It wasn’t about the gear, it was all about a feeling

As landscape photographers we spend a lot of time talking about our gear. What we used, what our settings were, what processing technique we used. Don’t get me wrong these are all very important to our craft. But there is one thing that we don’t talk about often enough – our feelings.

I know, I know it sounds strange to say, but it is so important to what we do. Let me get this out of the way – yes, I am a guy, and yes, I do have feelings. There I said it. Whew! And I will also say that my feelings have a huge impact on my photography!

A lone tree is silhouetted against the dawn sky along the Rhode Island coast

Tree At Sunrise

On a recent morning I headed out to shoot sunrise, and I had every intention of creating a seascape. I knew where I was going to go, where I was going to stand, and I even had a pretty good idea about what the photograph would look like.

As I hiked to my planned destination, I couldn’t help but notice a lone tree on the crest of a small hill. It silhouette against the still dark sky caught my eye with its simple and recognizable shape. I thought to myself “beautiful” as I walked past, my feet thoughtlessly carrying me to my destination.

I only made it about 30 feet beyond the tree before I stopped. I stood for a moment and thought about what caught my attention, and what I felt. And this is why our feelings are so important! Your photographs reflect what you feel – if you are not photographing something that you are excited and passionate about, it will show in your work!

I realized that what caught my attention was the simplicity of the scene. The simple, but elegant shape of the tree. I was drawn by the simple power of the silhouette, emphasized by the orange glow on the horizon. The soft colors of the sky in the sky an hour before the sun rise. The beauty of the start to a day, where all is quiet and still.

I turned around and started retracing my steps, returning to the view that was drawing my in. I slowly setup and began working the scene, changing locations and angles until I found a composition that isolated the tree against the horizon. I tiny piece of Narragansett Bay can be seen in the frame, cause hey it was supposed to be a seascape right?

In this case the beauty is in the simplicity. A simple shape and some basic colors are more then enough to tell the story of a beautiful sunrise.

I hope you enjoy “Tree At Sunrise”, and hope you will visit my gallery and pick a photo that stirs a feeling in you for your home!

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  1. Shane August 16, 2015 at 11:43 AM #

    Mike I found your blog post on FB on the, The Artistic Blog. I caught the first phrase and started reading. You have no idea how refreshing this is. Especially the guys having feelings part. That has been my on going campaign. Not that we need to talk about are feeling around a camp fire part you see on TV but exactly what you expressed. Were our feeling are more of Jedi power kind of thing, but talking about them as well doesn’t hurt. I am artist as well and I have learned that the art gods has a way of leading you to one thing for you to see another. Because in my opinion we would probably just screw it up if they told us. Every piece that I have created or even shot with camera that I am proud of happen when I was lead by one thing only to be stopped by a tree on the hill. Letting go and letting your feeling do the directing is difficult because we always want to be in control. I saw a phrase in Gallery here in Houston from a artist. It read, “to be an artist is to be free.” I also understand were you wrote about the shop talk about shutter speeds and so on. My best photos I ever took is were there was nothing planned and I hope I had something to work with after I pushed button. I get a lot of shop talk with my profession as well and I tell them. “Its not about how well you can draw a line, or take a picture. Its about letting go of control and trusting in your feelings.”

    Great article and great art.
    Thanks Shane

    • Mike Dooley August 16, 2015 at 5:08 PM #

      Thank you so much Shane, I am glad you found my post! It is so true, and I try to get this message across in my workshops all the time. It is so easy to get sidetracked.

      I find that I ask myself “why?” all the time when I am out shooting. It helps me to focus (pun fully intended, sorry couldn’t help myself) on what got my attention. It slows me down and makes me think about the art and myself.

      Thanks again for taking the time to stop by, read and comment!


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