Fields of Gold
Do you remember the song “Fields of Gold” by Sting? It was written circa 1993, and his melodious voice has etched those lyrics in my mind forever. I haven’t thought of that song in a long time but when I drove into Yosemite last week, the lyrics came back to me and they haven’t left my mind since. If you look at the lyrics in the song, the gold Sting refers to are “fields of barley”. However, as I drove into Yosemite and saw the Sierra foothills carpeted in swaths of gold poppies, the song took on a whole new meaning for me. The sight of foothills covered in red and gold poppies is stunning. As a photographer, one of my constant struggles is to convey to others the beauty of what I see. However, even with all the amazing technological resources at our disposal today, it is still very difficult for me to convey everything I saw and experienced irrespective of the photographs I produce. You see, the camera “sees” in two dimensions. Sure, we can increase our depth of field by altering our aperture, which will give the illusion of depth. We also can get low and change our perspective, but the camera will never truly capture our full experience. As humans, we have a much greater advantage over “the machines”, at least for the time being. We have depth perception, we have olfactory glands that help us take in the aromas of nature, we can feel the wind on our face, the warmth of the sun and in aggregate this gives us a fulfilling emotional experience that can never be conveyed via a photograph. So, while I am passionate about photography, I am equally if not more passionate about being in nature itself. The actual experience of being in nature surpasses even the joy of the photography. However, when I look back upon old photographs, it helps remind me of the experience and emotions I experienced during the process.
“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I do not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear;” ~Henry David Thoreau
One of the objectives of a workshop is to hone your skills as a photographer. However, an equally important by-product is to travel to a new venue, meet new people from different walks of life, experience a new way of thinking, to learn to look at things from a different perspective, to meet new people who may turn into life long friends, and to experience all the wonderful sensations nature has to offer. If you can come with an open mind and are willing to challenge yourself and learn new things; you will leave with some wonderful photographs as well as an experience you will never forget. Come join me next year on a workshop to experience and photograph the beautiful poppies of California.
Stay tuned for my next blog, which will be entitled “From a Galaxy Far, Far Away”
In the near future, I am going to be writing some technical articles on photography. However, in the interim, here is a quick photo tip. To photograph poppies up close, you will probably want to use a macro lens. However, if you get too close to the flower to fill your lens frame, your lens will no longer be able to achieve focus. To solve this problem, you can use extension tubes. Extension tubes, will allow you to change the focal length of your lens by increasing the distance from your lens to your camera sensor. In essence, it will enable you to get closer to your subject and still maintain a useable focus. I will explain this in further detail in an upcoming technical article.
PS. The drive back through Big Sur was pretty amazing also.