Photographing the Power of Nature
Her will is just simply imposed and we just have to accept it. Nature will do whatever it wants and as guest in this planet we either accept it or perish that's that.
There is basically no other photographic project which can capture such images which are both powerful reminders of Nature's power yet extremely beautiful as this one.
The theme is quite simple in its scope; you must record images that show the effects of mother nature in all of her intensity, but you must do this with taste and without purposely recording images of grief or human suffering, at least that is the intention.
Overflowing rivers, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, snow storms, scorching heat, sand storms the relentless push of the ocean upon our shores and so many more make excellent images to record which without doubt will show every single one of us that we are simply at the mercy of nature's fury.
The project has a simple theme but recording many of these images is not as simple as it may sound. Many attempts at photographing such images may put you in harms way, you are therefore encouraged to do so with great care and a long lens.
You must also play detective and be alert for weather reports and be ready to move on the spot. Most of nature's powers can be anticipated such as a hurricane, a snow storm, sometimes even a tornado or water spout if you live near the ocean.
Many images cannot be anticipated and you will probably need a good deal of luck to record such. Yet there are still many photographs that with some planning can be achieved such as the strength of a flowing river and any rapids found therein. The power of a rough surf, the awesomeness of a thunder storm and its accompanying lighting strikes.
Images that can be predicted or at least somewhat anticipated can be such as those associated with lava flows or less threatening ones such as a majestic waterfall.
There are other images that are easy to record and can be viewed at will. These are images of nature slowly taking charge and reclaiming our world such as the jungle slowly devouring man made structures. Ancient ruins and temples are prime examples and there are many such sites in many parts of Asia and South America.
You have to balance the act of taking the photo between a true representation of this power and the beauty that the photograph is capable of presenting. The images do not have to be solely of destruction this is not the main point of focus, the idea is to show through your photographs the power behind the forces and lead an audience to imagine what that power is capable of doing.
One may have to complete and complement images with other sources such as satellite images and post action shots such as the effects left behind a passing thunder storm. A variation and a very good one is to also show the process of recovery afterwards such as new plant growth after a river levies back down to a normal flow. It is also worthwhile to record images that can connect or show purpose such as a heat wave, the effects on crops and the recovery by these same crops usually experienced after a raging rain storm.
There is a fine line between this project and other photographic themes not to mention exercising a degree of photojournalism on your part. By using discipline and being somewhat callous yet sensitive, one can usually achieve the intention of the theme.
Take shots that show details like the way the water breaks upon rocks in a river scene. The action of the wind upon trees and the menacing clouds that accompany a hurricane. The crashing waves upon the shore or upon any structures such as piers. A funnel cloud of a tornado and the debris field which it raises. The lightning strikes and cloud formations. The many fallen trees and fallen leaves; in other words, tell a story.
Your shots should also include long shots and wide shots that add detail and puts the phenomenon into perspective as it relates to the surrounding environment.
Use judicious metering so as to allow for the recording of fine details and use flash when appropriate to highlight the same but only if it will be within an effective range of the subject or perhaps to freeze the movement of subjects such as rushing water or the moment the water breaks upon a still surface.
Judge the elements and then decide if a slow or a fast shutter speed will work well to record the effects to fit your needs.
Although your camera meter is probably great at recording a good depth of field, it would probably be to your advantage to use it manually and set the f-stops as per your intended effect.
This theme has, like many others, been photograph many times before so you must also find new ways of representing it and it goes without saying that you must be alert and careful with all of your photographic endeavors especially when pursuing this theme and never put the safety of others or yours below any photograph.
Your images, if pleasing and technically sound, have many suitors such as the many photographic publications currently available, the calendar industry, the poster industry as well as others. Photo stock houses are always primed to receive submissions representative of the power of nature.
Make sure that you record plenty of strong images and from various angles and with different perspectives.
Do not be afraid to use a monochromatic medium for some of the images, especially when the scene does not lend itself well for color photography such as a very dark and grey sky or even a tornado funnel and many cloud formations.
If you are digitally inclined then some of the images can be enhanced in the areas of color saturation, cropping and color reversals as well as converting color to monochrome and vice verse.
You may also want to combine two or more images into one composition. Here digital is the perfect format.
For less than dramatic color photographs there are a number of filters that will impart some effect upon the scene such as using tobacco, orange, yellow and orange filters.
These, when well used, add charming hues to many darkened or grey scenes, but be aware that they must be used with care as the effects can become too pronounced thus rendering your image as overly artificial and not pleasing.
- The power of mother Nature - National Geographic Photo Contest 2012 - National Geographic
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© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez
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