Friday, January 8, 2010

Capturing the Experience

I really like photography.  I like the challenge of finding an interesting and unique subject, waiting for perfect light, releasing the shutter, viewing my captures, processing the image, and sharing it with others.  Yes, I really, really like photography.  But, capturing beautiful images is not the fire that fuels my passion.  In fact, photography is really only a byproduct of what really motivates and pushes me.  

The crunch of fresh fallen snow under my feet, the twinkle of silvery glitter stretching across a high mountain lake, the calm of the morning without any man-made sounds, the giggle and call of a small stream. Miles and miles and miles of untouched, unsoiled, ever-changing land.  In a word, wilderness.  To experience wilderness is, I believe, to see a better picture of who we are, and who we are made to be.  And this is the catch.

Photography cannot possibly capture that "experience".  Every element of the photographic experience is man-contrived, in an effort to bring back some small slice of the emotions once felt.  At best, the slice is inadequate.  At worst, it makes a mockery of the mysterious complexity we call life.

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting a series of articles highlighting my latest approach to maximizing the quality of my images.  These writings will focus on a method for capturing large format quality images using a digital SLR camera, a process that I believe is important to wilderness photographers who do not want to carry the weight of large-format photography equipment.  I am excited about this information, and look forward to sharing it.

Yet, at the same time, even though these methods do dramatically increase the quality of my images, they do nothing to capture more of the experience.  Just like a storefront window, these techniques let us see what could be, but they do not allow us to touch it.  Or to hear it.  Or to smell, or taste it.  And without these senses, all of our senses engaged, what we see in a photograph--any photography--is still only small part of what the wilderness experience has to offer.

And so, I hope that instead of being satisfied with what you see here, you will be inspired to go, go out, and experience wilderness.

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