STUART L GORDON PHOTOGRAPHY
My goal as an artist is to create photographs that express my vision of the world, as well as my values and convictions. For me, Fine Art Landscape Photography is about being a participant, rather than merely an observer, in a singular and unrepeatable moment when light, weather, location and subject combine to produce an extraordinary scene.
First and foremost, I am seeking extraordinary light in my photography. Most often that means the light of sunset and sunrise, as well as before and after storms. Once I have the light, I look for an appropriate subject that is illuminated by that light. I photograph in natural light, only resorting to flash on rare occasions when I need to illuminate a foreground subject in deep shadow. I find that it is the light on the landscape that first and foremost will evoke an emotional response in the viewer to an image.
I became involved in photography in 2009, and since then I have constantly been refining and improving every aspect of my work, from the camera to post-processing images to the final print, in order to produce the highest quality image possible.
I am drawn to photograph the small details in the landscape as much as grand vistas. Merely recording those scenes with my camera is not satisfying enough, however. My goal is to share with the viewer my deepest emotional response to the scene. I become a translator, or interpreter, rather than merely a documenter of reality. I become an artist. My goal is to create images that capture the poetic moments of my life with such passion that the viewer feels the thrill and joy I felt at the moment I pressed the shutter and is moved the same way I was moved. Through my choice of lens, perspective and subject, my goal is to make the viewer feel that if he took one more step, he would enter the image and be standing there next to me.
I photograph with a Canon 5D Mark II with a full-frame sensor. My primary lenses are a 16-35 mm ultra wide, a 24-105 mm zoom, a 70-200 mm zoom and a 100-400 mm zoom. I also occassionally use a 100 mm macro lens for close-ups of smaller objects in the landscape. My camera is always hitched to a tripod to achieve tack sharp images.
I prefer to capture images of landscapes that are not overrun with crowds, including other photographers. Occasionally, I have photographed iconic locations, such as Maroon Bells in Colorado, Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park and Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. But for the most part, I obtain my images by hiking on wilderness trails or driving forest roads to find scenes that are seldom if ever photographed.
Often I will use appropriate filters to bring high contrast images into the range of my camera or to blur waterfalls and rivers to a visually appealing silky flow. Although many of my images are single exposures, I often combine multiple exposures of a single scene to balance the brightness of a sky with the darker terrain. In some cases, this is the only possible way to capture a scene the way my eyes saw it. The camera is just not capable of capturing as wide a dynamic range as human vision. While I continue to experiment with High Dynamic Range software, I often find the results unnatural. I prefer to manually combine exposures in Photoshop to tame the dynamic range of a scene. I’ll also use software to stitch images into sweeping panoramic vistas that cannot be captured in a single exposure without a special panoramic format camera. I keep abreast of the latest post-processing software available and always shoot in “raw” format because it results the in the highest quality image.
While much of my photography is focused on the Pacific Northwest, which had been my home since 2002, I travel extensively in pursuit of photogenic landscapes that inspire and evoke reverence and inspiration. Some of my finest and most popular images are of the Big Sur coast of California; the aspen forests of Colorado in peak autumn color; the red rock formations of Sedona, Arizona; the coastal redwoods of Redwood National Park, California; and the Eastern Sierra Nevada.
I draw inspiration from the work of master contemporary photographers Galen Rowell, Art Wolfe, William Neill and Michael Kenna, as well as photographers of the past, such as Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock and Paul Strand. I am also inspired by the work of landscape painters of the past, particularly John Constable, J.M.W. Turner and Albert Bierstadt.
I am a self-taught photographer who reads avidly about the technical, aesthetic and historical aspects of photography. My primary source of education has been by experience in the field with camera and lenses under all sorts of shooting conditions. I have attended seminars and workshops offered by some of the master photographers mentioned above. I create my own prints — up to 17 by 22 inches — on an Epson 3880 inkjet printer, which produces gallery quality results with archival inks on the finest luster and matte papers. I use high-quality online labs to produce larger format prints.
In post-production, my workflow is tailored to producing the finest quality image with the highest degree of detail in highlights and shadows. I adjust color and tonal quality in Camera Raw or Photoshop to reflect my best recollection or impression of the scene. Any other image manipulation I do is always in the service of creating an image that satisfies my artistic vision and overcomes the technical limitations of the camera.
- December 2012, image titled "Sunset Light on McWay Falls" was selected one of several winners in a juried photography contest sponsored by Chasing The Light Photography. Click here to see the winners:
- July 2013 my image "First Snow" won Honorable Mention in a worldwide photo contest sponsored by Shutterlove and judged by celebrated nature photographer Art Wolfe. You can see this image and other contest winners at: