A Good Day by Michael Orton

Today was one of those days.  After 35 years of car­ry­ing a cam­era I con­sider myself for­tu­nate indeed to have expe­ri­enced some of these days, when every­thing seems to align, the weather, the light, the sea­son, the loca­tion, and let’s not for­get, the pho­tog­ra­pher. After all, with­out the act of mak­ing the deci­sion to set out, noth­ing will be cre­ated. While work­ing in the stock photo busi­ness my work­flow was quite dif­fer­ent from today . My goal was to cre­ate mar­ketable con­cept images and I would research loca­tions to shoot spe­cific images. I would have to place myself in the right loca­tion, at the right time with the best light which was not always easy. Remark­ably I did have some of ” those days ” back then, but not like the ones that have occurred since I became immersed in ICM (Inten­tional Cam­era Move­ment) these last years. I have an inti­mate knowl­edge of the land­scape within a close dis­tance from home and can almost visu­al­ize before set­ting out the like­li­hood of there being the type of sub­ject mat­ter that will feed my imag­i­na­tion. And of course the more I explore the more data I have to draw from. With ICM the required “raw mate­r­ial”, unlike mak­ing a con­ven­tional pho­to­graph, is not a spe­cific object or rec­og­niz­able scene, but rather the start­ing point, like a piece of clay , shape­less until forged and formed into shape. This is the essence of work­ing in this fash­ion. It has lit­tle to do with the actual tech­nique of mov­ing the cam­era and every­thing to do with how you can imag­ine and explore that which is the start­ing point, the raw material.

Today is a late fall day. Leaves had been falling for weeks, morn­ing mists were begin­ning to appear, skies were a patchy blue. If I’m lucky this time of year lasts a few weeks. I love work­ing when there are spaces in the trees and the branches con­trast with the inter­spersed leaves. I set out to walk the edge of a river not far away. There are a vari­ety of trees, bushes and growth, with logs, large and small stones lin­ing the shore­line. (And the salmon are run­ning ) I made many more than the four images shown, but these I selected because they were made stand­ing in almost the same spot.


"A Good Day" - Image 1 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 1 by Michael Orton


Image one is the light reflected off of the leaves of a small bush , which I ren­dered into hun­dreds of shards of light with a fast cam­era move­ment and short shut­ter speed. When viewed at full size this image has remark­able com­plex­ity and blend­ing . The bush was a short dis­tance to my left.


"A Good Day" - Image 2 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 2 by Michael Orton


Image two is sim­ply fallen leaves on a spread of medium sized round stones with the sand washed from between them. They are in the shade , and the blue comes from the reflected blue of the sky. The sky had some clouds which occa­sion­ally gave me over­cast light. - 1/2 sec­ond with what I refer to as medium cam­era move­ment speed , using a some­what oblique line and chang­ing focal length dur­ing expo­sure. When I move my cam­era most often I do not swivel from a fixed point but move it in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to a movie cam­era on a track. These stones and leaves where just to my right.


"A Good Day" - Image 3 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 3 by Michael Orton


Image three is look­ing across the river . You can see the sandy embank­ment ren­dered as a soft­ened wash while the trees and their reflec­tion remain some­what rec­og­niz­able. I used an extended oval motion at 2 sec­onds to retain the ver­ti­cal lines.


"A Good Day" - Image 4 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 4 by Michael Orton


Image four is, yes wait for it, a pho­to­graph, and was taken stand­ing in exactly the same spot as # 3 . Some­times you just take what you are given and make the best of it. I took the polar­izer and ND fil­ter off, kneeled down and scooped this image from the sur­face of the river.The intri­cate, jagged lines of the reflected trees and a hint blue from the sky were to good to pass up. Hand­held at 1/125.

So yes it was a good day. One that I wish every pho­tog­ra­pher could expe­ri­ence, because when you do, it will fuel your pas­sion . This is what keeps us looking.

The video ” A Walk In The Palm Grove ” on our web­site is another good exam­ple of what can be cre­ated at one location.

There is no sub­sti­tute for see­ing… Michael

The pre­ced­ing arti­cle is copy­righted and writ­ten by Cana­dian fine art land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Orton. You can see more of his work at michaelortonphotography.com


  1. De says:

    Great pod­cast, inspired me to go out an try some ICM. Really pleased with the results of the first attempt which some can be seen on my Flickr photo stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ocreationsphotography/sets/72157644571718621

  2. Barefoot says:

    Michael seems so per­sonal. No arro­gance in his pre­sen­ta­tion that he actu­ally has every right to dis­play if he had so cho­sen to. A very big fan of his work.

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