Monday, July 19, 2010

What does this photo say?

"What do you want the photo to say?" is one of the first questions I always ask clients before starting a new assignment. The answer helps guide me while executing the vision. Just today, I re-learned that what the photo says to me is not necessarily what it says to another person–like the editor.

On and off for the past month I've been working on a story about a system of rigorous farming techniques developed by the founder of the Waldorf School, Rudolf Steiner. Called Biodynamics, it's organic farming, which prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides, but with an overlay of Steiner's holistic philosophy and the use of homeopathic-like preparations. Today, an increasing number of vineyards and wineries–especially in Oregon–are adopting Steiner's intensive techniques.

Since Steiner taught that the whole environment, moon and other planets influenced vineyard plant growth, I wanted to create a photograph illustrating the concepts. Somehow I wanted an ethereal, other planet-like feeling with the moon dominating the sky over the vineyard. So I went to the Doe Ridge Biodynamic vineyard on a full moon night, set up my shot with the rolling hills in the background and the full moon dominating the sky.

But how to make it feel ethereal and other-planet like? I didn't have any preconceptions, so I winged it. Setting my D3 on a tripod, I stopped down to f14
with ISO set at 200 so I could have a long exposure–81 seconds. After clicking the shutter, I ran up and down the vineyard rows manually flashing my Nikon SB 900 strobe holding a bluish filter over the head to light the posts and vines. Using the small aperture creates the starburst effect.

I liked the look, but wasn't sure the photo really illustrated Steiner's ideas. I haven't spoken with the editor, but her choices spoke. While she was suppose to choose 3 total photos to illustrate the story, she chose 9, which always feels good. But she didn't choose this one.

What do you think? What does this photo say to you?

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