I recently returned from my very first visit to the state of Arizona, deep in the orange dry rocks of the American Southwest. I was visiting family and got a lovely introduction to the landscape by going hiking with an AMAZING nonagenarian. Yup, you read that right: “non” as in 92. Active, fit, and sharp as a whip. In addition to trying to soak up her thirst for living, I also worked on my landscape photography, a skill that is sadly lacking in my repertoire.
Every photography discipline, from wedding to portrait to landscape, has its own set of rules and skills. They do not transfer without a fair amount of effort. During my studying for the CPP (Certified Professional Photography) exam, I came across terms like “hyperfocal distance” and the effect of telephoto and wide angle lenses on depth perception and was looking forward to putting them into practice. We visited the stunning Boyce Thompson Arboretum where tall eucalyptus trees perfumed the air and glowed silver in the morning light. We also did a short hike up into the Superstition Mountains during the day and went back for an even shorter night hike in order to view some of the amazing stars while listening to coyotes howl nearby.
It was definitely a test of my skills, both in photography and also in lugging around a heavy camera without falling and rolling into a cactus. The threat is real, I assure you. I still have a lot of practicing to do. I reviewed a lot of beautiful landscape shots made by award-winning photographers and, in addition to the technical side, I believe there is a lot that has to do with having just the right location and researching the heck out of it to see when the light is best and then being at the mercy of weather conditions. And, I suspect, a lot of the magic has to do with going out to the same spot over and over and over again until you get it “just right”.
I’m headed to Florida next month and will probably increase my portfolio of pelican and heron images by about 1,000 but I will also try to capture the beauty of the gulf coast landscape. Let’s just hope I don’t fall into the water…