Hoosier Landscapes

Its easy to get excited for a trip to someplace different and new where the geography, culture or architecture promises plentiful opportunities for great photos.  Living in Indiana, we don't have the geographical features that other places have which often serve as the inspiration for great landscape images.  I live in a mostly flat state marked by an abundance of cornfields.  I have to travel, go to the mountains or some other such place to find subject matter for landscape photography.

Or that's what I used to think.

I remember the day in 2011 when that all changed.  I was reading on the internet that a photograph was sold that broke the previous record for price paid for a photograph.  $4.3 million.  That's a lot of Money.  I wondered about the details, did some one just buy a print?  If so what was to stop the photographer from creating a second print and selling it?  Would the first print then depreciate in value?  What in the world was the photograph of?  Questions abounded.  The name of the Photograph was Rhein II by Andreas Gursky.  I looked it up and saw the image.  (Click Here and you can too!)

I was a little dumbfounded and fascinated at the same time.  Part of the value of the photograph was its presentation - a huge print (6' by 12') mounted to acrylic (I love acrylic face mounted prints, BumbleJax is my favorite lab for this treatment).  The image itself is at least mildly controversial, as it is a study in minimalism that required digital manipulation to achieve its final form.

I don't know that I love the image, but that it inspired me is not in doubt.  I tend to look for detail, texture and/or simplicity in my image composition and Rhein II is an excellent example of texture and simplicity in composition.

Late the evening of December 27th, 2012 we had a winter storm.  The storm brought strong winds and about 8" of snow.  The next morning the winds died down and left a winter wonderland.  I got up grabbed my camera, bundled up and started walking the farm scouting for images.  As I traversed the back hay field, I noticed how the dead stalks of alfalfa poked up through the snow casting a golden hue across the field of white, while off in the distance in the woods behind, blowing snow from the night before stuck to all the tree trunks and limbs.  It was an intriguing contrast in textures.  Remembering the Rhein image I moved around the field until I found a part of the field that was as nearly as flat as could be.  I made use of the rule of thirds, the threshold between the competing textures would mark the bottom third of the image.

I took several other nice images that day, but I was most excited to work on that one first.  I made some contrast and exposure adjustments, a little additional saturation to bring out the golden hue and then some sharpening to emphasize the textures.  I had created one of my favorite images to date.

Turns out this image was the first of many that I have classified as my "Hoosier Landscapes" collection.  They all play on the flatness of the land and offset two (sometimes) three different textures.  Sometimes I convert to monochrome, sometimes color.  Sometimes drama in the sky does the work with a tremendous cloud or storm display.  Usually hand held, sometimes a tripod with an extended exposure.  The constant - embracing and celebrating the flatness of the land.  Of the images scrolling by below, all but one of them (the naturalized Black Eyed Susans) was taken either on the farm or within half a mile of it.

What this gallery had taught me is that similar to the old adage "great pictures have been taken with all types of cameras" Interesting landscapes can be taken without ever leaving home.