Behind every picture there is an untold story. The artist – painter or photographer – has created that picture, either from observation, imagination or a combination of both. We are usually invited to hazard a guess at how, why, when and where. Wouldn’t it be nice to know?
It is common to hear a photographer say I took these photos. I seldom hear a photographer say I created this picture. I used to believe it was vital never to be without a cocked camera so as not to miss, possibly the most amazing photo ever shot. I know better now but I still remind myself regularly that
‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’.
The painter starts with a blank canvas and adds what he sees or visualises in the way it appears to him. The landscape photographer is presented with a scene which he must manoeuvre to create the picture he sees in his mind’s eye. Seldom does this happen in a nano-second and often it can take considerably longer than even the photographer imagines.
I find that it now takes me much longer to create a picture that I am satisfied with than it did when I was a complete novice. When I look at my older creations I can understand why.
Both the painter and the photographer have a set of tools which they must know how to use to produce the picture. As a landscape photographer, you have a dazzling array of modern technology at your disposal and you are only limited by your pocket and determination to master it. But however much of a techno wizard you are it will not compensate for a lack of artistry, visual literacy, vision or imagination. We never know exactly how a picture will turn out but without creative visualisation, you can bet it won’t be so hot.
A gallery of attractive or interesting photographs may be pleasing to many viewers and they may be curious enough to hazard a guess at the creative process and how they were produced. But only the photographer, if he remembers, will know.
After viewing thousands of wonderful pictures on 500px, and shuddering at the realisation that I am still a novice, it surprises me at how few write anything in the description box – including me. Then I find an exceptional picture which I really love but have no idea what the story behind it is.
Since then I decided that the pictures I create that I enjoy most will have at least a few words as an accompaniment so that I won’t forget how I made them and maybe others will enjoy the viewing experience a little more as I try to make more challenging pictures.
I remember this morning well. I walked along the dirt road up from the village to the reservoir through the Lam Yai farms and forest. There was hardly a soul apart from the odd farmer, a couple of noisy dogs and me. Then I looked through the trees and saw this.
I love walking the farms, canal banks and villages in the early cool mornings of Northern Thailand between November and February. Nearly every day I find I can make a new picture of the same view. I am so lucky the countryside is like an art gallery. I processed this scene to look like an old 19th-century oil painting. I hope you like it.
Early morning walks in the forests of Northern Thailand are a photographer’s dream. The early light catches the feather grass as it plays in the rising sun.