Posted by: kerryl29 | August 15, 2013

Coming Soon…

Last week, I received an e-mail from my friend and fellow photographer Tom Robbins, which included a suggestion for a future blog topic:  seeing in the field.  It’s a subject that is simultaneously rich with opportunity and fraught with peril.  The opportunity part of the equation is obvious; once you get past the technical part of the puzzle, seeing is really what photography is all about.  But the potential pitfalls of the subject are equally evident; how do you go about detailing, via the written word, a cognitively sprawling process that is not only endemic, inherently subjective (to at least a significant degree), deeply personal and visual?  It’s a knotty problem.

Red Jack Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Red Jack Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

So, in response to his suggestion, I did what any self-respecting blogger would do when faced with a similar conundrum:  I co-opted Tom and asked him to collaborate with me on what I hope will be a numerically unspecified series of installments on the topic of “seeing in the field,” in real time.  The entire enterprise remains very much a work in progress–and it may never be anything more than that; we’ll have to see.  But hopefully we’ll touch upon such issues as recognizing a worthwhile scene; identifying appealing elements and themes; similarities and differences that arise between the advanced “visualization” of a scene and simply stumbling across something unexpected but worthwhile; fine-tuning composition; and probably a number of other subjects that haven’t even come to mind yet.

Sunflowers, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona

Sunflowers, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona

Hopefully readers will find all of this of some value.  When I was in the process of really getting serious about landscape photography, about 15 years ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about these very topics (or this broader, holistic subject), and read a number of books on the subject of making landscape images.  Virtually all of the sources I consulted engaged in a kind of subtle, nuanced interplay between addressing the matter in a tangible, concrete manner and in a more ethereal, intangible way.  It was as though there was a kind of intellectual minuet that was being danced.

The Heart of the Matter, Zion Plateau, Zion National Park, Utah

The Heart of the Matter, Zion Plateau, Zion National Park, Utah

It remains to be seen how the subject will be treated here, but part of the reason that I wanted to engage Tom in the process was to lessen–if not eliminate–the concern I had that if I dealt with the subject entirely on my own I might end up doing nothing more than giving readers a look at an entirely subjective, non-transferable view.  Doing so would, surely, do more harm than good to anyone attempting to practically apply thoughts and procedures lacking in any ability to be extended.  By including the thinking of another photographer–one whose interests and approach intersect but don’t entirely overlap my own–I thought a baby step toward consensus on something that might resemble the earliest steps on a 1000-mile journey might be vaguely identifiable.

Sunrise, Bear Rocks Preserve, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahla National Forest, West Virginia

Sunrise, Bear Rocks Preserve, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahla National Forest, West Virginia

In any event, this prologue is intended to simply provide fair warning of at least part of what’s in store on this blog in the relatively near future.  We hope you find it useful in both a practical and creatively stimulating sense.

Swift Creek Overlook black & white, Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky

Swift Creek Overlook black & white, Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky



  1. Visually stunning photographs!

    • Thanks very much.

  2. Any tips that you could offer would be very much appreciated! I know that I’ll never have your skills, but I know that I could do better than what I have been doing lately. I’m so out of practice on landscapes that it has been like starting over again.

    • I hope that some part of what we cover will be of at least minimal help to you.

  3. Hi:
    I am looking forward to your future blog with Tom Robbins; however, I am curious as to what Landscape Photography books you found most useful.

    • Hi Gene, thanks for weighing in.

      The two books I referred to most frequently were How to Photograph Landscapes by Joseph K. Lange and The Making of Landscape Photographs by Charlie Waite.

      The Lange book is really a catchall, and covers plenty of technical material as well as aesthetics and composition, but I still found it quite worthwhile when I was just starting out. The Waite book is a bit more esoteric in its approach, but I found it extremely instructive. I do recommend both books for anyone really interested in landscape photography who is in the beginner or intermediate stages of development.

  4. Looking forward to your coming words, and love Sunrise, Bear Rocks Preserve beautiful capture of complimentary colours.

  5. I’m likewise looking forward to your insight into these issues. I find shooting in the area we do is somewhat challenging to find pleasing compositions. We don’t just have many point-and-shoot vistas. So finding the subtle beauty takes a much keener eye (in my opinion). Always nice to see someone else’s thoughts and ideas in practice to enable some self-reflection and comparison of your own styles and routines.

  6. Great idea, Kerry! I look forward to this collaboration – I’m always fascinated by the interplay of craft and creativity, regardless of art form.

    • Thanks, Lynn. Hopefully it will turn out to be worth everyone’s while. 🙂

  7. Look forward to this series. I think it is a good idea to enlist the help of the person who suggests the topic-the ensuing findings work out for the good of all who are interested.

    • Thanks, Jane. Hopefully this will turn out to be helpful.

  8. That initial shot is my favourite, even though it reminds me that Autumn is on the way. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. 🙂

    • Thanks very much!

  9. I especially like the close up of the rocks and the black & white picture

  10. Beautiful images! I’m most fond of the B&W, but I’m most impressed by the first. I’ve tried that sort of image many times, but never have been satisfied with the results… It’s deceptively hard to make compositions like that feel both intimate and complete. You did it well!

  11. […] any entry, posted about two months ago, I provided an introduction to a series of collaborative exchanges planned between myself and my […]

  12. […] introduction to this series of collaborative entries was posted in mid-August; the initial series post, where Tom’s image […]

  13. […] introduction to the series is here and Part I and Part II can be read via the corresponding […]

  14. […] introduction to the series is here and Part I , Part II and Part III can be read via the corresponding […]

  15. […] is my firm and stated belief that photography is principally about seeing.  I think it’s critically important to explore a scene organically–that is, at first, […]

  16. […] actually taken a stab at attempting to suggest some actionable steps for both of these processes in the past; exactly how much positive impact they’ve had is open to debate. This is the case, […]

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