That ol’ drunk horizon…

Thinking about it, how many times have we taken a photograph without checking out the horizon line? I’ve done it quite a few times and, I’m ashamed to admit, it’s all about not paying too much attention to where it is in the overall composition. It’s all too common for me to ignore it and end up with a crooked horizon like that really makes it look like I was drunk at the time I took the photograph (just to be clear, I’m not one to drink booze). Sometimes, a little slant to a horizon is just a new perspective and in life we want to look for a new angle on things, but we need to make sure that we’re not far off or we’re going to really fall down. Considering what my personal tastes are, especially in music, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m not just more than a little crazy.

- Red Red Pond -
– Red Red Pond –

The above photograph does have a slant to the horizon, but it’s because it’s a broken shoreline and it helps aid the composition; or at least I personally think it does. Now I’m writing/typing this while listening to Good Charlotte’s Youth Authority album and it might count for some oddities in what I’m saying, but hear me out; the horizon has a great effect on the photograph, so we need to pay attention to its placement, but unless we’re going to the whacky & outlandish, we should be purposeful in our placement of it. If we’re going to be purposeful about it, we need (myself included) to realize that a horizon that is slightly off looks like we were drunk while one that’s way off can work if it’s meant to convey motion and doesn’t look like a total screw up.

The above photograph was recently taken and I have to say it took some time to refine it, mostly because I didn’t use a polarizer which meant that the reds were off, but I managed to correct for that with red & orange tweaks in Lightroom. That reminds me, when is Adobe going to wise up and release Lightroom 7? I sure don’t want to be restricted to a month-by-month subscription for something that’s the backbone of my digital photography when it comes to working on the computer, but that’s off topic (stupid Adobe). Until next time, keep the horizon straight, watch where it’s placed in the frame, and pay attention to what’s going on in the composition.

Honestly (Part 2)…

In reality, all we seek from the artist, be it musically or photographically, is honesty & reality in how their music, or photographs, are done/presented. The issue is that we need to define whether it means emotionally or visually and if it’s making something exactly how we felt, or something exactly how it looks. I’d show another one of my many photographs to help me argue this point, but I’ve done that so many times before that I don’t really want a single photograph to speak out for the entire discourse (it’s more of an argument, but discourse sounds fancier), but I’d rather just use it without really including it in the discourse itself.

To a certain extent, it’s like the song from The Fray, Heartbeat, because we’ve got to go after the heartbeat, feel that heartbeat. I know I’m stretching the lyrics to something that they’re not originally meant to be about, but the song is about a person being able to really feel another’s heartbeat and that’s what we should be after…We should be after some kind of heartbeat in the work(s) of art. It won’t always come so easily to us, me especially, but that’s the challenge and what, in the end, makes it worthwhile…to me at least. My take on it is this: what does it make me think & feel when I look at this photograph that I took? With all the superficiality out there, on both ends of the political spectrum, I think we need a little more honesty, heart & soul in what we’re doing in our daily lives. It’s supposed to start with us and maybe, just maybe, it might not end with us; in doing so, we’re not just inspiring others around us, but it’ll eventually grow to those outside our little circle of friends.

With all we have at our fingertips, we don’t need a little electronic chip in our bodies to improve things, we just need to get out there and do something, make something, that might just inspire someone, or even help them along the way. Looking at all the news & ads about how the latest piece of tech is supposed to solve all our problems, I realize that it’s not going to do that, because it’s either one little tool or one piece of the distraction that keeps us from moving on in life, as well as our hobbies. There’s got to be some balance after all, or we’ll end up going off the deep end & spending way more than we can afford or should be spending to begin with, but that’s just my opinion…And I’m sticking to it.

- Burnt Red -
– Burnt Red –

Honestly…

Truthfully, I set out to write this post without a clear subject in mind, promising myself that it wouldn’t be another rant, or even something superficial…We all know that we’re bombarded with too much of that nowadays. Looking back at my old posts & photographs, listening to some of my pop-punk, country, indie & new wave music (the newest Paramore album is basically new wave), I’ve begun to wonder how on earth I was going to make sense of all this. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gone completely off my rocker…And it’s not exactly like being normal works for me; I don’t think that it can even apply to me most of the time.

- Cascade Falls -
– Cascade Falls –

Honestly, I’ve begun to use sites & things like Behance more to help me showcase my photographic work; I get my stuff out there and it helps me feel at least some sense of relief that at least I’ve gotten that far. For me, I’ve got to get off my butt and really try harder to get somewhere with this thing I call photography, mostly because it’s a bit like therapy for me when I’m wondering what to do or when I’m feeling down. I don’t have to spend money on it like some maniac, but I do have to use what I’ve got to say something and hopefully inspire someone in the process. I don’t want to be superficial, I want to be the kind of person that looks at a waterfall like the one in the photograph above and says, Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually to see something like this, and set out to inspire others to get outside and see more than just the yard or the city.

I’m far from perfect and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes; it doesn’t necessarily help to dwell on the past, but to move on. The thing is, if we go into something moaning, groaning & complaining, aren’t we just setting ourselves up for failure to begin with? This, in my opinion, is something we all need to struggle to get past daily because, in this day & age, everything is so superficial, that it’s easy only to see the metaphorical surface of what’s happening around us. I struggle with this so many times that it’s almost comical and I’ve come to expect the struggle so that I can learn to improve along the way.

A place for review…

Now I haven’t done one of these for quite some time, and I’d like to take the time to say that a must read, for me, among current books just released is The Soul of the Camera: The Photographer’s Place in Picture-Making by David duChemin. I’ve only finished the first few chapters and it’s something that’s quite amazing because it talks, and discusses, about the role we play when we take photographs because we comprise the proverbial soul of the camera in that it’s our emotions that go into making the image. Getting this book a few days before July 1st, Canada Day 2017, I pretty much know what’s dominating my non-theological readings during the long weekend and it’s this book (as well as finishing up War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy for the umpteenth time).

This long weekend, I’ll probably be out taking photographs, while not taking in the Canada Day celebrations because of how busy they get, and I’m going to at least try to take photographs that mean something. For me, life’s a little too short not to care about what the Creator’s let me be able to do, so I’m going to do something with what I’ve been given. The first book above has made me wonder if I’m really putting my heart & soul into what I’m doing, photographically or otherwise; many things have made me wonder this before and here this book is, reminding me yet again. Yet I am always reminded by how easy I end up lashing out when I’m frustrated and end up messing up my chances to be real in life & how I take photographs. Still working on this idea of putting more soul into my photographs, I’m far from getting it right with any consistency, but I’ll try each time.

When it comes to photographs already taken, reviewing them can be a good thing, especially if you’re going about it looking for vision & soul in the shot itself. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve come to realize just how far short I’ve fallen when it comes to doing the right thing and now, little by little, I’m trying to recover from that fault. When it comes to life, I’m slowly, and painfully trying to slow myself down & examine why I am the way I am, and when it comes to photography, I’m learning to slow it down & really examine a scene before I take a shot; either way, I’m slowly learning to really put my heart & soul into it.

Where meaning & editing meet…

Personally, I tend to think about the meeting point between meaning & editing or, in simpler terms, vision & refining quite a bit, or at least I should. Out of all the things that frustrate me and cause me to go nuts, it’s this thing that drives me nuts every time because I never quite now if I’m going to be able to put up or shut up. And, to be honest, I’d rather put up than shut up, especially when it comes to getting it right when I match my vision to my refining in photography. Most of the time I don’t even come close and that’s what really gets me frustrated…Much more than it should.

- Q E Snow -
– Q E Snow –
- Q E Pond -
– Q E Pond –

These photographs have been festering for some time in my photography library for this year; they’re from at least a month ago and I haven’t touched the first one up for at least three & a half weeks and the one with the frozen pond is a recent edit, and a quick one at that, but that doesn’t mean I did it half way…I just used what I saw in the other edits I did on the photographs from that place and translated it onto this one. Personally, I hate photographs that have a strong blueish tint to the white balance because when I do get that, it looks hazy & weak to me; this makes winter photography a bit trickier than it should for me. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s some restrictions I place on myself I should be smashing down because all they do is frustrate me, and my preference for white balance should be one of them I should at least calm down so that it comes more in line with what I see in a scene.

How do I do that? I’m lost at times about how to do just that, but I’ll keep working at it, trying to get my brain to cooperate with my vision and then, just maybe then, I won’t get so darn frustrated when things don’t turn out. Like I’ve probably said so many times before, it’s a work in progress and something I should keep working at every time. So until I get it right, which I doubt it will ever happen, I’ll keep searching for where vision & refining meet.

Christmas (Pt. 2)…

Now it’s Christmas Day and I figured that I’d put out another post, just wishing you all a Merry Christmas. We all know the reason for the season (pardon the rhyming) and it’s a manger, not some cheerful old chubby dude in a red & white suit. We all get caught up in the materialism of the season, thanks to all the sales, TV ads, and the need for the latest gear, myself included, but family & belief are more important than just buying thing after thing. It’s one of the hardest things to do because we’ve got such easy access to credit & loans for the latest gadgets; there’s nothing wrong with an upgrade, especially if you need it.

Winter’s got the snow for those in the north and warm tropical weather for those in the south (hopefully). What it’s also got is challenging issues when it comes to exposure settings for photography; what helps is exposing the snow (and white sand) at +1 to +2 stops and checking the greens (if any) at about -.3 to 0. It’s not a full-proof solution, but it helps and works for most scenes because the camera’s light meter wants to read it as medium (gray). Sometimes, bracketing exposures helps with the scene, especially if we decide to turn to an HDR (High Dynamic Range) solution afterwards.

- Winter Grass -
Winter Grass

Now the above photograph, taken recently, potentially had two issues with the scene: bright white snow & overcast skies. HDR wasn’t quite necessary because the snow served as a reflector for the underside of the large leaves/grass and the overcast skies had spots of clear blue skies spread the light around. The snow was exposed at +2 stops and the lighting was helped out by the reflectiveness of the snow itself; it was a matter of working with what there was in front of me and this time I actually got it to work. Part of me thinks that it was an early Christmas present, because this just doesn’t happen this way in my photography all that often, but I’m not going to dwell on that too much because it’s way too trivial when it comes to other issues that are facing the world at large.

So, go and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Striving for failure…

Not only does this sound wrong on so many levels, it doesn’t make an ounce of logical sense at all. But, wait a minute, why strive to fail? We don’t really try when we fail, do we? Not really, but the kind of failure I’m thinking of is different; it’s all about learning in the process & the fallout afterwards. I’m thinking about how we fail in terms of not just why we fail, but what we do while we’re about to fail.

It goes without saying that if we’re not really in the right frame of mind, then we’re most likely headed for failure. The same usually applies to missing the moment, but, if we look back, we can, mentally at least, take notes on what worked & what didn’t and hopefully why. This will usually help us learn in the process & grow along the way; it doesn’t always happen this way, but most of the time it does. We don’t want to strive for failure, but we want to strive to learn from our failures; I guess, for myself, learning new things & approaches to how I go about photographing things keeps me working to get better and improve just how I capture the shot & how I refine the shot in post processing, if at all. It’s about more than just being in the moment…It’s about being active in the moment.

While I’ve said it so many times before, and often failed to take my own advice, it should be said again: there’s something in trying something different, even if we think we’re going to fail. It’s through this that we can learn from what went wrong and discover new ways of seeing, literal & figurative. When we try new ways of doing photography, we attempt different things that will usually lead us to an ‘a-ha’ kind of moment where we get a bit wiser…Hopefully.

Blur…

We often think that any amount of blur is wrong for every shot because we like everything tack sharp where nothing is a surprise. I mean, who really likes a surprise that doesn’t give us something? In photography, we tend to like images with everything in focus because it means we don’t have to use our brains too much. Blur makes us think something is wrong with the shot and that there’s something being hidden, or taken away from, us.

- Leaves of Autumn -
– Leaves of Autumn –

The above shot was shot with an open aperture (f5) to make lighting easier with a shutter of about 1/30, but that’s next to useless information if the shot doesn’t do anything at all. For me, it was making eye movement possible through use of blur; I wanted to draw the eye inward to make it stop & ponder the colors of autumn. If everything had been tack sharp, there would’ve been too many elements that were a muddy brown in complete focus, distracting from the greens, reds & yellows and I wanted to keep the image free of distractions while making it look natural at the same time.

We all see blur in different ways, love it or hate it, but it’s something that can easily be used for creative ends or even to make the shot speak volumes. The thing we’ve got to get into our heads, mine especially, is that there’s something to say with each shot and we’ve got to make it count or we’re just adding to the noise in the end, once everything is said & done. It’s both simple & complicated at the same time because it’s easy to say we’ll do it but harder to actually go out & do it. My big fear was too much blur from a wide open aperture, but the above shot turned out alright in my books, so I had to just get out & do it.

Disappointments & surprises…

While no one really likes disappointments, especially myself, I’ve come to think of them as necessary for learning. And I’m not just saying this because of the American elections that have just passed either; elections in which both nominees were a bad choice. Sometimes, we have to take what we can get and make something beautiful out of it…Something that makes us see something for its value. We need to work with how things turn out and try to show that we can be better than how they turned out.

- Leaves of Autumn -
– Leaves of Autumn –

Sometimes we need to get out of our metaphorical lane and do something different; for me it was exposing the shot above lighter than it really was, by at least a stop. I didn’t care too much about color initially (I could fix that in post-processing), but I cared about atmosphere, so that’s where I put my concentration towards. It was darker than this in reality, but it didn’t feel like that at all. Somehow, along the way, a thought was put into my mind that I should get out in the wet weather (not nearly as wet as I’ve ever done) and work at getting a good shot. As a result, the weather was a disappointment, but the shot that resulted from it was the surprise. I got out of my usual metaphorical lane by working against the impulse to go darker to match reality and instead go lighter to match atmospheric feel.

I’m beginning to think that having one without the other isn’t a good thing because balancing out disappointments with surprises leads to a healthy learning curve. We should be working for a healthy balance in our photography, one that’s creative, inspiring (or at least some of the time), and not without at least a little bit of growth now & then…The kind of growth that gets us out of our metaphorical lane.

Thought & Taking a Stand…

It says something when we’re about to go into a time where two people, both as mucked up & corrupt as could possibly be, are running for US president; now I’m nowhere near perfect, but that just had to be said. Where’s our thinking when stuff like this happens? I’m inclined to say we’ve all mucked up, because we all let stuff like this happen without much thought, let alone taking a stand and saying that enough is enough. We’ve let our lax attitudes spill over into politics…I’m as much to blames as the next person…but let’s start by at least beginning to take a stand & not taking just any old thing as okay.

We’re just as mucked up when it comes to photography because we’ve let just anything be called photography, including explicit imagery. After all, it’s all just art, right? WRONG!! I’m going out on limb here, but I’m going to say that we’ve nearly lost sight of what photography’s for…showing & saying something of value with the camera. So many times, I’ve fallen short of this, I’m beginning to think that I’ve lost it altogether, but then, every now & then, I actually get it right (or at least close) that it brings me back in.

What seems to get me every time, is that I end up forgetting to really take that stand, thinking that I can’t do it…But I have to dig deeper than just thinking that I can’t do it & acting on it; if we just all stop there, then we’ve lost it already. With a little help, we know we can’t do it on our own, but that help makes us get past it all; with my beliefs, if comes from above, so why do I forget it so many times? I get cowardly and forget it so many times, letting the world get to me, brining me down. So the answer’s right in front of us…We’ve just got to give it some thought and take a stand against all this crap.