by Mitch Moraski

Whether you’re a actor, comedian, painter, or in my case a photographer, we all strive for new and unique ways to perfect our craft. We’re all considered “artists”. We all want to be at the top of our game, and we all seek new and exciting challenges. For Tom Cruise it’s a new role, for George Carlin it’s more laughs, for me it’s better light, better images, and greater satisfaction from my work.

My goals as a nature photographer are to draw my viewers in. Watch them analyze, dissect, appreciate, and most importantly learn, what goes into an image. In some cases, depending upon the individual, there is a great deal of admiration, and in others, simply put…”it’s just not their style or taste”. That’s part of the program! I can accept and appreciate that.

In this next issue I will share with you the joy of creating the “art” in my photography.

Where it comes from, how I see it, sometimes I cannot answer. It just happens. Fortunately, composing and subject placement came naturally for me. I’m drawn to the elements of surprise. I can be with a companion on a shoot and he or she will walk right past my next piece of art. So why don’t they see it…?

There are certain ingredients I look for when creating “artistic” images. Directional light puts emphasis on texture. I look for intensity of color and the impact it will have on the subject and viewer, converging lines, parallel lines, diagonal lines, repeating patterns, circles and curves, and reflections. Within this I incorporate skills and techniques learned from years of experience. The rule of thirds, subject placement, balance, perspective, depth of field and exposure all play a part in the creative process. And of course a sturdy tripod !

Lobster Bait Traps, Acadia N.P., Maine 
This particular day saw an increase in cloud cover. The clouds provided me a natural canopy that diffused the light.

I knew that lobster boats in the harbor would be scarce, so my sole purpose of this shoot was to photograph images of buoys, traps and ropes concentrating on patterns, designs and such.

What a treasure chest! On a day when most photographers would have packed it in because the light was “bad” I walked away with numerous images. Certainly color was not lacking here. The red, yellow and blue are highly defined and compliment one another. The soft light allowed for detail to hold in the shadow areas.

The placement of the traps is determined by the law of gravity. The diagonal flow of the edge of the crate determined my angle of view.

The fact that I did not include the entire trap helps contain the main subject and fills the frame. And most important, it tells a story, however brief, of a way of life in Maine. It’s a keeper!

The Wake, Palermo, Maine
Sometimes I just get lucky! The right place at the right time. I had just finished loading my kayak, when a group of fisherman appeared on the scene. The wake left by their boat required me to shoot from the hip as the ripples danced across the surface. This is the one time a tripod did’nt come into play. This shot required setting a high frame rate of five frames per second using a hand held IS lens.

Just the setup I use for photographing waterfowl! It also required some quick thinking in terms of subject placement focal length. A high contrast scene, my metering was set on evaluative, as time did not allow for any precise meter readings. Images like this last only a handful of seconds. This image caught me completely by surprise. The key is to be open to and ready for those serendipitous surprises.

Mossy Stream 
The vibrant green of the rocks is what attracted me to this scene, and is that vibrant green is certainly the dominant color, even the subject, of this image. Soft diffused light again provided low contrast conditions for an otherwise high contrast scene.

I first composed the image without my tripod, as should be standard for all landscape compositions. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with composition, something difficult to do from a tripod. From background to foreground, camera placement is critical. My angle of view is such that I’m shooting “into” the stream. Proper camera placement emphasizes a strong “S” curve in the stream, and continual flow out of the bottom left of the frame. This gives the viewer the feeling that I’m actually standing in the water. I’ve incorporated a balance between the water and a strong, yet not overpowering, foreground element in the rock. The use of a warm polarizing filter helped in reducing glare. An exposure of two seconds was used to create a soft silky effect in the water. This also adds the dimension of contrasting textures between the hard rock and soft meandering stream.

False Helebore
This image is one of my favorite so-called “art images” that I’ve produced.

The interaction of lines and overall monochromatic color make this image attractive to my eye. The patterns of the leaves flow and compliment one another. No one leaf dominates the entire image.

The diffuse light of the forest canopy required the use of an 81B warming filter to help reduce the blue cast usually associated with open shade conditions.

This light allows you to maintain detail in all shadow areas, yet the folds in the leaves cast a slight shadow to help create separation for a nice sense of depth and texture.

This was shot using a Canon 50mm macro lens at f32 and Fuji Velvia film.

Leaf and Stream
Often times you’ll find it takes just one small object to convey a message. Here the leaf tells of the changing of seasons; its simple yet very effective. The vibrant orange leaf compliments the color of the rock, yet it stands on it’s own against the flowing silky water.

In this image, an exposure of two seconds with an aperture of f22 allows for the blurring of the water and allows the leaf to be the dominant point of interest. On the left side of the image, soft muted touches of autumn colors are seen below the surface, again suggesting the time of year, but not overpowering the main subject.

The placement of the leaf uses the rule of thirds.

On those overcast days, instead of lamenting the sweeping landscapes you can’t photography, try searching for those artistic images that this wonderful light helps you create.