Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Rule Of Thirds

I think the "Rule of Thirds" ought to be called the "Guideline Of Thirds".  It is certainly a good 'rule' to keep in mind and most often gives very pleasing results.  But to call it a rule implies that nothing good will ever come from breaking it.  A guideline is, well, a guideline.  Something to be considered and used when appropriate, which is not always. 

The "Rule of Thirds" says that the strip of land at the bottom of this image should take up the entire bottom third of the photograph. But when making the photo (this was one from my trip to the Palouse last spring), I found myself thinking about what the image was really about.  It was really about the sky.  So I made it about the sky and left only a thin strip of land at the bottom in order to 'ground' the photo.  Rule broken.  For the better in this case, at least I think so!


Palouse Sunset


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Geometry II

A few months back, I posted a photo which I had made because of its dependence on simple lines and shapes as well as simple tonal contrasts.  In short, I was drawn to the fact that the image seemed to rely solely on geometry.  In the back of my mind, I have had the idea to do a series of these types of photographs.  In fact, some of the images are already taken and just waiting to be processed.

This image represents the second one in my "Geometry" series.  Well, I guess if there are two then that definitely makes it is a series!  I will be interested to see how many of these I get that seem to 'work' for me.


Grain Elevator


Copyright Howard Grill

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The Palouse In Spring

There seem to be two prime times to visit the Palouse in Eastern Washington / Western Idaho. The first is around June, when the various crops are in their early stages, with patchworks of abstract greens and browns (from areas being allowed to lay fallow), and the second is in August, when the harvest occurs.

One of the bonuses of visiting in the spring is the possibility of finding bright yellow fields of canola in bloom.  Why do I say 'possibility'? The first reason is that there are not all that many canola fields and the second is that the canola flowers don't bloom for very long.

Well, sometimes you're lucky and sometimes you are just with the right people who know where to look (like John Barclay and Dan Sniffin).  We ended up finding several fields of canola during the workshop I attended in the Palouse, of which this was one.

I decided to break the usual photographic compositional rules here and allow the frame to be divided exactly in half.  Sometimes it works and the rules should be broken.  It seemed to work in this image, at least for me! I don't think it would have were it not for the clouds, which further subdivided the blue portion of the image.

Palouse Patchwork

Back to my recent trip to the Palouse...... Photographing in the Palouse was pure joy because there was a photo to be made almost anywhere you looked and in almost any light.  Because there were different crops being grown side by side, and because the different crops had different shades of green and different rates of growth, the landscape was just a patchwork of color that took on an abstract feel.

I have always enjoyed photos where a small detail is important or helps to define the image. In this image I feel that the tree, even though it is quite small in the photograph, plays an important role in 'grounding' and orienting the image to the viewer.

"Palouse Patchwork"

Rolling Hills Of The Palouse

As I mentioned in my last two posts, I recently returned from a superb workshop in the Palouse region run by John Barclay and Dan Sniffin.  The workshop started with a visit to a location meant to orient us to how to see and photograph what is so characteristic of the area.....rolling hills that seem to go on forever.  The best way to portray them, at least in this particular area which did not have barns or grain elevators (and, yes, we visited many areas that did have both and that added another dimension to the photos), was as abstract images using a long lens.  The long lens (in this case a 400 mm f5.6) was able to isolate interesting areas of the landscape while also 'compressing' the distance between the hills. As you can see from the crop, even a 400 was barely long enough on my full frame camera.  So if you visit, bring the longest lens you have and/or a body with a crop factor that uses less than a full frame sensor.

The rolling hills of the Palouse form an abstract image.

Rolling Hills

Ansel Was Here...Probably...Maybe

One of the many nice things about going on a workshop run by people devoted to teaching and ensuring a great experience is that they have plans 'up their sleeve' about where to go in order to get good shots in any weather condition.  So when the weather was less than optimal, in this case bright sunshine, blue sky, and no clouds.......John and Dan took us out to two superb 'old car graveyards'. I don't necessarily present the image below as 'fine art', but I do present it because of its very interesting history.  Does it look familiar to anyone?  How about that roof rack?

Well, this car supposedly belonged to Ansel Adams and that is his signature roof rack.  Now I don't say supposedly in an idle, matter of fact way.  Once again, supposedly, the vehicle VIN numbers have been matched to the car he owned in order to make the ID. Apparently, the front of the car had been replaced at some point so the license plate may not be helpful. Is it true?  Who knows (well, maybe somebody does) and in reality he left us so much that it really is a triviality as to whether this is truly the car he photographed from or not.

Still, the idea of him standing up there in Yosemite.........