Important Photos – Spring
Last May I was asked to teach “A Natural Eye” for The Cuyahoga Valley Photographic Society. They are sitting smack in the middle of a photographic gold mine, The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, just south of Cleveland. I seldom have time to make my own photographs during a workshop, and turn that part of me off, but one afternoon we all went to a place they knew had beautiful cliffs and spring vegetation that was just starting to emerge. I said I would wander along a particular trail, and would be happy to look through cameras and answer questions. Most folks split on their own to try new ideas, and after about an hour of helping a few people, I found myself alone. The biggest technical difficulty I was pointing out was that while many people were struck by the beauty of the new leaves above them, they had to be careful not to include the sky on this bright overcast day if they did not want big pieces of blown out white in their compositions. It was a challenge to be sure, since the positioning of the trees, cliffs, and sky was not easy. I rounded a corner and noticed a steeper cliff wall than I had seen before, perhaps fifty feet high. Part way up was a giant rock that had separated itself from the wall, landing on its side like a giant table. And right above it, nestled against the wall, was a delicate young tree with a lace work of fresh green leaves and slender black branches. “That’s it”, I thought. “The right place to get the right angle without the sky. Often when you change your position everything else changes, and great ideas stay just that, but in this case it all worked out. I played with focus, letting the dark rocks fall away, and in printing have kept the rocks a background element, letting the viewer’s focus be on this essence of spring.