Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Impressions

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Autumn tree reflections on Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine 1992

Impressions
(revised from 2003 essay published in Outdoor Photographer.)

I enjoy impressionistic art. As a teenager, my mother worked as a docent at the National Art Gallery when we lived near Washington, D.C., so I often had the chance to visit the exhibits.  I was captivated by the en Plein air approach of Monet and by the pointillism of Van Gogh I viewed there.  Art soon became my favorite class during my high school years. My intrigue with the Impressionist movement led to my experiments with blurred many images years later.

The sensation of light and the emotion of seeing a beautiful moment are the qualities of the style I like.   Impressionism, the French school of painting that developed in the late 1800s, has been defined as a method of depicting transitory visual impressions. One early adherent advised other painters to “submit to the first impression” of what they saw.  This idea, in part, can be attributed to the invention of photography in the previous century.  The Impressionist painters saw the enormous potential of revealing the frozen moments of time as seen in photographs.

In their work, the Impressionists chose to emphasize their direct sensory and emotional responses devoid of intellectual thought.  Painters such as Claude Monet were fascinated by the ever-changing lighting conditions outdoors, and they would return to paint the same scene at different times or weather conditions.   More traditional painters of the day painted only in their studios.  The Impressionists painted on location, working quickly to capture the moment before the light changed.  How similar this sounds to landscape photography!

A critical photographic idea grew out of, at least in part, from Impressionism’s sensory method. The concept of the Equivalent, developed by Alfred Steiglitz, relies on the photographer’s intuitive response to a scene to create an emotional equivalent.  Mentored by Steiglitz, Ansel Adams and Minor White taught this approach to their students.  They used the idea in their own work, applying it using straight photographic technique rather than altering reality.  Reflecting on his own path, Adams once wrote, “If I feel something strongly, I would make a photograph, that would be the equivalent of what I saw and felt…. I’m interested in expressing something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.”

Freeman Patterson, in his book Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image, discusses another approach, writing “the “impressionist” photographer deliberately abandons physical exactitude in the belief that he or she can convey the reality of feeling more effectively by doing so.”  Patterson wishes to “help photographers venture into some aspects of the non-literal world of photography and to create (or, for that matter, to record) impressions that convey a truth of feeling or spirit.”  If you are frustrated creatively with traditional methods, you might explore this option.

Most of us photograph the landscape by attempting to capture special events in nature, such as mountains in dramatic light, in a realistic and documentary style. Such literal imagery, if composed well and heartfelt, can speak powerfully about the beauty of the land and express the photographer’s unique perspective.   The danger in this straightforward approach is that images can be so blandly descriptive that the viewer is left unengaged and the artist’s viewpoint unapparent.

For the most part, I photograph directly and realistically.  There is usually little doubt that the subject existed as seen in the photograph.  Ideally, the scene is transformed in a magical way, via composition or light, to make an extraordinary image.  When I make abstractions of nature, the reality of the image is only a question because the exposure itself has altered the reality, such as with blurring water, or that I have isolated the object from surrounding clues, not because I have changed reality.

It seems to me that there is a continuum of possibilities between realistic photographs and photo impressionism, a gray (middle gray?) area where photographs have the attributes of both.  “Autumn tree reflections on Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine 1992″ is a photograph that depicts reality impressionistically.  I exposed the image with my 4×5 camera with a single exposure.  The only factor that “distorts” reality is that the shutter speed used blurred the reflections.  Is blurred water reality?  Is it more real if a fast shutter speed stops the water’s action?  The answers are less important to me than being open to exploring artistic options and having the willingness to experiment in hope for creative inspiration.

My photograph here was made using straight photographic technique, yet evokes an impressionistic feel, returning me to that brilliant autumn afternoon, when harmonious colors blurred in water, like a painting!

______________________

For information about William Neill – Photographer, A Retrospective, private workshops and to connect via social media, visit WilliamNeill.com to sign up for his newsletter updates.

Open Studio Tour coming soon! Sierra Art Trails – October 5, 6 and 7!

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

The photo above shows what my living room looks like during Sierra Art Trails.

We are very pleased to announce that we will be open again for Sierra Art Trails 2018, which is celebrating 16 years of supporting the Arts in the Yosemite Foothills! Mark your calendar for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 5th, 6th and 7th from 10 AM to 6PM. My home studio will be full of my fine art prints, books, and posters. Come visit me, and you can also visit Yosemite while in the area!

NEW BOOK

Featured this year will be my new retrospective William Neill – Photographer, a Retrospective. The first printing is now in limited supply so consider coming to my studio for your own signed copy. To learn more about the book, to read what “others are saying” see here:

 

Book Reviews
TERRA GALLERIA BOOK REVIEW
ON LANDSCAPE BOOK REVIEW
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE BOOK REVIEW
THE ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHER

Book Essays
THE LUMINOUS LANDSCAPE
OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER


INVENTORY SALE!

Once each year, I offer discounts on a large number of prints in inventory.  The good news is that I have so many photographs, but not enough space in my office, so CLEARANCE is the key word!

I hope to see many old friends and meet new ones too!  Let me know if you think you can make it, and ask any questions if you have them. Also, please share this with friends who you think might be interested. Thanks!

See the official website for more details.
http://www.sierraarttrails.org/index.html

Cheers,  Bill

The cost of admission is $20.00 for all participating venues and includes the Sierra Art Trails Catalog, your “ticket for two” for the event. The catalog includes a list of participating artists, examples of their work, and maps to the locations of artists’ studios, galleries, and other viewing locations.  Artists are scattered throughout our mountain communities. Your catalog and map will guide you to each artist’s venue.

See the official website for more details.
http://www.sierraarttrails.org/index.html

My Favorite Photographs of 2017

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Greetings from the Sierra Nevada. It is that time of year again when we all look back at the events of that last year, and look forward to the year ahead. Many photographers have developed the good habit of editing a collection of their favorite images for the year. The process of self-assessment is a vital part of artistic growth. In the day-to-day rush of life, we don’t often stop to see trends in our own image-making. By turning back the clock, we can see if we’re stuck in a rut or are hopefully making great progress.

I have included capture details, date and time of exposure, in chronological order. I hope you will visit my blog and add your comments or favorites at the bottom of the page.

May 2018 brings you joy, peace, and exciting photographic opportunities.

Cheers to a happy and healthy New Year!   Bill

Best of 2014
Best of 2015

Best of 2016

 

Here is the link to my Outdoor Photographer Magazine essay on the subject from 2010:
Best Of The Year
An annual review of your images can point you in new directions of creativity
By William Neill | March 30, 2010

 


Oaks in Snowstorm, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/15 second at f/22, ISO 6400
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Oak Branches, spring, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 16-35mm F2.8 G SSM II,
1/160 second at f/13, ISO 200
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Purple Plum Blossoms, spring, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 50mm F2.5 ZA,
1/20 second at f/14, ISO 200
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Dogwood in Bloom over the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/2 second at f/22, ISO 200
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Dogwood in Bloom, Yosemite National Park, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/100 second at f/13, ISO 400
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Maple Leaves and Granite Boulder, Yosemite National Park, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/13 second at f/18, ISO 400
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Dogwood and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1 second at f/20, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Salsify Seeds at Sunset, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 50mm F2.5 ZA,
1/160 second at f/2.5, ISO 400
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Salsify Seeds at Sunset #2, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 50mm F2.5 ZA,
1/125 second at f/2.5, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Two Datura Blossoms, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/22, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Pier Reflections, Pismo Beach, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
6 second at f/25, ISO 400
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Boulders and surf, Carpenteria, CA 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 24-105mm F4 G SSM OSS,
6 second at f/16, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Evening Clouds, Ahwahnee, California 2017
PureShot for Apple iPhone 6s plus, iPhone 6s Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2,
1/300 second at f/2.2, ISO 25
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Sunset Clouds, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 24-105mm F4 G SSM OSS,
1/1 second at f/13, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Sunset Clouds #2, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 24-105mm F4 G SSM OSS,
1/40 second at f/6.3, ISO 200
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Grasses. Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/8 second at f/13, ISO 100
@William Neill

 


Shells, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/1 second at f/22, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 

ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1 second at f/22, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Nautilus Shell 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/10 second at f/22, ISO 100
@William Neill

 


Two Nautilus Shells 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/3 second at f/14, ISO 100
@William Neill

 


Sweet Gum Leaves, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/1 second at f/20, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Two Big-Leaf Maple Leaves, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/20, ISO 100
@William Neill

 


Two Big-Leaf Maple Leaves, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/20, ISO 100
@William Neill

 


Autumn Maple Leaves and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1.30 second at f/25, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Autumn Maple Leaves over the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/4 second at f/19, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Big-Leaf Maple Leaves, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1.60 second at f/32, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Cottonwood Leaves, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1 second at f/20, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Sweet Gum Leaves, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/3 second at f/16, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Sweet Gum Leaves #2, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/3 second at f/16, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Braken Fern, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/18, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Chinese Pistache Leaves #2, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/16, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Chinese Pistache Leaves, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/3 second at f/13, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Autumn Oaks, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/6 second at f/11, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Pebbles, Pine Needles and Oak Leaves, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/16, ISO 200
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 


Ice, Pine Needles and Oak Leaves, Ahwahnee, California 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/20, ISO 100
Copyright © 2017 William Neill

 

The Fine Art of Nature for the Holidays

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Greeting from Yosemite! It is that time of year when we start shopping for holiday gifts. I’ve provided you with a list of options that feature my photography. I hope that the holiday season is a happy and healthy one for you.

Happy Holidays,  Bill

____________________________________________

On the Williams Sonoma online store, my photograph “California Nautilus Shell” is available. At the moment, the price of this large archival photograph is seriously discounted.

Exclusively From Williams Sonoma:
CLICK TO PURCHASE

  • 50.25″L x 1″W x 28.75″H, overall.
  • Giclée print signed by the photographer.
  • Set behind Plexiglas and double-thick beveled mats.
  • Wood frame has a painted, high-gloss finish.
  • Ready to hang with D-rings at the back.

_________________________________________________

On the Artful Home, my print “Agave” is available. For details, CLICK HERE. The photograph is handprinted by me here in my studio.

Image Dimensions:  16″H, 20″W
Overall Dimensions:  22″H, 24″W

 

________________________________________________________

 

Original photographs are the highest representation of my art. For pricing information, please contact one of the galleries listed on my Gallery Representation page. Each gallery’s link below features a variety of prints from large format color landscapes to my Impressions of Light series.

The Ansel Adams Gallery
800-568-7398
E-mail: evan@anseladams.com

Susan Spiritus Gallery
714-754-1286
E-mail: susan@susanspiritusgallery.com

The Weston Gallery
831-624-4453
E-mail: info@westongallery.com

The Focus Gallery
781-383-0663
E-mail: vallinophoto@comcast.net

Paragone Gallery
Francie Kelley
310-659-0607
Email: mail@paragonegallery.com

My First Essay for Outdoor Photographer in 1997

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

 

Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada 1995

 

NOTE: This article is reposted from the original essay in 2012…

Today, I had a request from my long-time friend and master photographer Michael Frye to post the essay in which I tell the story of making my favorite image, Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada 1995. Here it is as sent to Outdoor Photographer for first my On Landscape column in 1997.  For more of my essays, see the OP site here.  Michael is mentioning this story is his upcoming blog post:   In the Moment: A Landscape Photography Blog

 

Landscapes for my Spirit
© 1997 William Neill

 

Welcome to Outdoor Photographer’s new column on landscape photography!  I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you on all aspects of the landscape genre.  I have been an avid reader of OP since its beginning and I hope that I can contribute to all the exciting ideas and images that are regularly offered here.

The best way that I can think of to launch this column is to put forth the underlying motivation and inspiration for my photography. Any future discussions on light, or composition, or equipment, or technique will be based on this foundation.  I am not one for learning an approach to creating images unless that route allows for a direct connection with the subject and helps me to communicate my own response to it.  In other words, I keep my approach very simple and pragmatic.  We, photographers as a group, tend to let the technique of photography get in the way.  Ansel Adams often complained of the overabundance of sharp photos with fuzzy concepts!

The beauty of nature is the foundation of which I speak; it motivates and inspires my photography.  When I stand before landscapes of silent rock, reflecting water, and parting cloud, I feel most connected to myself and to life itself.  Seeing and feeling this beauty is more vital to me than any resulting imagery.  Still, I am compelled to try to put on film some visual representation of the sense of wonder I feel, and I suspect that you know that feeling!

In my new book, Landscapes of the Spirit, I describe my evolution as a photographer, especially emphasizing my belief in the great value and need for the wildness and beauty of nature.  This belief emerged from personal experience— a death in my family when I was eighteen.  That summer I happened to be working in Glacier National Park.  My immersion in that landscape during a time of great personal distress opened my eyes to the restorative powers of nature, and led me to a life in photography.  At some deep level, the beauty of my surroundings seeped into my subconscious—the lush colors of a meadow dense with wildflowers, the energy of a lightning storm, the clarity of a mountain lake, the splendid perspective from the edge of a desert canyon.  In an effort to capture and convey these life-affirming discoveries, I began to photograph as I backpacked throughout Glacier.  Within a few years, all I wanted to do was make photographs!

Ansel Adams, in paraphrasing his mentor Alfred Stieglitz, used to remind his students that a great photograph was the emotional equivalent of the photographer’s response to his subject.  Such a lofty goal is rarely achieved.  We are all lucky if but two or three or four times a year we make an image where technique and emotion converge to create a transcendent photograph.  I don’t mean simply a technically excellent and beautiful image.  I mean a photograph that rises above your best and reveals a deeply personal and creative perspective.  In this regard, I am not so sure that pros can claim to have a better “batting average” than the amateur given their relatively different expectations of their work.  In any case, it is good to have reasonable expectations for your own progress.

Over the years, I have continued to search for imagery that, in the words of the great black and white photographer Paul Caponigro, can”… make visible the overtones of that dimension [of Nature] I sought. Dreamlike, these isolated images maintain a landscape of their own, produced through the agency of a place apart from myself. Mysteriously, and most often when I was not conscious of control, that magical and subtle force crept somehow into the image, offering back what I had sensed as well as what I saw.” I think that the photograph here, Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada, 1995, is one of those photographs Caponigro describes.  Rising very early on a summer morning, I hoped for a dramatic and brilliant sunrise on Lake Louise and the glaciers above.  Perhaps it was the two weeks of photographing in rainy conditions that biased my hopes!  I waited patiently for sunrise, but my preconceived vision failed to appear as persistent clouds shrouded the mountains. It was a silent and mysterious dawn.  I simply sat and soaked in the scene.  Finally, I made two exposures, but expected little. I completely forgot about this session during the rest of my trip.  When I saw the film after returning, I was amazed.  I had to think hard about when and where I had made this photograph.  Unconsciously, but facilitated by my experience and instinct, the power and magic of that landscape, at that moment, had come through on film.

The Lake Louise photograph was made with my 4×5 view camera and a 150mm lens.  Due to the use of slow film, small aperture and low light, the exposure was about two minutes long.  Of the two exposures I made, one was horizontal, the other vertical.  The horizontal image looks much like the vertical, minus the rocks in the foreground.  I often like to remove clues and context that show depth or scale in my images, and the horizontal exposure fit my standard approach.  However, the vertical image has a stronger feeling of depth and somehow this subtle sense of scale adds an essential dimension to the composition.  Since the foreground rocks are underwater, and the long exposure also blurred their appearance, they add a little balance and mystery.

 

I had an idea of what I wanted to photograph at Lake Louise that morning, but when it did not materialize, I didn’t feel as if I had to make an image.  The landscape itself presented another idea.  When a concept for an image is forced onto film, creativity can be lost.  By not needing to make an image, I found one.  This lesson is encapsulated by my favorite quote from photographer Minor White,

Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.

So wait, watch and relax!    It is these magical convergences of light and land and camera that keep us coming back again and again!