My Personal Views and Ramblings on Photography
Photography has always had a magical appeal to me from a very early age. Even watching a Polaroid develop is exciting! I’m saddened for today's photographic generation. Most will never know the joy of shooting with an 8x10, 4x5, or even a medium format camera! Most will never know the joy of developing their own film or printing in their own darkroom. The old ways are very much a dying art and as digital has taken over, the traditional ways are something I miss very much.
I take great pride in my 4x5 photos of the last several years, because they were shot with a handmade camera! It was appropriately named the “Leman's View”. Many hours of hard work and love went into the planning and construction of this 4x5 view camera. Many of the shots posted were taken with this very camera! Taking a great shot is one thing, taking it with a camera you made with your own hands is a feeling I can’t articulate! I had plans to build another one and improve on it, but have since adapted solely to digital. I strongly feel that a properly exposed 4x5 and tight scan is still better than any digital camera on the market today! It still excites me to no end to loupe a 4x5 chrome on a light box and skim across it! In my opinion, an electronic darkroom will never hold the same magic as a traditional one!
I generally can find fault with even what I consider my very best shots. It takes a lot of patience and hard work to get good shots, let alone great ones! I aim to work much harder in the very near future. I have a great respect and admiration for those photographers I know personally, those whose sites I visit, and all that put in the necessary time to get the awe inspiring shots! I get a little self conscious when picking images for display. I worry if anyone else will like them or what people might think. Then I realize, these images are my moments in time, my inspirations, my visions. Some of these photographs can never be taken again because of change. Each photo truly is a moment in time.
I intend to grow as a photographer. I know I need to slow down, choose my shots more carefully, try to get more dramatic skys, lighting, composition, angles and all the other essentials that make for great images! I feel I have much self improvement to achieve. I think watching weather patterns is also a big factor in good photos. Cloudy days bring even light, early morning and late evening are good for dramatic, contrasting color while water photo’s after a rain gives a nice substance to those types of locations. There is so much more to being a good photographer than pointing and clicking the button. Awareness is everything. I intentionally include images that are grainy, some that show film edges, some infrared, and an overall diverse collection of work. All the photo books I read tend to only show crisp, no grain, tightly cropped images. I personally believe grain and film edges bring an ‘artistic’ element to some of the images. After all, they are indirectly a part of the actual photo. I have seen some black and white images with such deliberate grain you can almost count every dot! Done properly, these types of images can hold their own with even the tightest of images hands down. They are truly art!
Thinking back on the many road trips that I have taken over the years, I believe the trips have become as important as the photography, and always were, I only in recent years realized it! The conversations, the bonding, the music, the various bad fast foods, & looking for unusual things along the way. I wouldn’t trade those trips for anything! It’s amazing how hard photography really is, but at the same time enjoyable! Rarely does anyone pull up to a site, open the car door, snap off a few pics and drive off! My friend DeeDee calls this "Drive by Shooting". There are long hikes, (some even back breaking), lugging heavy equipment around, bug bites, waiting for the exact light you want, sometimes even pleading for it. I have to say, when you confirm that you have a shot you believe to be exceptional, it makes it all worthwhile. Then there are the car rides back home. Everyone is really tired, but there is still good conversation and anticipation of the shots you took. I really cherish it all. Relationships grow and friendships are strengthened.
There is so much more to each photo than what the viewer is seeing. There is a story behind every one of how it was achieved and the picture is the end result of the hard work it took to get it. I guess if it were too easy, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing. It really is a labor of love. Great shots are here in our own backyards, we just have to find them. Indiana is very diverse in terrain and there is literally every type of landscape here anyone could want to photograph. I plan to take many more photo’s of my home state and keep sharing them via online galleries.
I hope to always be able to broaden my horizons and expand my art and photographic skill and work. I am still a student of it all and learn something every painting, every photography trip. I feel the art and photography keep getting a little better every year, so hopefully the best is yet to come! Hopefully everyone likes these images as much as I do, or most of them anyway.
I have work published in magazine covers, calendars, greeting cards, hanging in state parks, nature centers, hospitals, private collections and homes all across the midwest. I dabble in contests from time to time and have some luck here and there, but I don't pursue it regularly. There are sooo many good photographers out there! I don't feel as if photography should be viewed as a competition. I certainly enjoy looking at the ones that are better than me and seeing if I can figure out what makes them better so that I can improve my craft. I enjoy looking at other peoples work and getting to know them. It's all so inspiring! Thank you all! :)
All images within this photo collection are the exclusive property of Lee Mandrell and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without prior written permission. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration (digital, artist rendering or alike) is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws. All images are copyrighted © Lee Mandrell / Leman's Studios.
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