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Searching For An Original Image?

Don't avoid the tourist traps - Avoid the traps tourists fall into!

Aira Force Lakedistrict National ParkAira Beck, Lakedistrict National ParkAira beck waterfall lakedistrict national park

Photography has become so popular that finding an original scene is near impossible for the majority of us. This use to bother me and was a barrier to producing some really great images. These fears stifle possibilities by keeping the camera hidden away inside the bag. I have on many occasions visited a scene to find at least one if not more photographers already there queued up to take the standard tourist picture. For give me this is not a criticism of these people, in fact the opposite because they have taken the image, that's far better than walking away in pursuit of the elusive original image. The thing is it's not the scene that's the problem it's our approach to it. In this first of a series of blog posts I want to explore different ways of dealing with these issues.

View the location through new eyes, really look and absorb, like you have never see it before! We are bombarded by what we see in the media, and have very preconceived ideas about. what to expect on location, we arrive preconditioned by the images of other photographers who have gone before us; our minds are closed to new possibilities. But the truth is that you have never been their before; and your experience of a location is yours, it belongs to you and that should drive and influence what ever images you produce. Don't just look, experience; use all of your senses, hear the wind, and babbling brook, feel the warmth or cold, then try and capture these elements in your images. Use technical repertoire to capture movement in the trees and water, cool the image to express the cold.

 How many times have you seen a photographer walk up to a scene take out his or her camera take a picture then put the camera away? At least in the days of film you could argue that wasting film is expensive, but now how much do you pay each time you use another MB on your memory card? Your first image is often what I call a ranging shot it's sets you up to improve on the composition, and develop ideas for better images that are about to follow. How do you capture the  sound of trickling water, the rustle of trees swaying in the breeze, and the drama of a waterfall all in one image? Often the answer is you can't. And if you did, wouldn't your message be lost?

 When I reach a location I often stop, sit down, soak up the atmosphere, have a coffee from the flask, and then take a few ranging shots. I explore the area and decide what it is I want to say about the landscape, what I saw, heard, felt, inspired and excited me. I often take the tourist shot, but in my style using techniques that help me describe my interaction with the landscape. Then I will explore to find other compositions close by that add more information about the area, and sometimes close in on the details. The three images included in this post show Aira Force in the Lakedistrict National Park. The tourist scene of the falls is included. The other two compositions show the scene further upstream away from the falls, and a small detail close up of the waterfall in the second image. I often explore these ideas during my workshops and it is always interesting to see how different people are inspired to produce very different photographs using this approach. Next time your stuck for inspiration, visit a tourist spot, and see what you can do.

 More examples of images like these can be seen in my Landscape Photography gallery.