The Devil is in the Detail with Pam Jenks

Here at the League of Landscape Photographers we are assembling a great production team who plan to bring you awesome, inspiring content not only on our blog but also in our upcoming annual, collectible League magazine. Below, one of founding team members, Pam Jenks, shares her personal story of creative discovery when visiting iconic landscapes. See more of Pam’s stunning work at her 500px site.

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©Pam Jenks

The Devil Is In The Detail.  Or is it?

I’ve always been a detail oriented person, so I’m not sure why I expected my photography would be any different.  But I really wanted it to be.  When I retired a few years ago and decided to take photography more seriously, I had visions of grand landscapes with interesting foregrounds and compelling leading lines.  Those were the photos I loved to look at and those were the scenes that I wanted to photograph (or so I told myself).  But as much as I tried, when I was in the field I just couldn’t see it.  Initially I tried going to iconic locations that had been photographed beautifully many times before.  Even when I stood in the exact spot from which those other photos were taken, I still couldn’t get it right.  I started taking workshops and going shooting with friends, hoping a light bulb would go on.  When someone else would point “it” out to me, it would suddenly appear and I would shoot away, happy that I finally had “the” shot.  When I sat down to process those photos, they felt false, like they didn’t belong to me.   So I stopped asking for help, and while my fellow photogs were shooting the grand scene, I could be found on my belly in the dirt, photographing the ripples at the edge of a river.  Or pulling out my 100-400mm lens and zooming in on some detail of that grand scene.   I’ve decided not to fight it and to go with what comes naturally.  I’m embracing the more intimate world that I see through my lens.  I recently found myself at another iconic location – Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.  When I arrived at the edge of the canyon, just before sunset, I set up my camera with my wide angle lens,  got that iconic shot, and then I got bored.  After clicking a few more shots as the light changed, I found myself staring into the canyon, noticing the rocks on the edges and the lines made by algae in the water.  Ignoring the surprised looks from all of the other photographers with their wide angle set ups, I pulled out my 100-400mm lens and immersed myself in the detail.   For me, this photo of the detail in the canyon is much more satisfying than the postcard shot that I took.   Many people find that “the devil is in the detail” but for me, the detail is my comfort zone.  The devil is in the bigger picture.