With regards to photography, the ability “to see” is critical. While this may sound elementary, I want to add a spin. I offer you the following commonly heard warning expressions with food for thought:
“Look Out” - it implies you need to be careful. From a photographic standpoint, it’s what most photographers do when they look for a composition - with their heads up, they look straight out to see if they can find a picture. There’s a lot more “to see” than just straight out.
“Heads Up” - this also implies you should be careful. From a photographic standpoint, it opens up the potential to create new photos as a great composition may exist above your eye level.
“Watch Your Step” - this implies you should be aware of your actions so they don’t cause harm. From a photographic standpoint, it’s what every photographer should do to realize there’s a plethora of images at ground level.
Watch Your Step is the focus of this article - realize the photographic potential that exists at your feet. Let me erase the negative connotation of the ground. If you drop something on the ground, you’ve been taught to leave it there because the ground is dirty. Photography provides you the opportunity to dispute the fact the ground is bad. You won’t capture a grand landscape or a sweeping vista, but you will photograph an intimate scene or small section of the whole. The more you “watch your step,” the more easily you’ll spot great images that lie at your feet.
One of the beauties of photographing groundscapes is the time at which great ones can be made aren’t restricted to the sunrise and sunset times of the grand landscape. Some of my best ground scape images were made in the middle of the day in bright sun, in the open shade, or on an overcast afternoon. I find that shade opens a bigger window of time at which good ones can be created because the light is soft. But there are subjects that work well if you exploit the deep shadows and harsh contrast of mid day sun. Soft and delicate subjects tend to work better in the shade while those that evoke a sense of hardness work well in strong sun.
To find a great ground scape, slow down your pace. Stop every so often and look back. A good one may go unnoticed if you don’t occasionally turn around. Look to your left and right as you amble along the path, sidewalk, trail or wherever else your travels lead. First look at the entire area at your feet and then stop and use “telephoto eyes” to zoom into sections of your environment. Walk a little farther and do the same as you look left, right, and behind you. If you work at a hurried pace, you may miss some shots. The next time you hear, “You’re grounded,” think of it as a positive thing as it may encourage to look down to make excellent pictures.
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.