A walk through the gardens (Part 2)…

Getting back to the idea of a walk through the gardens, I’ve wondered what the cost of just putting aside my preconceived notions of what gardens should be; I go through the gardens expecting to see colors of a certain type & form, look for flowers that bloom a certain way, but do I really look at the gardens as they are or how they make me feel? At its core, photography should be about emotion, feeling, inspiration & impact, not just how something fits into preconceived notions & ideas. Sometimes, on a walk through the gardens, I’ve got to learn to slow down and really feel what the scene in front of me is saying or the way I photography it might just be way too shallow to be of any good use. For example, when I see a flower in bloom, am I seeing just the flower or how the colors of its bloom interact & contrast with the rest of the scene and what does it say to me?

- Moss in Battle -
– Moss in Battle –

The above photograph was of a scene I’ve only recently started paying attention to in the gardens over the last few months, even though I’ve passed by it for years; every year, the moss seems to crawl over this tree and this spot in particular, but when I first spotted it some months ago, it looked like a cloud creeping in over some kind of field, reminding me of an ever-encroaching fog in some battle in a fantasy story. However, this moss seems to be less malevolent than the fog of battle or darkness and it almost seems to be the exact opposite…I guess the green color of it has something to do with that. What gets me paying more attention to it is that I’ve come to remember the spot so that I look up & see it, I’ve come to slow down and take in the scene in front of me as I walk through the gardens, and I’m learning to take it all in & push my preconceived notions/ideas aside when doing so. When it comes to a walk in the gardens, looking back at this photograph, it’s about just being in the moment when I take the shot and not letting a preconceived plan get in the way.
I know I’ve said that going for a walk through the gardens is more about going without a planned course of action and I’m beginning to realize that it’s about more than that: it’s about being in the moment while not letting secular society & all the worries come flooding into my mind to distract me. I know the Creator’s given me one life to live and I know that I’m meant for so much more, so I don’t think that letting society get to me is going to help all that much at all. This time, a walk through the garden is going to help refresh  my mind, allowing the Creator to speak to me, guiding me, as I walk through it all.

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Gesture & meaning…

I’ve been thinking about what it really means to have meaning & gesture in my photography. How do I relate to the scene? What does the scene say to me? What does the entire scene mean? Gesture, I think, is more than just how a living subject looks at the camera because it’s about expression in the end; it’s about how the gesture of the subject looks in the scene. Meaning comes out of how we compose using colour  (or not) and what the scene ‘says’ to me and what it possibly ‘says’ to others; like when I was out photographing birds at a local conservatory, it’s how the animals stare into the camera AND what they are doing as they look into the camera & scene. It doesn’t take a professional to do this…It takes a love for photography & the scene in front of us to get this done, and we don’t always get it right the first time.

- Questioning Bird -
– Questioning Bird –

The scene above obviously includes gesture because of how the bird is looking at the camera with some food in its mouth; it’s as if the bird is asking me why on earth would I want to bother it while it’s eating just to get a shot. The background behind the shot is pretty simple: I was trying out a different way of approaching something with different gear and I wanted to see how I could handle the small, fist-sized birds on the first go. I wanted to see what I learned over the years to see if indeed I had really improved at all; for me, it was about analyzing my approach and seeing if I could really get something decent in it. While it was gently refined in Lightroom (which I hope gets a post-Christmas update soon), it was about the story of a bird feeding and a photographer disturbing it; that’s the meaning behind it.
To an extent, photography really isn’t about what level we’re at (professional, amateur, or hobbyist), but it’s about how we pursue it; it’s about how much we care for what we’re photographing. Inspiration comes with caring, or at least that’s how I understand it; we’re called to take care of the world around us and we’ve all mucked it up badly, but through photography we can give a shot of a specific moment in time to someone else and inspire them. A photographer, by a decent definition, is someone who takes photographs for the love of it & to inspire, not just someone who does it as a paying job or career with expensive gear & possibly massive debt.
Gesture & meaning come through in a photograph when we put them there, choosing to include what makes the shot, when we make the photograph. How do we put them there? We put them there by watching the scene and being ready to capture what we believe the scene is saying to us. The photograph above may seem like nothing more than chance to me, but it was a result of waiting for it to unfold, moving around & watching the birds in the conservatory go about their lives (and me ducking when they left droppings while flying around). In the end, gesture & meaning help to inspire, and that’s what I’m at least trying to strive for.

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.

Stuck in the depths…

It’s probably one of the worst feelings, being surrounded and wanting to say something, but you can’t, or you feel like you just can’t seem to find the right words…Not just with our photographs, but with our lives. We’re all looking for something important, something that will make us feel something other than stranded without hope. I’m not talking about the greater picture here, but the smaller one; why not do something that positively lights up the moment?

The hardest thing is really doing something that matters, especially for someone else. I mean, why worry about the world when you’ve got so many things going on yourself? Sometimes, spreading a little cheer is all it takes, letting someone know you’re there for them, giving a shoulder to lean on. In photography, the closest thing I can think of off of the top of my head would be sharing a photograph (without bragging about how it was taken) that would make a person smile who hasn’t smiled in a long time because it could just take that one image to brighten them up. After all, isn’t it doing something that matters to someone that really matters in the end?

- Lily Pad Flower -
– Lily Pad Flower –

The last verse of the song Words In The Water (by Thrice) ring true because when we decide to shine a little light in someone’s direction, it brightens their day and can help them get out of the funk they’re in. The song may mean something greater, but even just applying it to the little acts of kindness or brightening up some’s day, it still works. When we, or they, are stuck in the depths, shining a little light helps, no matter how big or how small when it comes from the heart. The problem we all have (myself included) is that we sometimes have a difficulties doing just that because, in this day & age we’re so focused inwards on ourselves.

What it means…

When it comes to life & photography, it’s like we can’t get out of what mainstream society wants us to be like: buy this, do that, accept everything, and don’t look up. It gets annoying to the point that we forget what it really means; we buy in to the rampant materialism and abide by the set rules of society, forgetting that there’s something more than meets the eye. It’s like we forget about the past and repeat the same mistakes over & over by not really learning to be creative in what we see & do when it comes to expressing ourselves the way we were meant to.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Taking pictures of the small birds at the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Vancouver helps remind me that there’s more than just the latest gear to be had. Because it takes patience & sometimes stubbornness to not give up on capturing them, it forces me to slow down and appreciate what I’ve got already. It doesn’t always help when they fly past you & their small wings brush against your ears, but it mentally wakes you up & it can help put you in the moment by making you away of your surroundings. The beauty of being lost in the moment while photographing something is that we forget about making the technical and end up focusing on the emotional aspects of it all…It’s when vision takes over, or at least the feeling of the moment.

It means that sometimes focusing on the moment in time, with the camera out, and letting vision & intent come to the forefront. It means that there is something more than just the technical and it comes out with each photograph; sure, the photographs we get during these times might not be more than a 1 or 2 out of 5, but they’re filled with more emotion & impact than just the technical. So get out there, stay safe, and speak through the image; watch your surroundings for danger and make sure you’re not letting the technical get too important, something I’m not always good at.

On taking the time…

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted something and I’m starting to wonder if I’m just taking too much time in doing up a post, but then life just gets in the way and I’ve nearly forgotten about it. When I think about it, I’ve never really gone too in-depth on any specific topic for too long and I try to keep it simple, but sometimes just taking the time to do just that is all I really need. With the hockey playoffs starting on Wednesday, there’s one thing I’ll be tuning in to, thanks to internet radio…I’m just not one to watch the local stuff.

Getting back to taking time…In photography, it’s all about capturing that moment, not just that scene and to do just that, you’ve got to take the time to get it right. Like with the photograph of the forget-me-not flowers in the previous post, it takes a bit of time to get to that point where you can get that shot you want. It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I can get even remotely close to getting a good shot of the small flowers, mostly because of patience & skill; it’s something that does take time and something that you sometimes have to force out into the open or it might never get used because you/I need to be deliberate in how we go about taking photographs, not just always shooting from the hip, so to speak.

The beauty of waiting is often missed because the camera only takes a single ‘snapshot’ of that moment at a time, but it’s about capturing the moment and sometimes going with your gut that allow for just the right shot to come about. It’s about practicing and working on your methods to get to the spot where you can rely on that little voice to let you know when to grab that shot. I’ve not always been able to do just that, so for me, at least, it’s like an on-off switch that won’t stay in one place because it sometimes doesn’t speak up at all and, at other times, it just won’t shut up. So the best thing to do, in my opinion, should be to listen for that voice and/or take some practice shots along the way…Take the time for it to improve.