A moment…

Personally, a moment in time can make all the difference when it comes to photography, and I’m not talking about anything remotely close to capturing the scene in front of us. What I’m talking about is the kind of a-ha moment when you’ve been doing something else and you get an idea for doing something with a scene or a photograph you’ve already taken. For example, I could be reading a book or watching TV and then I suddenly get an idea for refining a certain photograph a certain way…That’s what I’m getting on about.

- Spots of Water, Spots of Colour -
– Spots of Water, Spots of Colour –

What got me thinking about that was when I was reading yet another badly written news article about politics and an idea came into my mind to revisit some photographs I had taken about a couple of weeks ago. It’s not like I get this kind of thing happening all the time, the need/desire to revisit my past photographs, but it helps me learn & improve (hopefully). If it works, then I usually don’t end up tampering with it, but, like usual, I can just as easily change my mind about whether or not it works or not; it’s part of the problem of double-guessing myself quite a bit. The thing is, I’m not always fully aware when it comes to colour in what I photograph, so revisiting the shots helps me learn to be better aware, even if it’s a little bit at a time.

- Spots of Water, Spots of Colour -
– Spots of Water, Spots of Colour –

The above photographs are easily an example of that specific moment when I get the idea to revisit them in post-processing, especially because I just as easily resisted refining them the first time through. Sometimes, all it takes is learning from past photographs to improve on new ones and, sometimes, all it takes is revisiting old ones to find gems that were covered in dust; it’s all a learning curve that I personally don’t think ever really ends. The thing is, I guess I’m going to have to keep on learning because that’s the only real way to grow & improve.

Stop & learn…

It’s not exactly something that I’m good at, stopping & learning, but it’s something that I know that I’ve got to work on. I see all the crap that’s happening out there in the wider world and I can’t help but wonder how I’m avoiding adding to the noise and how I’m actually doing something that’s of worth. I want to be able to portray the beauty in nature with my photography, so I need to constantly be learning how to do that better; personally, I want to be able to do this to inspire at least one person to get out there and see that there’s more to it than just himself/herself. It’s not necessarily stopping to learn, but taking some time to stop for a bit and use that time to improve & learn how to do what I feel I want to do, and what I feel that I’m meant to do, at least a bit better than I did before I took a breather & stopped to learn.

When it comes to looking through my old photographs, I’ve come to see just how I’ve grown & moved on from thinking of either muted or saturated colour and begun thinking more of just how each has its place in saying something through the image. Personally, I think we’ve got to start taking a look at the consequences of either side in an argument & choices before the time actually comes to make that choice or take on that argument. I’m not one to have any special privilege that lets me judge, so I think I’m just going to say that this is our best chance to stop & learn from our mistakes because we can then learn & move on from what we’ve done wrong and what we’re doing wrong.

I’m still learning more about my vision & style, especially my tastes when it comes to colour & combinations of colour; it goes the same way for how I treat colour when I photograph or how I deal with certain situations in my everyday life. I’m finding new appreciation for bands I still enjoy (Flyleaf, Red & Thrice to name a few) and new approaches to how I look at situations that I come across, not just how I photograph scenes. It’s about time that I look at the man in the mirror (to borrow a phrase & song from Michael Jackson) and do something that can at least try to make it right.

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.

Darn it, I missed something…

We’ve probably all gone through this over the years, forgetting something only to have to go back & figure out how to correct it. The worst part is when it’s something important and we’ve nearly released it out into the wild only to realize that we missed something along the way. I’m like that in just about every way humanly possible, especially when it came to the term papers I wrote in college & university, or even the way I now deal with people every day. Honestly, I think it’s become a part of everyday life, missing something along the way, and it’s become a part of us just because of how easily it happens to all of us.

When it comes to photography, I’m no better and I’ve found that going back over shots from time to time helps me learn and get passed all the times I’ve missed something. Going back over the many shots, in a way, helps give me more of a piece of mind about them, while making me feel rather stupid because I’ve nearly always found something I’ve missed in the process (there’s something to be said for the ability to go back & really look at past shots). Looking through each one helps me see that I’ve missed something and, sometimes, helps me learn how to correct for it & get past it the next time I’m working out my photography with my camera.

It’s often the one thing we dread quite a bit because we associate it with failure nearly 100% of the time; after all, forgetting is, by definition, the failure to remember something. The issue I have with it is when it becomes a part of what defines us because we’re letting the lack of something make us who we are. To me, this can be one of the things that usually breaks the core of who we are because it’s negative nearly 100% of the time.

A place & time…

Nowadays everyone seems to want to get places at certain times with certain milestones reached at that time & place. To me, I’ve almost given up on those certain milestones because I’ve come to realize, that for myself at least, that by living life by some kind of list & schedule isn’t really living at all because it leaves out time for really living at all. If I live out my life by some strict, pre-set schedule, then I wouldn’t be able to notice those around me that are hurting, whether by my own hand or that of others…And I would have missed the chance to spot the small bird looking up to see what was above him when I was out photographing flowers & birds the other day.

- Looking Up -
– Looking Up –

For me, it’s come down to the point where I’m trying to learn as I go about my day without scheduling out every minute of every day…Not that I’m the kind of person to do that, or even stick to it if I did. I’m not exactly inclined to be that rigid with my life and I’m trying to do my best not to be too lazy with how I go about my life. There are times when I wonder what on earth I’m going to do, but there are also times when I realize that I just need a little downtime; my problem is that we all get the two easily confused. I’m in the position that I want to learn from things as I go about life and I really don’t want to miss a chance to absorb, in a good way, what’s going on around me.

Personally, I think it’s come down to a matter of personality; one person loves to have every minute of every day scheduled while the next person plays it by ear. If it comes to the point that stress is a major factor, then I think that rigidity isn’t worth all that much because we were meant for so much more than to just stress out about things. Sometimes, all we have to do is take a little look around when we’re stressed out, or too preoccupied, and then we might learn something along the way.

I got nothing…

Isn’t it always a real downer when we’ve got nothing to say, nothing to do? Sure, sometimes not having anything pressing to do can be a good thing, but sometimes it leads our minds to wander and then we get lost in that wandering. Sometimes all it takes is a good book, a good drink (the non-alcoholic kind), or even just a nudge from that still small voice inside, to get back on track & get inspired. Oddly enough, for me, it sometimes is a good song over the radio while I’m driving, or from some other music player; it’s some country song, some gospel song, or, on the rare occasion, a Good Charlotte song (I’m thinking of either The River or We Believe, or even something from their newest work) because my strange mind just works that way. While I’m not exactly onboard with everything about them, the band does inspire me a bit in their music.

- Tree & Flowers -
– Tree & Flowers –

The above photograph was taken a few months ago, but while I was thinking about the new album from Good Charlotte, Youth Authority, I figured that, in a completely unrelated way, I should take a second look at some of my photographs from the gardens where this shot was taken. This shot, and another that was similar, stuck out to me, but this one had a better composition so I decided to bring out what I remember feeling at that time when I took the shot. Did I get it? Maybe. Did it in inspire me to try it again? YES. With all the refinements that I made (vignette, clarity, vibrancy, noise & select color adjustments), I actually succeeded in bringing out my intent for this photograph, something I couldn’t do when I was going over this shot the first time.

Thinking about it, when I got nothing, inspiration can come from the most unlikely of areas, often from something completely unrelated. Inspiration can often show up when we’re not even thinking about what to do and sometimes we just have to ride that wave, or just remember what it was for when we’ve got time to get out and follow through on what inspired us. So, when we got nothing, sometimes I think the best idea is to just go back & learn from past things we’ve done to inspire us.

Anyone else but me…

One of the best songs, that I’ve heard in a long time, about modern society, is Hokus Pick’s Anybody Else But Me and it’s pure genius. It’s a satirical look at people wanting to be anyone else but themselves and it’s awesome, not just because they’re Canadian; sorry America, we got this one because you’ve got your teams on the Stanley Cup way too many times. We’re so focused on being famous or at least someone of noteworthiness, that we lose our uniqueness in the process. In photography, as in life, that means copying someone else’s vision, techniques, methods & beliefs blindly.

While I’ve read a lot & learnt how some really gifted professionals work through their craft, their photographs, and the way they make them, are uniquely theirs…Or at least they really should be. Forever a tinkerer, I’m going to be tinkering with the methods & ways I tweak my photographs and I’ll learn along the way, not just through my mistakes, but I’ll learn from the professionals as well; they’ve written many a book about their craft, so it’s a no-brainer using the knowledge they have to impart to help myself to grow as well. When it comes to life, we’re not out to imitate, but to grow as the Creator’s meant us to grow; we’re meant to look upwards, not downwards or horizontally…We’re not called to copy one another, but to imitate the perfect example the Creator was for us. Sometimes we’re given a feeling/impulse of what we’re supposed to do, sometimes it’s in our daily readings, and sometimes it’s in how we’re working that we’re given guidance.

Photography, compared to every other art, is so much younger than the others, but why is it that imitation is seen as flattery & striving for meaning not as important? I mean, come on, we’re not all drones or Borg here. There’s just so much out there to photograph, so that doesn’t mean we’ve got to copy others’ photographs or even their methods, but just learn from them…The same goes for life itself. It’s all in how we try not to be anybody else but ourselves…In the way we’re supposed to be.

Looking back…

Most of the time we think of progression as never looking back, and I completely agree with that; we’re supposed to run as if we’re going for the prize. There is one thing with that however, it doesn’t mean forgetting others, not learning from the past, or even ignoring how what we do affects others. Looking back then is, for me, seeing how what I’m doing to help/inspire others, something I’ve fallen short on so many times. When it comes to looking back, I’m thinking more of how to reflect on what I’ve learnt over the years, but not dwelling on it as if it’s the be-all, end-all; looking back is for other things than how we’re running in this race called life…Like how our hobbies are doing & how they’re affecting us.

Thinking about how we go about our hobbies, there’s the idea that they are just done for fun, but I think that there’s more to it than that; it’s about learning to love what we enjoy doing and, for the arts in particular, it’s about learning & growing. There’s a satirical saying that if a parent doesn’t want their children into drugs, then they should get them into photography because they won’t be able to afford drugs…It’s meant to be humorous, but it’s got quite a bit of truth to it because it can get really expensive and then the fun & joy can easily be drained out of it; then it’s no fun at all. We need to be looking back & learning in our hobbies, or they just might become stale & next to useless; this might not be true of all hobbies, but I’m thinking it’s true of most of them out there (i.e. if reading is a hobby, then we learn as we read). Through this, we can then inspire others…How, I’m not sure, but I’m trying.

Looking back is good for learning, but looking back & falling back doesn’t quite work out that well because we can easily forget what we’re aiming for by becoming complacent. As for everything else, moderation is king (as well as context), and I’m often far from it most times, but trying to get there’s a struggle, but one quite worth it. There’s something to be said for moderation in these days of extremes…I may just be ranting at this point, but looking back with moderation just makes sense. Look back, but do it with care!

Far from…

Sometimes, we go with the flow because it’s simple & easier that way and then, one day, something gets to us and we wonder why we’re going that way (I’m just as guilty of this as much as the next person); sometimes it’s a person that makes us rethink where we’re going and how we’re getting there. Now that Mother’s Day is come & gone here in North America, I’ve come to realize just how much we’re influenced by those that came before us; be it parents, grandparents, ancestors or others. We all have someone that’s influenced us in ways we don’t quite realize until the day comes that something makes us think about him, or her.

For me, it’s been something to realize just how much parents & others influence just what makes me who I am; we’re creatures of influence in ways that sometimes we don’t realize too well. There’s this song, New Frontier, by Canadian country singer Aaron Pritchett, about a couple going on to new frontiers and, in a way, it’s more than that for all of us; we’re constantly seeing the frontier in front of us change, and not always for the better. Personally, I think it’s about time we get far from where modern culture is going and forge our own new frontier (for lack of a better term) by caring for others, doing something that matters to someone, and holding fast to the faith that made us who we are today, making sure it’s real for us. We can do just that in our lives with what we do for work, with others, or even in our hobbies (i.e. photography, hiking, walking, etc.); just do something that might mean something to, or inspire, others.

Looking back at what I’ve done, in my life, I come to think that I’ve missed the mark quite a few times and I’m thinking that I might just be finally getting the point. Sometimes it takes a while to get the point and, although it seems a bit painful, we’ve got a bit more time done & we’ve learnt quite a bit in the process; it’s a learning process. For me, personally, it’s about learning to use the gifts & talents that the Creator has endowed me with and learning not to ignore them. So, let’s get far from where society dictates we should go (thinking chiefly about ourselves) and really set out to inspire others!

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.