Making a truly outstanding photograph takes time. Seldom is anything of value achieved when the process is rushed and I have programmed myself to remember this when an image comes to mind. Working deliberately gives me time to consider different perspectives, both literally and figuratively; moreover, patience is extremely important when light is rapidly changing because one slip up can cost me the photograph. By slowing the process, I afford my mind the time to do the work instead of giving my camera decision-making power. In other words, I don’t shoot and look, I look and then expose; looking requires time.
When I see a waterfall my initial reaction is to appreciate the beauty and move on. Waterfalls as subject matter are grossly overdone and it is quite challenging to create a truly unique or engaging photograph with one as the main element. While working in the Northwest Territories in Canada I came upon several enormous waterfalls and after much thought and consideration, I decided to photograph a narrow perspective instead of including every ounce of falling water in the frame. At the time, I was working with film and it would be two months until I saw the developed photographs.
While using film I had to get things right the first time because I couldn't see the end result (i.e. in an LCD) while in the landscape. I had to think through the photograph, step by step, because the conditions and location were often not repeatable. Working with film trained me; slowing down and taking my time helped me create better photographs. After switching from film to digital, I continued to think before making the exposure. Even though the LCD makes life easier, it also makes it more convenient to give up control to the camera. I always remember that I'm the artist.
With the below photograph from Rhode Island, I had noticed the shadows from the trees and, after much consideration, decided they were enough of a reason to make a photograph. I felt they might help lead the viewer's eyes towards the rocks and water and wanted to include them in the photograph. (As an afterthought, not only do they achieve that goal, they also help keep the viewer's eyes within the photograph.) I packed two lenses because of uncertainty and painstakingly* climbed down to the base of the falls. I used a 6-stop ND filter plus a 0.9 Grad ND to manage the brightness of the light and to slow down the exposure to 6 seconds at f5.6.
*At the time I wore a knee brace and several weeks later I underwent a previously scheduled knee surgery. I had spent more time climbing down the slippery short distance to the front of the waterfall than actually making the exposure!
I made these photographs using my film and digital Hasselblad cameras.