"When I photograph, I like to do two things. I like each individual image to stand-alone and draw in the viewer, as well as become part of a larger tale, moving towards telling a story that perhaps goes on for a longer time frame, one that evolves over months or years. I think that's how I improve. Each time I visit the same location I try to see it differently. Familiarity can and sometimes does breed contempt with me when it comes to a location but I find that I ultimately do my best work the more times I visit a location.
"Once I've photographed a location enough times that I find myself going, 'Ugh, why am I here!?' that's when I know I can really buckle down and find the best compositions because I know I'm no longer overwhelmed by that spot. For me, one spot that comes to mind is the Sundial Bridge, perhaps the most iconic location for photography and tourism in Redding, California where I live.
I can remember when that bridge was nothing more than a drawing in the local newspaper. I'm an outdoor photographer, so I really tried to avoid ever photographing it. I wasn't a huge fan of the shape, the location, the popularity, or really anything with this location…but people always asked me, 'Do you have any pictures of the Sundial Bridge?' I would have to answer, "No," and that would make me dislike the bridge more because I would be mad that the person asking wasn't more interested in one of my other landscape photographs.
Eventually, five years ago, I started photographing the bridge. I was reluctant at first, and I only photographed it when there were no other options, or time was very limited, but the longer I shoot it, the more I find I enjoy it…and am challenged by it. I want to find all of the angles, see the bridge in every condition, and in a way, I want to be the best photographer of the bridge that exists.
What you see here are three different photos of the bridge taken in the past few months. All of my shots are taken on a tripod to allow me to get necessary exposure lengths to achieve the desired effect. I use a variety of Singh-Ray filters to make sure I get the right exposure. Graduated Neutral Density, and Polarizing filters are the two primary filters I use. Because I'm always looking for a high depth of field in my images all of these shots were taken at f18 to get maximum sharpness, and also allow me the ability to get longer exposures and blur the water.
The image in the snow I find particularly rewarding as snow isn't something we see a lot of here in Redding, and this shot has been on my photographic 'bucket list' for several years, and when I finally got the perfect chance this past December, I was ecstatic and felt like all of my effort and determination to really work this bridge finally paid off. The other two images were taken down river in the rocks that are revealed when water levels are lower. The drought we're having in Northern California has been terrible for a lot of different reasons, but photographing the bridge isn't one of them. There are far more interesting shapes now for foreground than during high water marks.
The final shot is a shot I took under the bridge looking up. I was fond of the light, and shapes…and having the familiarity with the subject, I'm to the point where I'm trying any and all options in search of new creative ways to see.
If there's a point to all of this, I think that it is this; anything can provide inspiration and valuable subject matter if you just give it enough time."