Friday, July 22, 2011

Self portraits....sort of

In the July 2011 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine Jerry Kobalenko wrote about how he uses himself as a "model" when he needs to add some life or scale to a nature image and he's the only one around. It made me think about how many times I've done the same thing.

I often visit South Dakota's state and national parks at times of the year or day when I'm the only person in the area. Adding a human element can make pictures of these places feel more accessible and inviting. So what's a photographer to do? Find a way!

Sometimes it's simply placing people into the shot like my son Cody and I in Badlands National Park.

At this remote campground between Deerfield Lake and the ghost town of Moon, I "borrowed" some one's camping equipment as props. Yes, someone had left their campsite unattended and I picked up that lantern and sat it back down a few times to get a good shot. Like a good nature shooter, all I took away was photographs.

One autumn evening at Big Sioux Rec Area near Brandon I couldn't find an unsuspecting hiker. So I set up my tripod, tripped the self-timer on the camera and sprinted. I'm very small in the shot, but I think it adds an element that the scene just needed.

Other times the image only needs a part of a human to give it life. Hikers mainly use their feet, so why not show those?

At Newton Hills State Park I needed a car driving through the scene, but none were to be seen. So I stacked a jacket and hat up in my vehicle and parked it where I shouldn't have. Luckily the lack of traffic continued, so I got the shot and no one has recognized that there's actually not a driver behind the wheel of the van.

Lastly, just the suggestion of a human form is sometimes enough to create a nice feel in a scene. A camera on a tripod at Palisades State Park says someone is there enjoying the outdoors.

Don't be afraid to try a bit of self-portraiture next time you are out in the woods!


The Davis Family said...

Thank you for the great ideas! I'm always trying to make my photos seems more adventurous and alive and I can't wait to try these out!

Chad Coppess said...

Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who likes my ideas. LOL