Landscapes in Motion

(Click on any image to enlarge)

I take my photographic inspiration from many sources; the world around me, other art forms, and certainly the works of other photographers, past and present.  One such photographer is William Neill, who has a regular column in Outdoor Photographer.   He recently showed some of his more impressionistic images in OP and they truly captured my imagination.  The images I present in this post were captured using the technique he described that involves adding camera motion to a landscape scene.

Essentially the technique involves using your camera hand-held, and moving it up and down vertically if your shooting a vertical subject like the trees I shot here.  I used a somewhat long exposure (up to 2 seconds) and then tilted the camera up and down, or just up if using a faster shutter speed.  That’s the basic technique, but it takes considerable practice to get anything even approaching a “keeper”.

I have to say that was quite liberating to take this highly engineered piece of camera equipment designed to give the sharpest and most detailed images and basically flip the thing up and down hoping to capture something worthwhile.   Now it’s not quite that easy, but you get the idea.  Even though the images are an abstraction, the basic “rules” of composition still apply.  In this case, the spacing of the trees and the color distribution and balance still come into play in determining keepers from the delete bin.

The first two images are taken from a stand of white alders along the Gualala River.  Their light trunks and vertical lines, and the occasional cross branches are still visible in the images.  To me, there is a certain Monet-like quality to the images produced by this technique.  They also remind me more of a water color than a photograph.

The second group of images were taken deep in the redwood forest along the ridge here in Sea Ranch.  The large, dark trunks are clearly visible as is some of the foliage (mostly ferns) at the base of some of the trees.  How you move the camera and where you stop its motion determines what level of detail is preserved in an image.  I’m partly in control of some of what you see, but a lot of it is also random chance based on available light and the motion of the camera.  I like the randomness of some of this, and the fact that these images can never be duplicated again in the wild.

So I hope you enjoy my deviation from traditional photography.  I wanted to explore a more abstract and impressionistic take on the word around me.  I don’t paint, but for me this was the next best thing.


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70 mm f2.8 lens.

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