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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tutored By Nature

Fellow landscape photographer Tom Till describes why David Muench is one of the greatest living photographers and why his work stands the test of time and remains inspirational

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What I Learned From David Muench

1 Look for the very best foreground you can find for a wide-angle image. This may mean scouring a site for hours to find the perfect patch of lichen, clump of flowers or evocative pool of reflection water.

2 "Bad weather means good photos" is a mantra David repeats often. It's one of his great contributions to the art. Before him, with the exception of Adams, most photographers wanted to please editors with Paul Simon "all the world's a sunny day" images.

3 The job of a landscape photographer requires vast amounts of time and planning. In his book about the Sierra Nevada, David says that no photographer can appear at a site at a random time on a random day and expect good results.

4 Somehow, when you have enough images, get them in a book. Whether it's ebooks or paper, books are essential artifacts of your work and essential to building a career.

5 Work hard at getting a new take on an oft-photographed subject. Use the weather, the moon, clouds, foregrounds and unusual vantage points.

6 Include more than one point of interest in your images—this can be a reflection, a great foreground, an expanded color palette, a backlit sun star or some subtle, but beautiful detail others may walk past.

7 Visit a good location countless times. All great gestures of the Earth's landscape are in constant flux. Visiting them often always provides a new opportunity and a new way of seeing the many facets of their beauty.

8 Bracket your compositions. Now an easy task with digital, David constantly worked this way with 4x5 film. Over the years, I would notice many different scenarios of one shooting session, all different and all good.

9 Pay it forward with your images by making them available to environmental groups, local, national and international. Protecting what we shoot is more important than our imagery and careers.

10 Work under the tutorship of nature. No university or workshop teaches us all we need to know as nature and landscape photographers. Only hours in the field with an open heart can do that job.


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