You know what I love about shooting back east? The lack of Icons! To be fair, we have a few iconic location across the Eastern U.S., but this pales in comparision to the almost endless iconic views of the West. I'm going to quickly see how many locations I can rattle off in 60 seconds....start the clock....Otter Cliffs, Bear Rocks, Grandview Point on the New River, the Boneyard at Botany Bay, Heart Lake from Mount Jo, the Babcock Grist Mill, Clingman"s Dome, Cades Cove, & Cadillac Mountain. The fact of the matter is this, if you shoot back east, you are forced to explore original compositions!
There are many photographers today, most live and shoot west of the Mississippi River, who rely on the formula alone, shoot an icon and hope for interesting weather or light. Don't get me wrong, I also shoot icons but my favorite style of photography is to visit a location off the grid, to the photographic community anyway, and find a deeper frame....look beyond the obvious for those images that sit just below the surface, or in some cases in plain view. Below are a few of my favorite non-iconic and intimate images from this past fall captured while shooting in West Virginia, Vermont and Acadia National Park.
On the first morning of my trip to Acadia I was treated with clear skies and high winds, not the best conditions for landscape photography. Knowing that any grand scenics were essentially out of the question, i focused my attention on capturing warm reflection amongst the wind blown grasses in the tarn.
I like to study maps and look for interesting locations whether a stream, rocky summit or wetland. Once I have identified a few locations, it's great fun to just go and explore, look around, get lost in the woods and see what I can find. After looking at maps of Acadia National Park, I found what looked like a promising stream, Duck Brook. The name alone was pretty cool so we decided to give it a try. The stream for the most part is not that attractive, but a large plunge pool that had collected hundreds of fallen leaves provided a great creative muse for a few hours of long exposure abstract photography under soft-overcast light.
I'm always on the lookout! While driving down from a morning shoot at Dolly Sods, one of those iconic eastern locations, a barn that I have driven past at least a hundred times caught my attention and I decided to make an pitstop with my photo group to spend some time shooting the barn under a beautiful early morning sky of puffy white clouds that were moving fast across the sky. I ran a 45 second exposure to capture the clouds streaking across the frame with the barn and hillsides of autumn color bathed in rich directional side light.
While scouting for this years Acadia National Park Workshop, Kurt Budliger and I spent a bit of time exploring the banks of Bubble Pond...arguably an iconic location in Acadia. With mostly overcast skies, I decided to focus my creative vision on finding a few simple and intimate compositions along the shore of the pond. I started with the usual suspects: Autumn reflections, rocks, fallen leaves. ect. But settled on this very graphic image of a few reeds and reflections.
My favorite photographic pastime is getting lost in the woods. For me there is no greater feeling of satisfaction that wandering through a forest and coming up with a well thought out and beautiful composition. It is almost without a doubt the most difficult setting to shoot. Chaos abounds and one must look for texture, abstract shape and design in order to capture a beautiful and coherent image.
I hope this small selection of images inspires you to ditch the icons every now and then and get out a find your own gems.