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  • Writer's pictureDon Toothaker

Abstracts and Action

While exploring for worthy photographic subjects we often stop ourselves at nouns: a barn, a tree, a truck, a person, a river. We need to learn to see beyond that. What we do as photographers is deeply personal so, we must create images that depict a greater sense of intimacy. During workshops I challenge attendees to instead focus on the adjectives that define the nouns: strong, big, delicate, weathered, flowing. Your greater creative voice will be found creating images that define something; not document something. Dig deep.

The Penobscot River, all 109 miles of it, is one of Maine's most dramatic rivers. With the inclusion of the West and South Branches it is almost 300 miles long and the second largest river system in Maine. Summarily, it is an enormous system of moving water, rocky outcrops, and wildness. So, as a photographer, how do you photograph such a huge, expansive subject? The easy answer is that you return to it several times, in various places, and capture as many scenes as possible. But, what if several visits were not possible and you had but one opportunity to create images of the mighty Penobscot as you see and feel it. Last week while visiting Baxter State Park and areas along the Golden Road our workshop group was challenged with doing just that.

Our destination one morning was a popular gorge off the Golden Road and just below the Ripogenus Dam. Here the river flows powerfully through a narrow channel and over scores of rocks of various shapes and sizes. It is impressive and imposing. The assignment for the group was to look INTO the scene and to create images that were both abstract and action filled. What was intended to be a couple hours of exploratory work turned into almost a full day of fun and meaningful creativity. I am very proud of the group for taking the assignment to heart, creating some very beautiful images, and exploring more of their own creativity. I too enjoyed exploring the Penobscot River from a different perspective on this beautiful fall day. Yes, whenever possible dig deep; dig very deep.

Photograph What You Feel

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