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My Very Own

The recent winds in the Bow Valley have stripped most trees of this year’s exceptionally colourful Fall leaves. It is easy to think that Mother Nature’s Fall colour show is over. However, when I went for a walk in Nose Hill Park in Calgary this past week, I saw this delightful scene relatively close to home. I was attracted by the contrast of colours—red, yellow, and blue. Once I composed the image, made the photograph, and completed my post processing, this became my own personal-expressive-fine-art photograph.

Fall's Finishing Colour ©Jack Blair

No one else will be able to make this image, because, the moment after I captured it, the scene was constantly changing as more leaves were blown off the trees and the red bushes. Can the concept be repeated by others? Certainly, but no one will ever exactly repeat the resulting printed photograph of this scene that I created. This image is My Very Own.


Here is a little story that might help to explain what I mean by personal-expressive-fine-art photography.

The image below is of a small section on an open cliff face in Zion Canyon National Park.

We were driving through Zion Park when this scene caught my attention.

Rock Wall Detail-Zion National Park ©Jack Blair

I got out my camera and necessary accessories, setup, and composed this image. Initially, I didn’t like the harsh light as it created too many dark shadows, so I sat by the side of the road with my camera was beside me on a tripod and waited until clouds moved to soften the light. What amused me was the number of cars that pulled off and parked on the verge close by, so the occupants could see what I was doing. In each case, the occupants sat in their cars for a minute or so, then got out, cameras in hand, scanned the area to see what I was taking a photograph of, then got back into their car and drove away. I think they presumed there was an animal somewhere in my sights, but when they saw nothing, they left. Not one person approached me to see what I was photographing.

There you go… image of a place in Zion was personally expressive, but only to me, it seems. The scene in front of me was aesthetically pleasing, but I had also pre-visualised what a large print of the small scene would look like on my wall at home.

Are there other images of Zion that are more unique yet familiar? Yes. There are books sold that explain the exact location where famous scenes can be photographed, along with the best camera settings to use. At best, the person using such a book will make a well exposed and perfectly focussed image of an iconic location; however, there will be very little unique about it and even though they may think it is their very own image, nobody else will.

Here is an example of a collection of photographers at an iconic place for photography—the Antelope Slot Canyon in Arizona.

What a change from when photographer Bruce Barnbaum used to explore the canyons in 1980, on his own, with his black and white film plate camera. Bruce’s published photographs are spectacular and were paramount in creating, then and now, a flood of photographers and tourists to the Antelope Slot Canyons.

I hope this essay will help explain what I think personal-expressive-fine-art is and why I chose to work in that genre. For me, there’ll be no group gatherings of photographers at a special location, nor will I travel far and long just to capture an image. I’ll continue to roam the familiar, usually closer to home, and not be concerned that I’m only photographing for my own satisfaction. My finished photographs, whether viewed on a screen or in print, will always be My Very Own.

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Oct 26, 2022

This is great, Dad. I think it expresses well my own approach to my photography as well. I'm not really interested in following armies of other photographers...

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