The Age of Discovery

Canyon Lake S.P., Arizona by Jay Goodrich

American Coot, Canyon Lake S.P., Arizona © Jay Goodrich

The greatest part of being a photographer is that you never know when you are going to discover something brand new and utterly amazing. It may be a near-extinct animal in need of protection or the discovery of a new way of creating. I think that is one of the major draws to photography for me. There is a technical side and an artistic side and mastering it will take my whole life. I often write about abstract painters, discovering new ways of creating, and gaining inspiration from artistic pursuits beyond just photography. I am a firm believer that viewing and partaking in these other pursuits helps me discover and search out different approaches to my craft.

In March, I was in Arizona with my brother-in-law with the desire to photograph wildflowers. Unfortunately, the wildflowers weren’t up yet and neither of us could reschedule due to our hectic schedules. I hadn’t been to Arizona in years so we decided to go regardless and see what we could find. We had a free car, a free place to stay, and his mom was only 15 minutes from Lost Dutchman State Park–one extremely photographic location. I was looking for water reflections to try this new technique I just learned about–a way to create abstract pattern images with reflections in water. I wasn’t sure if I could actually figure out how to accomplish it, but like new vegetables to a toddler, it is all worth a try, if only one try.

We convinced the marina manager of Canyon Lake State Park to let us into where the boats were parked in order for me to get compositions of varying shapes and multi-colored reflections. A few photos into the process I began to see what I wanted, a very graphic-design oriented abstraction of color, shape, and line. While shooting, some American Coots decided I would be worth a food hand-out and moved into my frame. By doing so, I was able to create a composition that highlighted my abstraction and a little of the native wildlife in the area. The photo is a success for me because the coot is a discovery in the frame for the viewer and it is actually helping to create my abstraction by moving the surface of the water as it swims.