Canada: Exploring the Prairies
I don’t get to travel home very often. For me it is always a bittersweet moment, as you realize just how far and how long you’ve been away. You see your parents getting older and your friends moving on. It can be tough at times. However, it also gives you a different lens to shoot with, in some regards.
This trip home came after a few family struggles and my Grandmother passing away on my birthday last year. Suffice to say that I really wasn’t in the right mindset to go out and get some good shots. However, I did bring my camera with most places. It was when I stopped at seemingly “normal” places and really focussed on what those places were saying to me, that I started to rediscover my hometown.
What is the Scene Saying?
By this, I mean, “why did you stop and look there?” or “What is jumping out and capturing your attention?” when you look out at the scene. For me at home, I never really explored that area when I went home. I just occasionally looked for nice shots to take. With so much time since I had last been home, I did a lot of thinking. We had a whole week at my parents place and we could have stayed more. However, the mountains were calling.
We had the chance to explore some great spots just to have fun. The wildfires that were increasing in size in Western Canada, were also causing air quality problems across the entire country. Much like the last time I visited, the skies sadly were hazy and overcast for much of the time. I just had to work with the conditions that I had and make the best of it.
Interesting Over Exotic
Too often we think that have to travel to exotic locations to achieve great shots. However, your ability to make the everyday look amazing will set you apart from the rest of the photographers heading out to Iceland or wherever the next “it” place is. I had the same issue with Manitoba. I struggled to find the “interesting” in the “everyday” but thankfully I had my muse with me. My wife was in constant awe of the vast open fields and the nature that was seemingly everywhere. Keep in mind, that she grew up in Korea where you would be hard pressed to find such vast landscapes anywhere in the country.
So, I used her wonderlust to fuel my own. The fields, the the trees, the lakes, all became much more interesting. I kept thinking about “if I was a traveler, what would I find interesting?” and went from there. Soon I captured some shots that I was generally happy with. Ones that I can look at and sort of say “this is where I am from!” and have people interested in the scene.
The bottomline is that you have the ability to make any scene interesting. The trouble is to express that interestingness through your photo. Often, what we find interesting may not transfer so well into the visual medium. Thus, keep examining your shots and the scene in front of you to find what exactly is making you stop and look. Is it the sky? then drop that horizon down. Is it a road that cuts through the scene? Then centre the road and even get a little lower to the ground to emphasize the road. Once you start taking stock of what the scene is saying to you, you will see a noticeable difference in your images.
Stay tuned for the next installment when I travel to Whistler, BC!