Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Friday, July 8, 2016

Take a picture; it’ll last longer

Kelp on a Sonoma County Beach
A study published last month in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that photographing locations and events deepens our appreciation of them.  The Journal is not open access, but here’s an interesting summary in Neuroscience News.

Many of my photographer friends have expressed this thought in their own way.  Photography helps us engage with the world.  We enjoy things more when we pay close attention to them and the camera is a uniquely useful tool for that.

Emerald Bay (Lake Tahoe) Sunrise
This is especially true during a particularly vivid visual experience.  No doubt I would have enjoyed this sunrise over Emerald Bay (Lake Tahoe) last week without the camera, but seeing it through the lens made the experience more intense.  Then there’s the opportunity to relive it and share it with others.

Even more connection comes from close inspection, though.  There’s nothing like sitting quietly looking at what’s on the ground or standing with my nose to a tree to foster relationship.

I had a lovely conversation with Todd Pickering during last week’s Lake Tahoe Photo Workshop.  He was talking about photographing details and how these images can tell the story of a place.  Conventional wisdom says that a story is best told with a range of images from wide to close-up; the establishing shot, the mid-range, and the details. I like the challenge of giving the feel of a place with only a few details, though.  Here are a couple of trios of examples.  Can you begin to get a sense of the places from the details? I find them almost tactile in a way that grand landscapes often are not.  I’m inspired to make this a storytelling project on my next trip; stay tuned.

Details, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Details, Barker Pass Road, California
Two side notes from the Journal article; Negative or stressful experiences tend to become more intense when photographed and, “Another instance where photo-taking did not appear to increase enjoyment was when taking photos interfered with the experience itself, such as having to handle bulky and unwieldy camera equipment.  Yes, I recognize that situation, but I'm not complaining,

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Beyond Puppy Love

Coleman Valley Road Sunset, Sonoma County CA

Somehow I’ve come to be identified among my photo friends with sunstars.  Some folks even tease me a bit about it.  Really, though, it’s often not the sunstars that I love so much as the backlight.  

For those of you who are not obsessive outdoor photographers, the direction of light has a vast influence on the character of images.  Backlight, as you have no doubt guessed, comes from behind the subject, more or less directly at the photographer.  This kind of light can be tricky to render well but offers stupendous rewards.  There can also be an opportunity to include a sunstar (sometimes called a starburst) if a bright light source is included in the frame.  I’ve written about the mechanics of making this happen in another post.

Orange Glow near Jenner CA
I popped off a comment in a social media post from Sonoma County last week, saying that I have a bit of a crush on backlight.  Now, near the end of a two-week road trip, I see that many of my favorite images from this trip are back-lighted.  This may, by now, have progressed beyond puppy love.

The Sonoma Coast was breathtaking.  I’m so grateful to Jerry Dodrill for sharing
the beauty of his home turf, for the opportunity to boondock in his backyard, and for the generous flow of ideas.  The humid air there creates an entirely different quality of light.

Sunrise over Lake Tahoe
After a brief overnight with a friend in Napa, I was on to Lake Tahoe, joining Instructors Jerry & Todd Pickering, and 15 or so other students for the Sierra Nevada College Summer Art Workshop in photography.

Thanks for stopping by.  May I suggest checking out summer in Northern California?

More from the road trip are in the Northern California Gallery on the website.

Mule Ear