Ideas fuel Eddie Soloway's photography. Many are out of the box; most are at least slightly askew from the conventional wisdom of picture-taking. Eddie is a skilled photographer as well as a gifted workshop instructor, and we asked him to share some of the ideas that inspire him to create imaginative images. This is the first of a three-part series of Eddie's L&E Quick Takes.
"We're in charge of our own photo adventures," Eddie Soloway says, explaining that these quests don't have to be climbs to the tops of mountains. "Adventure means taking a different path," he says. "It can mean getting down on the ground for a really low angle shot, or photographing not the entire flower but a backlit petal."
Or it can indicate how we think about taking photographs.
"What I often see on photo tours is a van pull up along the side of the road, people hop out with their tripods already fully extended and the cameras fixed on top. They plant the tripod next to the van, take their pictures and they're off again—and for the rest of the day every photograph is from that perspective."
The side-of-the-road method isn't for him. "I like to tap into the childlike curiosity that pulls me up into the branches of a tree or leads me off the trail. It opens up opportunities for all kinds of new images—and it's a lot of fun."
Eddie sees himself as "a visual detective"—snooping around, observing, always curious, not sure what's going to happen. "If you fall into the adventure zone as a photographer, all kinds of things come up." And pretty soon, he suggests, that attitude becomes part of your repertoire.
So look around. Think: What if...? And: Why not...?
Of course, there's another part to the adventure equation, and that's matching imaging techniques to ideas. Or maybe we should say experimenting with imaging techniques.
For example: "Say I'm on a path along a stream, but what I really want to do is be down at the stream, not along the path. I go down along the side of the stream and I move up and down, back and forth, looking for, say, reflections. I'm watching the movement of the water. When I find something that pulls me in, something that I feel connected to—and usually it's a quality of the light—then I open up the technical box.
What can I do here? Well, maybe I can put the camera on a tripod and play with different shutter speeds for this reflection. I don't know what the buildup of light and motion will give me over a one-second or five-second exposure, but I want to find out. I might think, what if I give the scene a little more motion? So I hand hold the camera, close down the aperture, drop the ISO to get a longer shutter speed and move the camera, maybe with the flow of the water. A lot of this is simply being curious."
Eddie advises that you take a lot of photographs in a lot of different ways when you're faced with factors you can't control—like changing light or motion. "You need to hit it with more than one exposure and control the things you can control, like shutter speed, depth of field and the speed of your motion."
So don't take the picture everyone else takes—and don't be limited by your own expectations. "Never go out expecting one thing," Eddie says. It may not show up in an interesting way—or it may not show up at all. "Be open to what's there."
And he adds, "If you ever need a coach, someone to show you the way, bring along a kid. What he sees will lead you to all sorts of imaging adventures."
Click here for Part II in the series.
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