Lush Farmland, Iceland

creek running through lush farmland in regional IcelandCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 IS L series lens

I made this photo just off to the side of an entrance to an old church and historic buildings in rural Iceland. The site seemed to be managed and surrounded by a working farm. I knew this wasn't the 'perfect' image but, with a few basic techniques I'd be able to produce a fairly compelling result. I can outline these techniques as follows:

  • using the arms of the creek to draw the viewer into and through the frame
  • converting the image to black and white so as to allow the textural elements within the scene to be emphasized
  • the application of warm tones (subtle color) added back into the image to better express the sense of mood I experienced when viewing the original scene
Most importantly the above image was made at the beginning of my visit to the farm and, as such, was a contributing element in the process towards making a definitive image at the location. I also photographed the church and its small graveyard, the adjoining historical farm buildings and the beginning of the small creek in question. All of these images helped get my eye in and helped me see what was not just the best image of the location or the day but, quite possibly, the best from several weeks traveling around and through Iceland.

The lesson I want to impart is, to my mind, essential in understanding the process by which we make better photographs. While it's a good thing to be selective in what you photograph, after all editing does begin in the camera, don't forget you're using a digital camera and it costs nothing to make the picture. Use that to your advantage: move, take a physical approach to your photography, get your eye in and, while you're re-familiarizing yourself with your camera, engage the right (creative) side of your brain.

Please don't let your own search for the elusive perfect image prevent you from making the best image you can. To take that attitude is to deny the very craft of photography. Take a risk, explore and experiment, burn some calories and have some fun.

By all means keep your standards high, but don't let your own view of perfection prevent you from acutally making picutures. And remember that the process of art is as much about the practice of making as it is about an outcome, fair or foul.

I'm told that National Parks in the USA have, or at least had, Kodak picture points where sign posts would literally guide the visitor to locations offering outstanding views. So with great subject matter in front of you and a good place to stand or set up your tripod it couldn't be easier to make a picture. Which, in the days of film based photography, was precisely the point. Earn revenue, every time the shutter is released, and build brand awareness and loyalty by guiding the consumer to a good result with little effort.
But where does that leave you? With luck the goddess of photography will turn on the ideal lighting switch and, chances are, you'll make an amazing photo. That is you and anyone else there with a camera. So, other than lens focal length, what's the difference between your photo and you as a photographer compared to the bus load of snap happy tourists that just hoped off the bus?

Your camera! Oh, do me a favor.
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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru