportunities. You can concentrate on capturing the detailed parts of a flower blossom, for example, or you can focus on the interplay of light and color to create a strikingly beautiful image, even an abstract.

To nourish my spirit, sometimes I have to put myself in some really "odd" places too--where, perhaps, it might at first seem that the spirit is completely "out of place." It's hard to imagine, and I would never have expected it, but I've had some very "spiritual" moments on a track field, in a movie theater, at my office desk--even, on rare occasions, in church! Well, I jest a little, but the point is, the Spirit is at home everywhere, and no matter where I am, the Spirit is with me.

So, although I made the four flower photos in this post inside, under controlled conditions, I really feel that "nature" was with me in my studio. The Spirit was also there, perhaps nudging me to pay attention with all my senses, even my spiritual ones, so that I could portray something of the true spirit of nature in my photos.

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