Featured in On Landscape Magazine

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It’s an honor to be featured in what I believe is the best online landscape photography magazine today. On Landscape is a British subscription-based magazine  with most of its content focused on works and artists from across the pond.

My sincere THANKS to On Landscape for the feature and to Michéla Griffith for a thoughtful interview!

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on Facebook.

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Meditative Distillations

I’m happy to announce that I am featured in the March 2011 issue of Rangefinder magazine! Contributing editor Martha Blanchfield has written a great article about me and my work, and the editors have made a nice selection of my images to accompany the article. Download this article for free!

Thanks for having a look!

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

Link: On the Art of Observing Gallery Viewers Observing Art

Andy Ilachinski (The Tao of Photography) has written an interesting and informative article on the behaviors of gallery visitors. A recommended read for those of you that hang work in and make visits to galleries.

“A small minority (about 5-10%) appear interested only in the fact that there is a human being in the gallery with whom they can speak about photography, rather than the photographs themselves.”

Thanks for your interesting article, Andy!

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

Broughton Quarterly

Broughton QuarterlyIt’s a real honor to have not only a cover photograph, but also a well-written interview by Matt Katz in the Winter 2007 issue of Broughton Quarterly (a seasonal travel magazine published by Broughton Hospitality). The article focuses on my black & white photography of the California desert, and also features several additional photographs.

You can find the issue and article HERE.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

The Maximum D.O.F. (Depth of Field) Myth of Landscape Photography

There exists amongst many landscape photographers a notion that all landscape photographs must be razor sharp near to far – f64 and be there (not!). Unfortunately, this one-size-fits-all approach to landscape photography quite often increases the visual complexity (busy-ness) of an image and creates visual competition amongst its elements. Most importantly, displaying everything in the frame in brilliant sharpness leaves very little to the viewer’s imagination.

Razor sharpness throughout the entire frame of a landscape/nature photograph often runs counter-effect to the photographer’s intention. When attempting to depict the vastness of the scene before the camera, employing maximum Depth of Field (DOF) ironically often destroys the very depth depth that the photographer seeks to create. This is a particularly egregious habit of view camera users (i.e., users of large format sheet film cameras), many of whom feel that since camera movements afford precise control of focus, the image should employ maximum DOF and be in precise focus throughout.

Let’s take a look at a photograph I made in September 2007 in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah (click to enlarge):
Amongst the Maples, f11
This photograph was made with a 4×5″ view camera with a 120mm lens, and my focus was placed somewhere on the tree limbs. I restricted the aperture to about f11 to focus the viewer’s attention on the elements that grabbed my attention. The radiating form of the tree limbs and mixed splashes of color and light sucked me right in. As Guy Tal and I discuss in all our workshops, the elements that draw you to photograph something are the elements that you should seek to emphasize, while all other elements in the scene should be diminished or absent. This is a basic and solid theory of composition, and it magically works every time. In the brilliant words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “a designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

When I first began showing this photograph, non-photographers reacted very favorably towards it, whereas many photographers made comments about the shallow DOF/lack of sharp focus throughout. Naturally, I was humored by the latter comments, as the shallow DOF was intentional – not the result of an unfortunate error!

Now let’s take a look at a second but nearly identical photograph – same everything but aperture. For this exposure the aperture was f32 (or possibly f45) (click to enlarge):
Amongst the Maples, f32
With greater DOF, the background elements become more distracting, and the splash of light in the background becomes more glaring. Not only does greater DOF ruin my impression of the scene, it makes for greater visual clutter. Not something I strive for in a photograph.

When I am attracted to photograph something, I analyze the elements and ask questions: What is it that drew me over here to make this photograph? What are the important elements here? What is it that I want to emphasize? When I have answered these questions, where I place my tripod and camera, where I focus, and what aperture I use are essentially answered for me. I don’t blindly apply maximum DOF rules just because my equipment is capable nor because that’s what is instructed by the how-to guides of landscape and nature photography. In image-making, the primary goal for any photographer should be to do what best serves the subject matter. A one-size-fits-all approach to DOF in landscape photography rarely does that.

What do you think?

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.