Mistakes & madness…

Thinking about all the times I get frustrated when an image doesn’t turn out alright, I usually end up forgetting about the photographs entirely; the easier thing to do would be to see if it didn’t turn out right because of settings, or if it’s because I’m just not looking at it right. I mean, it’s not always evident that I’m looking at a mistake or something that just needs a bit of a boost because I’m dealing with a RAW file that needs refining; RAW files contain quite a bit more info than JPEG, but the flip-side is that they will usually, if not always, need refining to get the shot out to where we want it to. Personally, the refining means that more skill & time is needed, something that’s more of a learning challenge, making each shot more of an investment than your typical JPEG.
When it comes to revisiting old photographs I’ve taken, I’d rather have the RAW versions because they’re easier to work with and give me more of a leeway when it comes to making any adjustments. This way, if I make mistakes, I have a base image that’s not affected because I’m using a format with more give & take in terms of the information contained within it; RAW files are usually at least 7x the size of JPEGs and require time to go through them, needing programs like Lightroom or Photoshop to work with. I’d rather get it right in camera, so RAW files help me better in this because they give me more base information to work with and they don’t lose quality each time I save them to a new location or make refinements. Sometimes, it creates a bit of madness because those files come out looking a bit murky, but when they’re properly interpreted (saved to a file format that everything can read rightly), they come out just as good; RAW files are basically the digital version of film negatives, so they require lab time…In this case, it’s digital darkroom type programs like Lightroom.

- Out of the Tree -
– Out of the Tree –

Mistakes are also easier to overcome in a RAW file, but that never means that the format is a cop-out for getting things right in the first place, it just means that smaller mistakes are somewhat easier to correct. These days, when we have so many options of what we can do, mistakes come easy, and so does the madness, but if we’re really serious about it, we can take the time to learn from them. Like the shot of the leaves in the above photograph, we can come out of a rough spot and grow, if we want to learn…We just need to get past our own mistakes, something I’m still struggling to do most of the time.

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Amazed by the lights…

Taking some time on Sunday after the morning’s church service to photograph some smaller flowers under an overcast sky after overnight rains, I was tinkering with how the light played up against the tiny flowers, called forget-me-nots (Myosotis for the gardening geeks out there), with the idea of purpose and living with meaning in mind. What this did is make me think about how I was portraying the small flowers because I had just passed them by so many times, ignoring them because they are so incredibly common around where I am. The light was dull & spread out evenly and the weather cool enough that it still meant I needed to wear at least a light coat or hoodie and it kept things on the cooler side.

- Raindrops on Myosotis -
– Raindrops on Myosotis –

What the above photograph did is make it look like there was artificial light; after all, when does natural light really look like that? I can assure you that there really was no artificial light at all…It’s all organic, natural light. While I try not to get amazed by the lights of the city at night, I need them to drive during those times, but this time, during mid-day, I didn’t need city light at all, or at least not the artificial, buzzing lights that are so common. Around here, in the Pacific Northwest, bees don’t pass these flowers by and, I guess, it’s a sign that we shouldn’t either when we’re out looking for subjects for close-up & macro photography. Life’s a bit too short to be passing things by, but, at the same time, we shouldn’t be jumping over the big things just to pick at the little things around us.
When it comes to photographing after the rain, there’s a few things to take into consideration: the wetness/softness of the ground, reflections from drying surfaces, surfaces that are still wet, and the effects of light bouncing off wet/slick surfaces. Now, I’m no genius at this, and I still make more mistakes than I’d care to admit, but it’s a challenge that we might as well accept, because it brings out scenes like in the photograph above and we just might learn as we go. In this day & age, when the mainstream media continually just throws stuff our way, we (myself included) would do well to watch out for the crap and really think about what’s really important. I’m still struggling with this, but I hope that, by being completely honest here, I’m just showing that perfection in this art thing called photography doesn’t come within a lifetime, especially if honesty & humility are really at the center of it all.

 

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.

Just thinking…

Taking time to think & reflect on what we’ve become through the years is a good thing, especially when we think about the results of our decisions. The thing about it is that we all leave a legacy and it comes down to what kind of impression we want to make on those around us. Are we prepared for the fallout of our decisions? I’d be lying if I would say I’m completely prepared for the fallout, especially over the many missteps & dumb mistakes I’ve made over the years.

That’s the beauty of photography, and art in general…It gives us an outlet to express ourselves and take a break from letting the world drain us. Other things do as well (our beliefs, families, friends, etc.), but photography adds, onto that, a visually expressive outlet. I guess that’s part of the reason why a simple snapshot just doesn’t cut it for me, most of the time; why just snap & run if I can slow down & soak up a bit of what’s around me? For quite some time, I was told, by a few people, that, because I used a 5-megapixel zoom camera, I was just using a fake DSLR and was only taking snapshots; it was my outlet for photography and I’m beginning to realize that an attitude of who cares in regards to those critical opinions was justified. When moving to a DSLR, my outlet, in gear, changed, but my mind didn’t; it wasn’t dependent on gear, but craft & vision and a certain, slightly rough attitude towards the critics was somewhat warranted…the key is to take it in & grow from it, not just toss it aside. Listening to them too tightly can void any hint of photography being an outlet, something it nearly did for me, on several occasions.

Sometimes, just thinking about what’s happened along the proverbial road can be a blessing in disguise, especially when things don’t work out the way we thought they would. We, myself included, can easily get distracted by how wrong things went and then forget the good that came out of it. Past mistakes & missteps can really hurt, but they can sometimes point to a better, brighter future because they guide us along a path that can, ultimately, bring us out of the bad spot we might be in…They force us to change, or modify, what we’re doing so that we get to where we’re supposed to get to.

Intent & Expectation vs. Interpretation

Ever wonder why things don’t quite turn out in photography and why that one shot didn’t come out? For me, it’s been a long, trying road of trying to figure that out. Sometimes, we just have to believe that it wasn’t meant to be and sometimes we just need to work it out. A photograph can hold different meanings for different people and be interpreted many different ways, but the beauty in all of this is that there is impact in it once it’s done right (something I’m not always getting right…far from it). So what do we do when expectation & intent doesn’t come out? I guess what I’m trying to ask is what if what we’re trying to say with the photograph is something completely different than what is read into it and does that mean that we’ve failed??

The tough part of these questions is that the answers have a habit of turning into something that looks a lot like blame when it really might not be. For example: taking a photograph about a subject that reflects the theme of loneliness that ends up being read as being about strength when you/I mean it to be about the negative, not the positive. Sure, it’s a bit our fault because we took the shot, but it’s also about learning & making the photograph excel AND it it’s good for another reason than originally intended, then it’s not really a failure, is it? What’s really important is that we get past the ordinary in photography and strive for the extraordinary.

Bring your normalcy to the edge
And watch it drown in new horizons
New horizons
-New Horizons (Flyleaf)

Like the above lyric, from perhaps the best Rock song to hit the charts in decades, implies, get rid of normalcy and watch it being taken over by new horizons. Work at being unique and make sure that if the interpretation of your images is different than what you intended, then it at least has impact & meaning. Sometimes, making a mistake can turn out to be a blessing in disguise, like trying to construct a poster for an event and you come up empty until you just give up and start messing around with different approaches with one finally working in the end; I’ve been there too many times to count, but, in the end it’s worth it. Sometimes, it’s putting the past ‘mistakes’ behind you and deciding to just move on, but remembering them as if there might just be a lesson to learn from them.

Dodge Dart (old) Swinger logo
Dodge Dart (old) Swinger logo