Some months back when Chris asked me to write a NWPG blog post on photography my initial reaction was "Seriously? Take a look at the work you see each month in Cross Country. I think you're asking the wrong guy." But he's a persistent fellow, and so I committed to the assignment. The question then became, how do I approach this?
What I didn't want to do is browse through 12,000-plus images in my database (yes, yes, I am entirely inconsistent in editing metadata as I add photos) finding the couple dozen that might make me look like I know what I am doing. So plan B became, "Quickly skim my catalog, instinctively pick those that speak to you in some way and then retrospectively try to figure out why."
Here are the results. No particular order and likely no definable logic. And very possibly no broad appeal...
Paragliding photography as:
We are aviators, I suppose, and there is a plethora of aviation metaphors one might seek in capturing images. This ITV Saphir (circa 1990) was, at the time, believed to be one of the few wings capable of leaving a contrail. BTW, I still have this glider and fly it on New Year's Eve.
Curious that when we take paragliding images we tend to focus on the glider. But very often there is something far more interesting going on when you look for the human underneath the glider.
I really like these images. Perhaps gives you some insight into my sensibilities - for better or worse.
Go back and look at the last couple year's of cover photos of Cross Country. For me what makes these images stunning is not the glider - it's what behind the glider. In essence, great paragliding photos are great landscape photos that just happen to have a paraglider in them. Often tiny, and in the corner.
Given that the sky is commonly the canvas upon which we paint, taking advantage of the H20 phase change can be rewarding.
If left to my own devices, I’d likely dress like this all the time:
Fortunately, my beautiful wife, Sarah, has volunteered to oversee my wardrobe. But on occasion I do have, I think, some sense of color. Blue sky, white clouds, black/yellow limestone? Capture a blue, white and black/yellow glider.
In the end, it’s why we fly, no?
Some shots just fall into your lap. Be ready for them.
Can be technically tricky, but rewarding.
Seeing a cedar forest from the hiking trail is an everyday experience. Seeing a cedar forest from the osprey’s viewpoint is entirely different.
…what you come home to...
Sure, gratuitously self-indulgent. Can’t help myself...
Take-aways? Here are mine:
1. Learn your camera. Auto-ISO can save many a shot - so can a tripod.
2. Learn from your photos. Why did this composition work but not that one?
3. Beware of the ruts. 95% of paragliding photos are essentially the same shot. Try something different.
4. Learn the software (I use Lightroom). No one - at least no one I know - captures an image that is not vastly improved with post-processing.
5. Finally, it’s not about the glider. It’s about the people and the places we cherish.