Craft Matters

Chasing Dogwoods in Yosemite

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Dogwoods, Yosemite

Taxes neatly finished and paid (ouch), it’s time to consider a trip to Yosemite to photograph the dogwoods. The 2010 image here was somewhat hastily taken in very low light on my way back to the car. I saw this single branch hanging out over the Merced River and was able to set up my Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod and then make multiple mutli-second exposure attempts in a gentle but persistent wind.

The dogwoods in Yosemite generally peak the early to middle weeks of May but like California wildflowers, it can be hit or miss in terms of timing. It’s been a rather steady raining Spring which may delay things a bit.

Outdoor Photographer BS.1

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I’ve been a subscriber to Outdoor Photographer (OP) for years. I don’t read OP for its information, rather, I read it for its mis-information. There’s a reason the magazine doesn’t solicit reader feedback and opinion — it’d be ripped apart by those with more fundamental understandings of photography.

Case in point. Elizabeth Carmel is featured in the May 2011 issue under the title “Beyond the Range of Light”. A host of questionable, if not inaccurate statements, are made throughout the article:

“At first, she relied on the 2½-square format to give her maximum compositional versatility as well as image quality when she shot film.”

Film format has absolutely nothing to do with composition. Nor does camera “versatility” unless your speaking about tilts, swings and shifts. And 2½-square format is not maximum image quality.

“I believe that great fine-art photographs are a gateway through habitual thinking to a larger perspective.”

Nothing about a photograph has to be “fine art” to expand your perspective. Photo journalism is clear proof of that.

“Some of my images are more my own constructs, where I seek the realization of a specific vision in my final print.”

All images are constructs. This Ansel Adams rip-off pseudo babble, if correctly stated, would emphasize the importance of crafting exposure as a necessary means to realize the image in its final print form. The process is known as visualization.

“In Carmel’s photographs, you can see the evidence of how Photoshop lets a true artist translate the moment of capture to the final print.”

“True” artists use their tools transparently to create art. It’s called craft. The LAST thing a photographer wants to hear is the question “You used Photoshop to make that, didn’t you?”

It’s unfortunate that Elizabeth is subject of my first rant against Outdoor Photographer. As a commercial landscape photographer her work is to be admired. But she presumably approved this article that is full of mis-truths, inappropriate conclusions, and philosophies that deserve broader perspective.