Even though I travel to so-called exotic locations it doesn’t mean that great images will automatically appear. There are the same creative challenges as photographing in your hometown (although there are very different social challenges). The main difference is that we are usually very jazzed and ready to photograph whenever we travel into our own terra incognito. Yet, this is often when the joy of travel overcomes artistic insight. Exoticism should not carry an image; it should stand by its own photographic gravity.
I have often said that there are four possibilities in a color image – the possibility of intense color, great light, strong action or gesture, and compelling pattern or composition (CLAP). There has to be at least two of these if an image is to have impact. And, sometimes one of these elements adds strong punch, zing, woo-hoo, or punctuation. Like putting an exclamation at the end of a sentence. One takes notice. The punctuation is the zing to an already commendable image.
Recently I was in Nagaland of northeastern India right on the India/Myanmar border. Literally, I was standing on the border; it ran through the middle of the headman’s house. There was serious opium imbibing in extremely dark rooms. I blessed the high ISO capabilities of my Canon 5D Mark II since using a tripod was not an option. However, I didn’t want to photograph the usual “person in front of a fire” tribal image. BTDT. Then I noticed the serrated light falling on the face of one of men. I balanced my camera on my knees, framed him on the right side, waited for the right moment, took a deep breath and let it out, then ripped off five frames. (Even at ISO 1600 with a 28mm f/1.8 lens I was down to 1/5 sec at f/1.8). As I hoped, the middle frame was sharp. And the punctuation of the light makes the image. Zing!!
© nevada wier 2009 India. Nagaland State. Longwa Village.
DETAIL OF FACE
Here is another example from an older image taken in Ladakh, India. I don’t know how long the shutter speed was (film days) but it was long enough to “ghost” out the image of the head monk crossing the room (no, it is not a curtain). I was on a tripod (no way to hand hold an image like this one) using Kodachrome 200. The punctuation is in the face peering through the ghosting, it is the only frame that worked.
© nevada wier Ladakh, India. Rizong Monastery.
DETAIL, IN GHOSTING, OF A PILGRIM’S FACE