Tag Archives: Weld County

An Open Question

Three Bins, Old Snow Weld County, Colorado, 2016

Three Bins, Old Snow
Weld County, Colorado, 2016

I have a theory that if you have an artistic vision and you follow it honestly, then your work will always look like yours and not that of someone else.  I think this is true because one’s vision directly follows from who one is, and we are all unique individuals with our own unique ways of seeing the world.  For this reason, it doesn’t matter what we photograph because, assuming we stay true to our visions, our photographs can’t help but look like they’re ours, no matter what the subject is.

Well, I think I’m really putting that to the test with this image.  Grain bins are a very popular subject among photographers, and have been photographed in countless manners and iterations.  Is there really something in this image that is uniquely mine?  Does it really have some attribute or characteristic that reveals the evidence of my own hand?

Perhaps you’re expecting an answer from me to my own question.  It’s true that I often set up questions and answers, but here I really don’t have one.  I do like the image, though, so it just will have to remain an open question.

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The Art of Photography

Wiry Tree, Wire Fence. Weld County, Colorado, 2014.

Wiry Tree, Wire Fence
Weld County, Colorado, 2014

Few art forms get conflated with their tools as much as photography does.  No one claims to be a painter simply because they own paint brushes, or to be a writer simply because they own a word processor.  However, the popular perception of photography seems to be, to paraphrase a remark I once heard, that if you own a camera you’re a photographer, whereas if you own, for example, a violin, well you just own a violin.

There is an art to photography, but it’s not in the operation of a camera.  Learning how to work a camera – and all of the other tools of photography such as computer software or wet darkroom processes – is relatively straightforward.  With a relatively minimal amount of time and effort, just about anyone can become competent at these skills.

Rather, the art of photography lies in recognizing and capturing visually compelling images in a chaotic and unruly world.  Truly, it’s not easy to consistently make good photographs out of the visual clutter that constitutes the everyday world.

This, then, creates the paradox of photography as an art form.

On the one hand, it’s probably among the easiest of the arts in that there is a modest technical barrier to conquer.  Where it may take years to master, say, a musical instrument before one can make art with it, the skills required to master the use of a camera are so minimal as to be virtually no barrier at all.

But on the other hand, this makes photography one of the most difficult of art forms at which to excel.  Because the technical component is so minimal, the artistic value lies almost entirely in the vision of the artist.  One who photographs cannot hide behind technical achievement, such as the attaining of technical competence on a musical instrument that’s difficult to play.  Rather, the quality of a photograph stands or falls based almost entirely simply on how well the photographer visualized and expressed the image.  If you enjoy a photographer’s work, essentially what you are enjoying is a fairly pure expression of how that photographer uniquely sees the world, and what could be more quintessentially called “art” than that?

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Three Things to Know About Shooting in the Snow

Evening Light Snowstorm

Last week, in my previous post, I mentioned that spring is just around the corner.  I’m now ready to officially retract that statement.  After several days of more or less continuous snow following that post, which had finally mostly melted away as of yesterday, it’s snowing again here in northern Colorado.  My current estimate is that summer will arrive in about the middle of June.

Fortunately, it’s been remarked that bad weather equals good photography, and snow definitely qualifies.  I’ve been making a mini-project of practicing my winter weather photography skills.  Here are three things I’ve learned over the course of the last week about shooting in the snow:

  1. Wear warm gloves.
  2. Wear warm gloves.
  3. Good gosh almighty, wear warm gloves.

Selecting a good pair of gloves for photography has been surprisingly difficult.  If they’re light enough to work the camera, they’re generally too cold.  If they’re thick enough to stay warm, they’re too clumsy to handle the camera.  The one pair I own that seem both warm enough and light enough is made of fibers that seem to come off on the camera and lens when I handle them.  If anyone knows of gloves that stay warm, are easy to work with, and won’t shed any material, I would love to hear it.

In the meantime, here is “Evening Light Snowstorm,” taken by the side of Highway 257 in Weld County, Colorado, as the snow was falling and the light was fading at the end of the day.

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