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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Capturing The Land

Scenic master George Ward gives insight into his passion for photography and how he keeps his vision fresh

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This Article Features Photo Zoom

Phacelia field at sunset, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California
Nikon D700, AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 17-35mm ƒ/2.8D IF-ED at 19mm, Gitzo tripod, 1/6 sec. at ƒ/16
“I do this partly so I don’t unwittingly create similar work to others,” says Ward. “I can deliberately avoid a certain angle, for example. It does creep me out to see images that seem to be deliberately copied from the exact same tripod holes in a relatively remote area. I’m not perfect, but this is something I really try to avoid. Obviously, that may be too idealistic for a small place of spectacular beauty like Yosemite Valley, but that’s usually the exception for me.”

No matter how much research you do online for a trip, there’s no substitute for being there, seeing the lay of the land and talking to locals about some unmarked trail that leads to something special. Ward often goes out for three or four weeks, not even photographing the first few days because he tries to do a lot of hiking and observe features under different light at various times of the day. This gives him barely enough time to really explore a wider area, narrow that down and then work on getting acquainted with the intimate moods and details of a place.

“It takes time for me to become familiar with a place,” he says. “It’s like meeting a new person that I like and getting to know them. This isn’t something to rush.”

For a place like the Valley, the volume of work that’s out there may overwhelm emerging nature photographers. Says Ward, “There will always be special moments full of magic if you persist in finding them, even in the most heavily visited sites. For myself, I find that I’m gravitating more and more to areas that are less frequented—places of boundless space, quietness and relatively pristine air.”

George Ward is one of the leading landscape photographers in America. His images have been widely featured in numerous books, magazines and calendars, and his art prints are part of many private and corporate collections. See more of his work at www.georgeward.com.


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