Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Drowned Land Swamp, study #1

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  I took this photograph on Sunday at the Drowned Lands Swamp Conservation Area in Ancram, NY. It reveals no miracles and would win no prizes, but it is a good day's work, the best of the day's shoot, and merit's inclusion, therefore on "Today's" photo. 

As a photographer, I find myself increasingly drawn to photographing situations of high contrast, situations where the contrast pushes the limits of my photographic technology. I suppose part of this urge is technical: Can I set the exposure precisely? Can I manipulate the RAW file so as to draw out everything that has been captured, and achieve the spatial/compositional effect desired? The lure is far more than technical, however. I like high contrast situations because light/dark is a recipe for drama and a structure for design. There is mystery in shadow and revelation in shine, and stories can flicker to life in the contrasting of exterior and interior; there is polyphony in the contrary tug of the thing concealed and the thing revealed.

So I was not disappointed when I followed the trail to the spot labeled, "overlook," and found only this paltry window on the valley and swamp.  Though the view was barely photographic, I was drawn by the reach of the trees, of everything around me to grab as much of the sunshine as possible, and I would make what I could of the bit of poetry provided where the fronds and leaves edged at the light. No, the reach of it all came afterward; first was registering the violence of the diagonal slashes of the tree's trunks, and I set my camera to be sure I could include all three and composed the rectangle broadly. Only then did I consciously note how everything leaned together and how the tones had to be set.