That one shot…

When we often think of getting the perfect shot at something, or of something, we think of it as something that only comes once. But, I can’t help thinking, what if it comes more than once? I look at a few of my shots over the past while and wonder if I couldn’t have done that more than once at that time. Because, unlike life, I often bracket my shots (taking one shot overexposed and one underexposed in addition to the one I’ve dialed in on the camera), I just may get it more than once, but with a slightly different exposure: I’m doing this to not only get it right, but to see what different exposures might look like. Life, however, doesn’t really allow for bracketing like you can do with the camera, but it allows for us to try our best at getting it right, we just need to see that we need to look outside ourselves to do just that.

We do get our second chances at getting it right, for the most part, and we often worry too much about missing it that, when it does come, our worrying distracts us and we still end up missing it, despite our best attempts. I end up being so guilty of this that I’ve started really looking back at my old photographs to see if I’ve gotten close to capturing the right moment and that gets me thinking of how I can learn from the shots I’m taking another look at. I know I’ve said this all before, but it really needs to be said again, especially if you’re like me and forget things all too easily; learning from previous shots is another challenge entirely because we’re creatures of habit and it’s all too easy for us, myself included to continue along the same path. How does this relate to us getting that one perfect shot? It’s about learning in order to get that one shot. Personally, I think we need to get faith right, but other than that, there might not always be a clear way to get that shot, or thing, perfect or even close to being 100% right.

- Tiny Blue Stars -
– Tiny Blue Stars –

When I look back at shots that I’ve taken, especially like the one above, I can’t help but wonder, knowing that I’ll revisit it again and probably tweak it some more, how I’m going to learn from this one. Maybe next time I’ll use my shutter speed better (more effectively) to allow in more light, use a polarizer to enhance contrast, or even shoot it with a filter meant for special effects; the important thing is that I’ll try something different and try to learn from what I did that time around in order to help the next time. That’s what I’ll try to do the next time to get that one shot.

On that chance…

Taking a chance is sometimes the scariest thing we can do in life, and in photography it can be just as bad. Some photographers go out in the mountains without the right gear or supplies, getting lost in the process and sometimes it’s the last thing they do in their lives because of carelessness. Why rush up to a bear to grab that close-up shot when it can get spooked and charge at you? I’d rather eat bear meat than be meat for the bear. Grab the long zoom and take the shot from a safe distance with a guide to help you out in case of emergency with extra supplies as well. I’m not saying to go out and buy a long lens or more gear, I’m trying to say is that safety should come first when in the wild, or in dangerous urban areas.

Sometimes we forget what’s around us when we’re taking a photograph, or two, and get too lost in the moment; we put ourselves in danger by not being aware of what’s around us. Take for example shooting a close-up of leaves on a large tree; the best way to go about it is to either shoot from the ground & crop later in software, or use a moderate zoom lens (40-60mm on a 4/3 camera). This way, we don’t have to climb the tree & sit on a branch, carefully holding the camera while trying to maintain balance high above the ground…And, if we’re afraid of heights or injury prone, or both (like I am), it helps not the climb the tree. Leave the dangerous stuff to people who are prepared and use a sturdy & strong ladder if you really want that close-up shot.

- Sunlight and Trees -
– Sunlight and Trees –

While watching out would be a good thing in terms of safety, it’s also a good thing when it comes to looking for shots that really bring out a scene in front of us. Like the shot above, I was keeping my distance and shooting at a safe distance with a focal length that reached far enough to bring out the menagerie of leaves on a sunny Saturday morning in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighborhood. I wanted to show the light falling on them in a way that would make it about not just the light itself, but the colors as well. Tweaking it slightly to make it seem more realistic while bringing out the contrast & color, I think, or at least hope, I got it right, if my memory hasn’t failed me yet. I stayed safe (thanks to not having a ladder or being able to climb trees) while looking & watching my surroundings. So…Stay safe and keep taking photographs!

A chance…

Sometimes we miss the chance at a shot we try so hard to get and fall flat on our faces, wondering & asking why…Believe me, I’ve been there & done that. There’s always another chance at a shot that will be just as good if not better, and if not, then maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t meant to be; it’s something I’ve struggled with for what seems like ages. The thing is, I’ve learned, even though I still forget it quite a bit, that sometimes telling the mind to shut up & trudge along is the better thing to do, in photography…And sometimes in life itself.

Now on to a more cheerful mood…Remember the time you first got the shot that amazed you and made you want to continue photography no matter what? That was the perfect, meant-to-be shot that sometimes, even just recalling it, can bring a smile into even the lightless time. If you really think about it, it wasn’t just a chance, it was an opportunity handed to you/I and we took it, giving us that one shot of encouragement we needed. Most of the time, we end up too busy pushing ourselves to grab that perfect shot that we can just as easily miss the right shot; I know because I’ve been there way too many times to count.

UBC 2036 Main Mall

Taking the chance to get out there to find that shot is part of the fun because, like I’ve said before, it can open our eyes to different possibilities. From working at angles that we’re not used to working at to zooming in to a level of detail we’ve never had before, taking that chance is all about expanding horizons. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t; like on a recent trek out to the nearby university where I was working with a lens that I hadn’t used more than once before, trying to get a shot that I didn’t have a clue how to get. It took some trying, but some shots did turn out and, even with some chromatic aberration around some of the edges on one or two of them, the photographs turned out well. The above photograph was one of the vast majority that didn’t have chromatic aberration and it turned out good; the lines lead through the image while the bushes stop the viewer from following it too far and/or at a pace that would loose the viewer’s attention. So take that chance and you just might be surprised!