On Photography: Back to the Basics

mcclure passI’ve only taken two photography classes in my entire life. It isn’t that I don’t value a formal education; it’s just that I learn more quickly on my own. However, I still think back to some of the lessons I learned the first week of Photo 101 at the Brooks Institute. The class was based in black and white film and one of our early assignments was to photograph scenes dominated by shapes, lines, or texture. I think the purpose was to get our minds off of the idea of finding a subject, and get us to focus on good composition. That was years ago, but even today, I look for great light, composition, color, and subject in that order. There is no point in looking for a good subject if you don’t have the light and composition.

Last fall, I made a trip out to Marble with fellow local photographers, Todd Powell and Gary Soles whom, by the way, both have excellent galleries in Summit County. We spent the morning photographing landscapes around McClure Pass, and after the sun moved to high in the sky to get great light, we ended up heading back to camp. Camp just happened to be right next to this scene in the accompanying image. I didn’t notice it in the dark when we arrived at camp, or in the rush to head out in the morning. Although the sun was high for photographing big landscapes; here in the shade of the aspens, it was just right.

I had played with a variety of different compositions, and at one point even had Todd ride his mountain bike through the leaves while I photographed him from the roof of my car. I think the image shown here was my favorite. I realized afterwards that I had subconsciously applied the techniques of my first photography class when making this image. The image is more about the soft light, the curved line of the road, the texture of the leaves, and the parallel vertical lines of the aspen trunks than it is about any clearly defined subject.

Next time when you are out with your camera, perhaps instead of looking for some “thing” to photograph, you will look for the quality of light and strong compositions containing shapes, lines, textures…

For a more photography how-to tips, visit www.timothyfaust.com. Timothy Faust is an award winning photojournalist and fine art photographer living in Breckenridge Colorado. His work can be seen at Altitude Gallery at 107 North Main Street in Breckenridge. questions@timothyfaust.com.

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