Landscape Master Class Series – Part Two

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” ― Ansel Adams

Creative Disassociation

Adams spoke an absolute truth with this comment. It is amazing how many people take landscape pictures, (as opposed to creating them) and when they view them later on their monitor, wonder where the emotional range went that they felt at the time they squeezed the shutter. I call this Creative Disassociation and we will correct for this eye/brain phenomena during the Capitol Reef Landscape Master Class (and other master classes too). For now, I’ll provide a short discussion of the cause and effect.

The Cause

Highway 24 in Capitol Reef National Park
“Highway 24” by Bob Killen, Capitol Reef National Park, Adobe Certified Instructor

Professionals and amateurs alike experience Creative Disassociation or CD. When we do, it is because what we see in our mind’s eye is often quite different then what is actually in front of the camera. We feel the scene but we fail to execute the work needed to capture and interpret that feeling or emotional range. The image outcome is disassociated from the emotion we thought we had captured and thus we are left to wonder what happened to that ‘wow’ feeling that demanded we press the shutter button in the first place. As Adams pointed out in his quote, it is a moment of supreme disappointment.

We are left to wonder what happened to that ‘wow’ feeling that demanded we press the shutter button in the first place.

CD is not an exclusive issue for landscape photographers; it affects all photographic genres and the other visual arts as well. However, there is a cure for creative disassociation.

The Cure

Work the scene/subject and vary the camera controls. That’s it; capture more images; work more points of view, work the light from different times of day, vary camera settings and continually review and compare your work on the camera display. Ask yourself, what is working; what is not; and why? What are you saying in your head; what do you want to say— and what are the images saying. The difference between these two points is creative disassociation and the creative solution is to keep shooting images until what you feel and what the camera is capturing are close if not identical.

Ask yourself, what is working; what is not; and why?

Previsualize and talk to yourself

Temple of the Sun by moonlight in Capitol Reef National Park
“Temple of the Sun by Moonlight” by Bob Killen, Capitol Reef National Park, Adobe Certified Instructor

When I’m shooting I previsualize the final image and imagine the post-production steps I will take once I get back to a computer. In the field, I talk to myself, often aloud: “OK how are the shadows doing…. let’s bracket… oh this is great… just the highlights only and let the rest go dark… this needs different light… let’s reshoot with lower light… move, move, the composition is not working, what am I missing, where is this color going” and so on.  If you were to review my camera roll from a shoot, you might see images that seem incredibly overexposed, underexposed, blurred and so on. I am fully exploring creative approaches and previsualizing post-production. Thus, the need for images that are far from technically perfect with the potential to be creatively perfect.

Talking to myself and thinking ahead helps me focus, to do the work needed to convey the emotional range I want to create. I’m working on purpose with a purpose to yield a purpose filled photograph. I’m concentrating on success, not disappointment, and yet I do experience disappointment, which humbles my ego and reminds me that there are only three things you can do to create a successful landscape image.

We’ll discuss these 3 in the next blog.

Original Post:

You may also like...

(1) Comment

  1. Landscape Master Class Series – Part One | National Park Photography Expeditions

    […] How do we do this and more? We’ll discuss that in the next blog: Landscape Photography Master Class – Part Two […]

Comments are closed.

scales of justice
  1. Due to limited class size, we request that you cancel at least 30 days before a scheduled class. This gives us the opportunity to fill the class. You may cancel by phone or by email. If you have to cancel your class, we offer you a credit to your account. You may use these credits towards any future class. However, if you do not cancel prior to 72 hours prior to the class, you will be subject to a loss of deposited payment for the class. NPPE has the only right to be flexible with this policy and will make determinations on a case by case basis.
  2. Cancellations made 30 days or more in advance of the class date, will receive a 100% credit. Cancellations made within the 30 day period will incur a 20% fee with the balance applied as a credit to the account. Cancellations made within 72 hours to the class will be subject to a 100% loss of registration fees paid.