The Value of Exploration

Sometimes you need to throw logic out the window and just explore.  No agenda, no timeline, no shot plan – just GO.

It’s very common to see the typical iconic photographs taken in the National Parks in both the U.S. and Canada.  They are accessible (mostly), and depending on the weather, afford both the professional and the amateur good possibilities for making great images.  Because there are so many great images of these locations, it really takes something special to have an image stand out at locations like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, and others.

Purple and blue light colors the sky over the Moulton barn in Grand Teton National Park. (Benjamin Chase)When you explore a location without a preconceived idea in your skull, you approach it with an open mind, not training your eyes to look for something in particular, but something more primal, something that stimulates the creative part of your brain.

I’m a planner by nature.  It comes from my network engineering background.  I love to plan every HOUR of a photo expedition to maximize what I capture.  I use Google Earth to plot where the sun & moon will be on a given day and their angle relative to what I want to photograph.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you want to have an idea of where the light will be at a given time to know where to be positioned.  However, this sort of planning I have found lately to be a crutch.  I’m less likely to try things that are more difficult or are less likely to be successful.

A man searches the red skies with a headlamp along the shore of Ebey Landing, Whidbey Island, Washington State. (Benjamin Chase)No more.  While I will continue to do some of the planning that always needs to happen on trips, I’m not going to have a pre-determined list of things I want to photograph unless it’s part of an assignment.  Say what you want about Steve Jobs – but one thing I think we can all learn from him is that being afraid to take risks isn’t a healthy thing when you are trying to be creative.

Safety and creativity are often enemies of each other and true adventure happens without planning.

Coming up next…  The results of my “no agenda” trip to Cascade County, Montana!


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