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.

In odd places & spaces…

Over the last few weeks, working on a personal photography project, I’ve often wondered just how much we miss by not stopping for a while to explore small things in tiny spaces when we’re out in nature. I mean, thinking about it as I was out this weekend, photographing the local botanical gardens, I began to look around at spots I wouldn’t naturally stop to take the odd photograph, let alone somewhere between 10-20 shots of a small scene no bigger than the size of a car tire. For me, I guess, stopping to examine a tiny scene makes me think that much harder when trying to photograph it, especially without a macro lens, but life doesn’t always give us a chance for a redo, or the granting of wishes to have more gear right away, so I worked with what I had.

- Greens -
– Greens –

Does the above photograph achieve that? It did at the point of capture and, after some minor refinements (Clarity & Noise among them), it comes out as a scene that at least inspires me to look a bit closer at scenes I normally would usually, and normally pass up. In a way, it inspires me to stop, look & listen (metaphorically of course) to see what how my vision is doing when it comes to photography. Will it inspire others to get out there? Maybe…I sure hope so. Will it inspire like a good song? Probably not even close, but that’s okay because I’m not trying to beat someone else to it…I’m just trying my best to inspire. The way I figure it, the Creator’s given us a beautiful planet to live on and we’ve mucked it up, but there’s still a few good spots to get out & explore.

- White Trumpet Call -
– White Trumpet Call –

Perhaps that’s why I tend to gravitate towards peaceful scenes: there’s less noise & chaos surrounding me when I’m there. Maybe because it’s such a crazy world that a little peace & quiet goes a long way, maybe it’s because there’s so much shallowness out there in the media, but, either way, a little peace & quiet goes a long way in today’s world of shallow never-ending glitz & glamor. There’s so much out there that really has not much of any meaning to it, so why add to it? I’ll end this post with a song suggestion, a song that is quite inspiring, at least to me, and one to sing to: Grace Alone written by Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue (Kings Kaleidoscope performs this one just right on their album, Becoming Who We Are).

Thoughts…

Color can be a tricky thing to get right when photographing various subjects; I can just hear the gearheads saying that all that’s needed is the latest camera. While that’s nowhere near the truth for the most part because there’s usually a way to achieve it through the use of computer programs, correct filters, or even cleaning the glass; it’s more so about interpretation into a workable file for printing. We’re supposed to be translating what we felt when we took the shot, not necessarily transliterating it; like life, photography is all about feeling, not tired formulas.

In life, we get stuck when we get the two mixed up (transliteration vs. translation), because we forget to bring across what something makes us feel…I’m so at fault for this most of the time as well. Most of the time, we can’t just say “here you go” and then just leave it at that; for me, at least, it doesn’t quite work that way because, half of the time at least, I want to know why, or at least some attempt at the answer to my questions. There’s so much out there that has literally no depth to it (i.e. pop culture), so why intentionally add to the noise? This is one of the things I end up struggling with because I don’t really want to be adding to the noise, but inspiring someone.

In the end, for me at least, the biggest reason I began this blog was to not only air out the odd grievance or two, but try to reach out & inspire someone…by my photography or otherwise. I’m not one for making a point too quickly, so most of the time, these posts turn into a rambling rant and, maybe they do add to the noise, but I at least hope that they add to it in a positive way. The idea that color can easily be transliterated in a photograph instead of translated just right does get me at least a bit upset, mostly because I’m so guilty of this, and doing this can easily make something uninspiring, but that’s my personal opinion; it’s one that I can’t necessarily flesh out in an argument or debate, so I’m just going to leave it at that. So, get out there & inspire!

- Tree & Flowers -
– Tree & Flowers –

What’s up with the noise…

Looking at what’s out there in terms of blogs, advice columns, how-to books, get-rich-quick books, I’ve come to realize that the one thing most of them lack is the idea that the heart matters. There’s some great ones out there that do just that, focus on meaning, and that’s what we all need more of, especially where technique & meaning cross because, if they don’t, then we tend to loose ourselves and photography falls flat. I’m totally far from perfect in this way, so take what I’m about to say knowing that I’m no angel either.

Photo = technique + craft + heart

Now that the math’s out of the way, thank goodness for that, we should always be striving for meaning, not just in life in general, but in the photographs we take. For myself, if I can’t portray the beauty of nature in my nature shots, then I begin to see that I’m losing at least some kind of meaning in what I’m getting a shot of. Now, to be clear, that doesn’t mean oversaturating the colors & editing the crap out of the shot, but it does mean paying close attention to the interplay between colors, tones & form in each scene. I know I’ve done this topic many times before, but sometimes, all this stuff just adds to the noise, detracting from us keeping our minds open to really concentrating on the meaning of what we’re trying to say with our photographs.

- Tiny Strands -
– Tiny Strands –

The above photograph really communicated the message of reaching for something with caution because of the way some of the petals extended themselves. Now, if my craft & technique wasn’t all that great, this shot wouldn’t have come out anywhere near what it did, especially color & noise wise. For me, Clarity (localized contrast) has become a key point in how I see things while editing because it’s a tidier tool/slider than contrast with its less drastic control, allowing for better fine tuning either on the positive side or the negative side.

Shutting up…

Okay, so this title’s a bit harsh, but the statement rings true when everyone’s chiming in on what they want you to do, instead of letting you listen for that guiding voice that will tell you where you should go and what shot you should get. Personally, getting too many voices saying different things is really confusing no matter what the task at hand is. In photography, the problem with so many different opinions is that it can get quite confusing…I’ve mentioned it before, I know.

With so many different lenses for so many different subjects, there’s varying opinions on which matters, prime lenses (one fixed focal length) or telephoto/zoom lenses (varying focal lengths), for every different subject under the sun. The issue I have with this is that we end up getting the typical shot and think that’s all we can do because we’re supposed to use only one type of lens and not another. Following this rule/opinion logically, this means that there an really not be any vastly different takes on the same scene that are deemed as acceptable; this is basically photography’s version of tech snobbery because it’s basically saying that you/I can’t get the shot because we don’t have a particular lens.

So the point of what is quickly becoming a rant is pretty simple: watch & listen to what the varying opinions are on photography, but somehow make your own informed opinions without stomping on others’ own opinions. The hardest part about this is that there is just so much noise out there that just won’t shut up; it takes time to sort it all out, something I’m still doing, because it doesn’t really go away, but there’s always flip side to the argument in photography and it’s up to us to figure out what exactly it is. Informed decisions about what to shoot are great, but if you’re just taking your first few shots, work at it and try different things to see which works best for you.