This post originally started as the ranting of an old man until I realized that I have ranted about originality and creativity too many times and that I shouldn’t get worked up when I see another copycat photo of Tangle Ridge or Abraham Lake here in Alberta.
Instead I will try, yes, TRY to lend a positive tone to this post.
I love photographing landscapes for so many different reasons. Whether I am in the mountains of Jasper and Banff or minutes away from home in my own back yard, the prairies of central Alberta, being outdoors gives does my soul good.
When I was younger and just getting into landscapes I would make the four hour drive every weekend in my 1969 Ford Econoline camper van. The drive wasn’t as relaxing then as it now is with a wide open four lane highway from Edmonton to the outskirts of Hinton. Back in the 1970’s a lot, most of the highway was a twisting sinuous two lane terror that claimed many lives due to the carelessness of those who just had to pass when it wasn’t safe. Still, I made the drive.
Even in the seventies when I was working on a book project about the Canadian rockies something inside me wanted to seek out that which was seldom seen or photographed. So I hiked a lot. I went into the deep back country of the park heavy pack on my shoulders with a serious tripod and large format camera. It was hard physical work but I loved it.
Every Monday morning back at work my body ached from walking too far with a too heavy pack in search of new and different landscapes.
Oh yeah, I got sidetracked. LOL
Photographing landscapes does so much for me today like it did forty years ago. I love the solitude. I love the peace and quiet. To get away from the routine of daily things even if only for a few hours is like going on a long holiday. It recharges the batteries.
I have always been a daydreamer. The margins of my school books were full of doodles and drawings and when out with a camera when I see the landscape my imagination is in full gear imagining this location or that. Wondering how this place would look under a different light. Imaging how this scene would look with a wide lens or a long exposure.
I might be quiet when outdoors but that imagination is going one thousand miles an hour.
Using your imagination is like playing the lottery. You try and you try and you try and always in the back of your mind is the payoff. The great photo. The photo that hasn’t been taken before or at least a photo that I haven’t seen before because very little of this world has not been photographed.
The photo at the top of this post is one of those places in Jasper that people drive by every day by the thousands but I have yet to see any photos of it on the internet and this photo is probably ten years old.
It’s kind of like Tangle Ridge in Jasper. For years I wondered why such a beautiful place was always photographed showing Mount Kitchener and Beauty Creek. That was the standard photo of the place but three or four years ago something happened.
A very well known American photographer actually stepped off the highway and into the deep snow and took a great photo of Tangle Peak, slightly to the east of Kitchener and three years later it seems that I see nothing but photos of Tangle Peak taken from close to where the original photo was taken.
Where is the joy in that? Where is the solitude of wilderness or landscape photography when you arrive only to find a small crowd of like minded photographers there?
For some I suppose, that is their joy, their goal, to copy what they saw on the internet. Goal accomplished but isn’t something that is called an art form more than simply copying something? I guess not and there is nothing wrong with that if that is your thing but the goal or one of the goals of this blog is to inspire creativity.
You see the act of creating something that I haven’t seen before gives me a special joy. Unless you are a creative person you might not get it. Maybe it’s like the gambler looking for the next jackpot or the drug user who is looking for his next high?
Whatever it is, it is special and it keeps me returning to the land. It keeps me looking for the next “new” place to see and interpret in my own way. It might look like crap to someone else but creativity is not about pleasing someone else. It is about reaching inside your soul and pulling something out that you never knew existed.