About Me

My photo
Ansel Adams once said that a true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. He then went one to write volumes about his photographs, and he would apparently talk about them to anyone who would listen. So much for pithy quotes. Since this is my blog, I will ignore Ansel Adams, and I will use this space to share the stories behind some of my favorite photographs: what I saw when I created the images, how the photos came to be, and why they are important to me. Consider this a behind-the-scenes look at my creative process. If you like what you see here, please visit my photography website: RobertBurnsPhotography.com

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Morning Mist and Light - Cades Cove 10-12-08

I displayed this photograph at an exhibit whose theme was “a moment in time.” I was discussing this image with an attendee, and I mentioned that I happened to be at the right spot at the right time to capture the mist and sunlight. That was a poor choice of words, because it implied that it was a lucky shot. “Don’t you think that most good photographs are mostly a matter of luck?” she asked. I quickly said no. I had been shooting in this area of Cades Cove for several years, and I knew that if I arrived at that spot in the early morning just as the sun was rising, I stood a good chance of catching the sunlight scraping across the landscape, interplaying with the fog and trees. This photograph was the result of knowledge accumulated over five years. And it required waking up early, driving to Cades Cove in the dark, waiting in line for the park gate to open, going out to my spot, setting up my camera and tripod, and knowing what lens and camera settings to use. When the magic moment occurred, I was ready. Canon 20D HDR Image from three exposures Photomatix Pro f/8 ISO 100 28-200mm lens @80mm To see a larger version of this photograph, click here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sandra at Sunrise - St. Simons Island 6-7-06

On June 7, 2006, I was fortunate enough to produce three of my favorite photographs of all times. Two are contest finalists, and all three are framed and on display in my home. This photo of my wife Sandra was taken at 6:24 AM. Sandra doesn’t like to have her picture taken, but she has never refused my request to pose for one of my photographs. For this photo, we went out to the beach before sunrise so that I could set up the shot. To capture her entire silhouette, I had to lie face-down in the sand. I asked her to open her stride a bit and to hold her hands out from her side. To add interest, I had her hold a starfish that I had purchased at the local shell shop. We practiced the pose so that when the sun started to rise, we were ready. I just had to wiggle around a bit and reposition my tripod to capture the composition that I wanted. Months later, I was talking about this image, and I made the observation that there were two stars in the photo: the starfish and the sun. Someone made an even more astute observation that there were actually three stars: the starfish, the sun, and Sandra. How true. Canon 20D. Cropped vertically from an original horizontal composition. f/8 1/60 sec. ISO 400 10-22mm lens @ 16mm.

Flowers in the Breeze - St. Simons Island 6-7-06

On June 7, 2006, I was fortunate enough to produce three of my favorite photographs of all times. Two are contest finalists, and all three are framed and on display in my home.  Impressionistic photography attempts to convey the essence of the subject, rather than an accurate representation.  To be perfectly honest, photo impressionism is a somewhat risky endeavor, because not every viewer likes this sort of thing. And there is always the possibility that it can be seen as pretentious and self-indulgent. If I’m lucky, the impressionistic photograph will elicit in the viewer an emotional response. However, it is imperative that the photograph elicit a reaction in me. This image is a blended exposure of two photographs taken at about 7:11 PM. It was a windy evening, and the sea grass was being whipped back and forth. A shutter speed of 1/4 sec. resulted in a pleasing blur that captured the energy of the moment. The diagonal lines add excitement, and the grass adds texture. Whenever I view this photo, I feel the warm evening wind, I smell the sea grass and flowers, and I taste the salt in the air. This was a finalist in the Sheperd Spinal Center’s photo contest. Canon 20D f/20 1/4 sec. ISO 100 10-22mm lens @ 22mm.

Morning Star - St. Simons Island 6-7-06

On June 7, 2006, I was fortunate enough to produce three of my favorite photographs of all times. Two are contest finalists, and all three are framed and on display in my home.  I had previously purchased this starfish at the local shell shop with the intention of using it as a prop in some of my beach photographs. “Are these shells from around here?” I asked the proprietor. “No,” she replied, “We don’t get shells like these on our beaches. These come from the Philippines.” A day or two later, with my Philippine starfish still in its original bag, I headed off to the beach with Sandra, where I photographed “Sandra at Sunrise” (see separate post for details). Thirty minutes after making that photo, I shot the starfish by itself lying on the sand, with the low morning light raking across it and the sand ripples. I had already spent several days at St. Simons, and I was frustrated by the clear blank skies that imparted dull lifelessness to my landscape efforts. But when I got this shot framed, and I looked through the viewfinder, I knew I had a winner. The starfish provides the entry point for the viewer's eye. The sand ripples and the shimmer of light take the eye to the horizon, where in the absence of clouds, there is a lovely gradation of color, repeating the blues, browns and oranges of the starfish and beach. While shooting this starfish, I heard excited footsteps heading my way. I looked up to see a young boy pointing at me while crying out to his mother, “Look what he just found!” I quickly told him the truth about the starfish’s origins, and then I went back to shooting, before I could gauge his reaction. For this shot, I had to lie face-down in the wet sand. This was a second-place winner in BetterPhoto.com’s photo contest. Canon 20D f/8 1/13 sec. ISO 100 10-22mm lens @ 10mm.