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In the Douglas Kirkland on Photography series, well-known photographer Douglas Kirkland explores a variety of real-world photographic scenarios, sharing technical insights and critiquing the results.
In this installment, Douglas discusses the importance of developing a sense of photographic vision: keeping your mind and eye open for photographic opportunities, and maximizing those opportunities through composition and other creative decisions. The course begins with Douglas reviewing images from his personal collection. He discusses the importance of observation and exploration for a photographer, how to see art in everyday situations, and why one should always have a camera nearby.
Douglas then goes on location to shoot in and around Korakia Pensione, a resort in Palm Springs, California. He explains his creative and technical decisions as he shoots, and describes how natural lines created by architecture and light can help make an effective photograph. The course continues on a hike through a Palm Springs canyon, where Douglas captures images in the field, working with moving water, highly textured rock faces, and even some local wildlife. Finally, Douglas wanders through downtown Palm Springs armed with a simple point-and-shoot camera, proving that with vision and an open mind, great images can be made with simplest equipment.
Download a free companion guide to Douglas Kirkland on Photography: A Photographer's Eye from the Exercise Files tab. The guide contains photos, detailed camera-setting information from the shoots in this course, and more tips from Douglas on improving composition and maximizing available natural light.
(music playing) (water trickling) Here we are, today, at Palm Springs, and this is just a couple of hours out of Los Angeles, and I wanted to show you the place we are familiar with. This is the Korakia Resort. We've come here many times. And what I am going to do today, what I'd like to do with you, is show you how I am going to do my personal story on this place. I am going to start taking pictures really right outside here.
The first image I see is the beauty of the mountains, the wonderful flowers, the palm trees. What we need to do--and I have worked a lot in photojournalism, and frankly what they often say--which is certainly valid here today, as always--is, you must have a good beginning. This is it. This tell you where you are, shows you the background, and then you need a middle and then an end. I'm looking and I am checking everything out. Oh.
Now I see something that I really like right here. I immediately see that I can get from here, within arm's reach, to the mountain over there, a mile and a half or so away. So let me just look through here. There we go! Okay, one picture. Now, the vertical. This is the excitement of working with different pieces of equipment. As I look straight up here, I am seeing this and that. I've got this palm tree back here, and then I can get the sun in the picture as well.
Now that gets me really excited. This, ladies and gentleman, is the coolest picture we have taken today. That's what this glorious resort is all about. Sunshine, flowers, and there's so much you will enjoy. This allows you to tell your story. Let's go and look at some more. Oh, now we are getting here, something. I know I'm seeing an image. Numerous things to look at. First thing I am going to do is just look at this piece and then I say to myself, which is the best background? Don't just assume that where you happen to pick your camera up is the best background.
Now what is really excited here, ladies and gentlemen, is I can see light through this piece, and that is very, very special. Here I see a very beautiful instrument here, and I see Palm Springs Life. Now what I want to first do is come just down on the instrument. I am coming in close. I want to get the form, the shape.
Now, what am I doing? I'm taking some of that too-strong light off, but you know, what I did is, this is spontaneous. I've closed the door a little bit. Now we have sparkles of light. Use the light where you find it. And I want to just also mention, when you see something like this, get the picture, because in fifteen or twenty minutes it probably won't look that way. So that's part of the key. So there are more pictures, more places to look, and I'd like to take a look at this doorway right here, because I noticed when we came in that it looked very interesting, because there's a whole other piece of Korakia here, this weathered wood, this glorious form like a spear, and of course the window.
There is the image I just did, and there's just so much. You look, you find, you come in close, but you also get the broader shot. Let's go and find a broader shot. There's just another little patio here I would like to step into. Now, what I'm seeing here is I love these windows. Look at that! That is magnificent architecture. And again, part of the fantasy, similar to what we were just talking about, we have a hammock. Now, how can you not fall in love with the hammock? So the first image I would like to do is come in here. And I will look through the camera, adjust the exposure a little, because I want to get it right. And I want to get a little of the hammock in the foreground and shoot past it.
I will do a vertical, because it works best, because I get some of the balcony up there and the architecture there. So what we are really doing here is we are looking at the place to tell the story, the story of why I find it beautiful, what it represents to me, what Korakia is. Now there's one element I saw here, and this is the Kasbah. That makes it sound so exotic, doesn't it? But here, just look at this. And it's got sort of the European or North African looking sign there.
It looks weathered. That looks cool! That looks very wonderful. And that really is going to help you tell your story. Now why, you might ask, does taking a picture of a sign help tell the story? Frankly, sometimes it's the details that suggest so much. You tell a big story by being in on small things. This suggests the Kasbah. That suggests North Africa, and that suggests Morocco, and exotic worlds like this. And that's all part of what Korakia is. It's part of what your story is.
Let's go on take a look at other areas. Here we are at the Korakia pool, and what I would have asked to do is asked Francoise and wonderful Miranda to come in and be people that will be in the image, because I don't want to disturb the guests, but I want to have the feeling of guests. What we have here is that the pool is very important. You couldn't ignore the pool if you are photographing at the Korakia, and it's very beautiful pool.
We are doing different pictures here, but as a starter, I am going to do a picture that where we see vertical with lot of the building in the background. Beautiful, just pictures of people talking, and what you are going to see me do is coming in closer and closer, because that's where the images come from. And you will hear me keep talking a lot. What I am doing is I am keeping a buzz going so they keep the feeling, and they know that I am here, and it helps keep the energy of the picture going. Francoise, you look wonderful.
I love the way the light is sparkling in your eyes. Yes, yes, yes! This is good! You are good at this! Yes, yes, yes! Now Miranda, it's your turn. I'll have you just look around here to me. Yeah! Yes, yes! So here we are at the Korakia again. We are out in front where we started this morning, and here we are, as the evening comes in. The moon is up above us, and it's starting to get dark. And what we wanted to do is to help tell our story, show it at different times of day, because the character of the place changes enormously.
So I am looking at the gate that we saw earlier today. What we have here is the blueness of the evening light, but we also have the warmth of the tungsten lights inside. That's glorious. Look at the richness of these candles. And again, they are there from--I will get some sky in as well. Again, look at that! I see these beautiful trees, and I see some lights up there on the hill and over here as well.
It's magnificent! I am not including these lights at this point, but I am seeing the trees up against the sky. Isn't that wonderful? We started in the morning with a bright light, and we've spent a day here, watched and seen wonderful places, and a wonderful story, wonderful feeling. This is my story. It can be your story. You find your story too.
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