This image – Dew drops on green plant – has been getting some attention lately and I remembered that it’s often the simple things that work. The dew covered plant is a subject that has been photographed again and again but each photo is unique and succeeds in transmitting that special morning freshness.
I took this photo on a foggy morning while I was trying to enrich my Magic of the Forest collection. After walking through the woods I got to a clearing and noticed the beautiful drops of dew on the green plants. I used my 90 mm macro lens, an exposure of 1/250 and f/8 @ ISO 160. I used the flash to make the dew drops shine a little bit and pop out. Even if I photographed certain places a lot of times in the past 9 years, I am always delighted to find something interesting every time. I think this is the beauty of visual arts: you can discover a place over and over again and see it in a different way, a different perspective every time.
Following an unknown mountain river has led to some great findings. After walking up the river for a couple of hours, me and my brother were amazed to hear the sound of a powerful waterfall roaring. We had no knowledge of a waterfall on that river and as this was our first time there had no idea where the sound was coming from. After some exploring we managed to find it: the river was suddenly falling of a steep cliff before carving into the mountain and getting lost underground, only to reappear again a couple of hundred meters downstream.
The weather turned cold suddenly and rain began to fall so the steep cliffs were really slippery, but we knew we had to explore this beautiful place. As the rain fell the river swelled and the waterfall roared even louder. I was near the waterfall and felt it’s true force – drops of water flying through the air swept by the currents and lifted into the cold air. We climbed down as low as we could to get a view of the steep slope. Couldn’t get all the way down to where the water was disappearing into the mountain but got low enough to see the whole place from below.
I used my trusty wide 10 mm lens but it was still not enough to capture the whole scene so I made a panorama from three shots. I used f/11 at 1/2 seconds (had to use a closed down aperture to get everything in focus) and ISO 100. This shot was especially hard to get because water was pouring on to the lens from the rain and from the waterfall, but at the end of the day it was worth it. the green moss on the roots and rocks, the steep cliffs, the tall pine trees up in the distance seen from an unusual angle – all helped to create a photo of a wild hidden and dangerous world. This angle emphasizes the steepness of the place and think it manages to transmit part of my feelings from this dangerous experience.
There is the theory of creative limitation saying that limiting yourself to a single mean of expression or technique – one instrument or style of playing in music, one technique of painting or one lens or technique in photography – can make you more creative and make you see things differently. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t believe this to actually work, but a couple of months ago I decided to try and use focal lenses that I don’t use so often. For me it means using tele lenses more and searching for scenes I usually ignore. I think this affected the way I see a frame and compose a shot, the way I search for subjects and points of interest in images. I’m pretty content with the results so I’m going to try and experiment further with different mindsets.
The photo that I chose to illustrate this article was taken with a 70-300 mm lens at 70mm. On one side the sun was setting and on the opposite side the moon was just rising above a tree. The terrain didn’t allow me to change my position too much and if I would have chosen a wider lens the moon would have only been a small dot in the frame. So I shot it just above a nearby tree with green branches and thought that less of the tree would make for a simple minimal and modern aesthetic.
This photo of wild horses on a green meadow is one of my favorite spring images. It stuck trough the years and when I think about spring photos that I have in my portfolio this image always comes to my mind.
It’s taken some years ago in 2010. It was taking at the end of a day with no extraordinary conditions for photography when we were about to call it quits. We were following a herd of horses and didn’t have much luck getting close. The clouds were covering the sky and rain was approaching but as we got to a hilltop a ray of light from the setting sun started shining over the meadow and was casting beautiful long shadows of horses and trees. The silhouettes of the horses give a sense of the grand scale of the landscape. The soft light gave that fantasy landscape aesthetic that I always search for, a fine art aesthetic. I used a tele lens at 90 mm and a 1/320 shutter speed with f4,5 because I was shooting handheld due to the fact that the conditions were rapidly changing and didn’t have time to set up a tripod.
I’ve seen the setting sun shining trough the rain this evening, and I remembered about this photo. Sometimes the most interesting moments and unplanned. I was returning after a journey I made to photograph a cave (more on cave photography in the future I hope), and the day didn’t turn so well. It started raining, I had a long drive and the rain was just pouring down and it was really tiring to keep driving.
I decided to pull over to rest and see the landscape. I got off from the car and only took a few steps and the sun started shining trough the clouds and back-lighting the rain drops. I ran around like crazy trying to find something nice to highlight this beautiful phenomenon and found a tree on the meadow.
I had my 90mm lens with me, and it prove to be enough to frame this shot. I used a wide aperture (f2.8) to be able to have a fast shutter speed (1/200) to “freeze” the raindrops. Seeing them backlit by the sun always seems special to me even when I am just observing and I don’t have my camera with me, so I am really glad that I got this shot. It really seems magical to me.
There are a lot of hidden valleys that are still unexplored near the place that I live. I often go trough these wild valleys in search of natural wonders and inspiration, and there isn’t a single time I come back without finding something really interesting and worth photographing. You can’t access these places with any kind of transportation, there isn’t any cell phone signal and even GPS signal because of the huge steep cliffs that border the various valleys, so these places feel really remote and wild. Because of this isolation, they have managed to remain pretty much uncharted. It is always a relief to explore such places.
This is a photo take on the same tour as the macro shot here. The river that shaped these rocks and formed beautiful steep gorges still flows today and has a permanent stream of water, so advancing is really difficult. There are also fallen trees and branches that are obstructing the way, not to mention the narrow path that someone exploring this place has to follow. I remember that the first time I was there I really wanted to go further and see new wonders awaiting me around the corner, but the water was just too high so I had to call it a day. I returned many times and every time I managed to go a bit further than the last time, finding some of the most giant caves and some of the most beautiful gorges I have ever seen. Sometimes it’s difficult to come back in one piece, and I have found myself stranded on narrow steep pieces of land because of the rain, but nothing beats the feeling of discovering new things even after years of exploration.
The photo above was taken on an autumn day, the leaves not quite fallen from the trees. The human figure you see is my brother, with whom I was in quite a few risky situations due to our desire to uncover the secrets of this valley. I needed a human silhouette so the viewer would get a feeling of the size of the cliffs, so I told him to go forward and used an ultra-wide angle lens to capture this shot. I used a f 11 aperture to have everything in focus, and the shortest shutter speed that the light and my lens allowed. This kind of photos are usually used for environmental campaigns and also – like many of my photos – for horror movies posters. I think it has something to do with the unknown, the mystery of such photos, because they give a sense that you don’t know what may come after the next corner. I really like this feeling too, so I will be taking and posting more images from this place in the future. The “hidden valley” series is always expanding.