Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Open Spaces

When I tell people one of my favorite shooting locations is the farmlands and eastern plains of Colorado, (which I often do), I am typically met with a look of absolute confusion, as if the person I am talking to is being punked. I'm a nature photographer - what on earth would interest me about the open plains and farmland??

It all goes back to my formal graphic design training, which permanently engrained in my brain and imagination the concept and beauty of minimalism. Less really is more. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains; a land of magnificent peaks, rugged terrain, and vast forests of Evergreen, Pine, and Aspen, yet I do not have one single photo in any gallery of this type of landscape. I do have a few photos that I may share someday, but overall find it extremely difficult to compose a strong image in the Rockies, whereas in the farmland and desert, it's as if I have to pick from so many exciting and accessible options. For some reason the mystery of big skies, old trees, farm relics, decaying barns, and open land really are what connects me and my art.

Here's a few of my photos from eastern Colorado from the last couple of days. It seems the thunderstorm season is a bit late this year, but incredibly magnificent as the ominous clouds roll over the vibrant sunlit wheat fields. While shooting, I find myself playing a game of hide and seek with the sunlight through the clouds, trying to position myself in areas where the foreground is illuminated, while the sky is obscured by the daunting thunderstorms, creating a surreal contrast.

Some of this is very temporary land, and as urban development is sure to encroach upon and swallow many of these wonderful places within a few years, conforming them to urban sprawl and strip malls, there will be barely a memory of the natural peace and wonder that existed here previously.

You can see some of my previous journeys to eastern Colorado here , and here as well.


Katariina Järvinen said...

Fantastic images, Scott! I love that kind of light, too - even when the lit up area is brightly coloured buildings in front of the dark, stormy clouds.

Didn't know that you have a graphic design background... but it makes perfect sense now. Your compositions are indeed minimalistic and beautiful.

Christina B. said...

Wow! Fabulous images! I still have to say that nature is an incredible artist, but you've done an amazing job of capturing these.
There is something calming about watching a thunderstorm, the pent-up power in them but at such a distance, they move in such a mesmerizing way to me.

schnitzerPHOTO said...

More terrific and inspiring work, Scott. I feel the same about eastern Wyoming and the Montana plains. I feel that it takes a certain state-of-mind to see the subtle, yet powerful, beauty is such expansive landscapes.

Scott said...

Thanks Kati, Christina, and Russ!

Kati, my formal education is in graphic design and multimedia, which morphed itself into web development, from which photography became my escape. :) I dare say I'm a much better photographer than designer.

Christina, the storms are awesome. I have to laugh at myself sometimes because I'll go driving down a farm road towards a dark storm-cloud, only to find myself pulling a quick U-turn and doing a hasty retreat. I think I spend more time running from the storms than chasing them.

Russ, I've been meaning to ask you how you like living in Wyoming compared to Colorado, now that you've been there for a while. I don't ever make it further north than Fort Collins, but I should take a drive with my camera one of these days. Have you had any recent exhibitions?

Thanks all, for your thoughts!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Wonderful photographs, I'm a huge fan of anything to do with the sky,the first one is awesome with contrasts of the lush green grass and the dark ominous clouds!

The second one appears as thought the black ridge of clouds is about to fall...

I too love old deserted buildings...the one in the third photo looks as though it is about ready to collapse! If I look at the third photo I can almost see the clouds swirling around...

I find it interesting you grew up in such a different landscape from what you feel at home shooting...I look forward to the day you decide to share your Rocky Mountain photos!!!


Scott said...

Thanks Heather! I do feel lucky to have so many different types of landscapes within a close drive of me. The thunderstorms on the plains, though, are the most exciting to me.

You're right, in the third one, they were swirling and churning. Shortly after I took the shot, the storm let loose, I retreated to my truck, my truck was pelted with quarter-size hail, and I decided to get back on I-70 and get out!

Here's a nice Rocky Mountain panorama for you from a couple years ago:


Azure Islands Designs said...

I'm in awe...when I opened the link I was mesmerized...what a stunningly magnificent photo!!!!!

That gorgeous blue sky,the rugged mountains, the snow, the trees look like a velvet carpet and if I look very carefully it looks as though there is a building in the lower left hand corner in amongst the trees...just beautiful!!! How wonderful it must be to be standing there...

Thank you so much for sharing...

You are a thrill seeker safe!
I've never thought of myself as a lover of thunderstorms but I live on a beautiful lake (in a small city)facing west and we get some of the most impressive thunderstorms coming from the west...even though the storms are very unsettling I seem to be drawn to watch especially the very severe ones!

Again...thank you for sharing!

Mark Alan Meader said...

Scott: these are all really good, but my favorite is the bottom one. Seems like it's always better to have some kind of subject on the ground, no matter how fantastic the sky is on it's own. The falling rain in the distance against the old building and the trees just works perfectly, although there's noting wrong with the minimalism of the other 2 either. Very simple and graphic. Nice work.

Scott said...

Thanks Heather and Mark

Heather, I am glad you like the panorama! It is actually 7 full-sized photos that I stitched together digitally in Photoshop to create the large panorama. The sad thing is I've never even had it printed - I should one of these days.

Also, I've been meaning to comment on your jewelry for some time - I don't wear much :) but I can still appreciate it, right? Some beautiful work and it's obvious you are very good at it!
- I especially like your turquoise jewelry .

Mark, so true! The third one is definitely the strongest, and does draw you into the scene much more than the others. The other two, I subconsciously fall back to my design days and used to use photos like these as backgrounds, with ample room for copy space. On their own, I think they are missing something (like a strong focal point).
Thanks again for sharing - your critique is very welcome here!

Geminai said...

Love the minimalism, Scott. Funny, definitely not what I think of when I think of Colorado. Nice to see this "other side." I recently caught a bit of our valley's wide open space, too, not quite the plains you're talking about but with a twist .. we've had uncharacteristic storms not seen around here since the beginning of the 20th century and I happened to catch a rainbow .. in the high desert. :)

Will be thinking of you tomorrow, ad Kati's here visiting! We're all 4 heading out to the desert to do some shooting tomorrow. Wish you could join us!

Catalina said...

I just love the dramatic look on those dark clouds and the bright green grass makes for a captivating juxtaposition.

Scott said...

Thanks Kippy! I know I'm very late in a response. Great to hear you showed Kati and Myles such an amazing time. The bear photos you captured alone are enough to call it a successful journey in my opinion! The rainbow photo is wonderful as well. Wish I could have joined you.

Thank you Catalina! I just spent some time on your blog, and am enthralled by your work. Very unique and interesting. I look forward to seeing more of your work! Thanks for viewing.

Note to readers: I am going to be switching from Blogspot to WordPress platform soon. I do hope my blogspot readers will join us on the new site! Also, those of you waiting for the first newsletter, be assured it is coming soon as well.

Last Place Finisher said...

i was just out in Denver and Colorado Springs - just after the recent tornados. it must have been something else to be there during the storms. your pics are breathtaking. the weight of the black and white above creates a strong contrast to the sharp color below. you've captured something unique. your images are memorable. i can hardly wait for the next time thunderheads come in (in san diego??) so I can run out and try to capture a similar sentiment. thanks for the inspiration.