Inspirations – Michael James

© Michael James

Nikon D700 with Nikon 16-35mm f4.0 lens
7 shots at 19mm f/11 ISO 200

My favourite images are always the ones that have a story or surprise inside of them – this one has both. I’d driven by this old homestead many times on my way to visit my family in Camrose, Alberta. It was a good subject for many of the old run-down houses I love to shoot so I figured I needed to visit sometime to take it’s picture. Throughout the summer, I would drive by and each time say, “I need to get back here!” but had not returned.

Finally, in December of 2010, a friend and fellow photographer wanted to head out to get some shots outside of Edmonton and this place jumped to mind. I was going to wait until spring, but there hadn’t been much snow (yet) and I thought it would be a great subject. We drove out expecting to photograph it at sunset and get some warm light on the front – as luck would have it, it became overcast right when the light was starting to warm up.

Remember the words of many photographers before me, I kept shooting. Even if the light isn’t cooperating, always keep shooting – there’s a reason this place spoke to me and I needed to find it. I noticed many compositions had a ton of variations in contrast so I decided to use high dynamic range imaging to tame the contrast in post-production. I mean, who really cares if I have 7 times the images – it’s digital and I can always just take the one I like best and trash the rest if HDR isn’t needed. So we explored the area and both thought we might have one or two keepers, but decided we needed to visit this place in the spring or summer for some better opportunities. I was wrong. Little did I know that I had taken one of my most favourite photos.

When I got home, I started processing the images – this one was the second of two similar compositions that really spoke to me. I was amazed at the textures the HDR technique brought out and how well they translated into black and white. Whenever you have one of those shots that just doesn’t work in colour, always try it in black and white – especially if it has a lot of texture. The textures in the wood and sky just made this image pop! Many people tell me that it looks like a painting – I never really knew how to take that comment, but I think I’ve decided it’s a positive thing – I mean, it’s a comment that, for some, moves your work from a picture to a piece of art. ~ Michael James


6 Responses to “Inspirations – Michael James”

  1. Always been a fan of Michael’s work.

  2. Very nice! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Stunning work! It’s a good think you followed your instinct. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Mike Ferron Says:

    Like that shot. Folks do be careful when photographing such properties. I found a similar homestead in rural Maine and also considered it a photographic gem. I made several visits and on my third was shocked to find someone was still living there. :0

  5. Fantastic photograph. All the elements really came together for you on this one.

  6. Great shot, there are some scenes that really lend themselves to black and white.

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