Into the Light by Rick Engdahl

Into the Light by Rick Engdahl


There was a lot we loved about this photo before we talked to Rick Engdahl. But after Rick explained how it came about, we loved it even more.

Rick says his intention behind this image was to “embrace the energy and motion that the blur gives you, but still create a composed image that tells a story.”

Just like in street photography, the story here isn’t what is actually happening in the photo but the one that the viewers create in their minds.

When we see this photo, so many possibilities jump into our imaginations. Is it some sort of supernatural scene? Are the people trying to escape something? And if that’s the case, what about the two children who are lagging behind? And hey, doesn’t that kind of look like one giant spider web? Yikes.

Of course, you may look at this image and create a completely different story. In abstract art, there is no “correct” story — even the artist’s interpretation is just that, an interpretation which is no more valid than yours or mine.

Rick’s composition and the exploding gradients of green do a wonderful job of drawing us into this image.

But what really got us excited about this image is that it’s one that Rick created as part of an online class taught by Alex Lapidus, director of the G+ mentorship program for photographers.

We hadn’t heard of this program before talking to Rick but we’re extremely keen on photographers of all levels finding mentors. Whether you sign up for the G+ program or find a mentor through the plethora of photography groups around town, it’s absolutely essential to have someone who can give you constructive feedback on your images and point you in possible directions. Essential that is if you are trying to improve your craft.

You really don’t get that feedback by posting your images on Facebook or flickr, though we admit that we dig “likes” as much as the next person.

Rick shot this image along a hiking trail in Patapsco State Park, Maryland.

“Kids were playing in the stream at the entrance, backlit by dappled sunlight through trees, making everything look verdant and lush,” Rick says.

To create the shot, he used a slow shutter speed of a 1/4 of a second and set his aperture at f/4. Then, when he pressed the shutter, instead of spinning his zoom ring, he held onto the lens and spun the camera about 30 degrees while the shutter released.

“This resulted in a swirly spin+zoom blur, but with enough distinction in the center of the photo to maintain the subjects leaving the tunnel,” Rick says. “There’s inevitably a fair amount of randomness in the result when shooting this way. I took about a dozen similar shots with varying amounts of motion and ended up with just a couple keepers.”

Featured image, Into the Light by Rick Engdahl, is part of the DC Focused flickr pool. You can see more of Rick’s work on his website, R.K. Engdahl Photography.

Life in metro Washington, D.C. as chronicled by the area's photographers.