That ol’ list…

Pondering what makes me do the things I do, and the way I do them, not to mention why I do them, often gets me either annoyed, or gives me a bit of a headache. I guess that’s a part of not really being an A to B kind of person and not always following a straight line in how I do things, but sometimes I think that I’d have it no other way. Nowadays, we’ve got students coming out of university without the ability to have any critical thinking or allow for anything with even the slightest difference in point of view, so I think that being able to go from A to C in some instances might be a good thing, but we need to be careful that it doesn’t become something we do in every instance.

With that said, I usually make lists for what I going to do before I go out photographing some thing or place, but I end up tossing out most of it…For me, it’s really only a suggestion list after all. Sometimes it helps to have a plan, but sometimes it can also restrict us from getting what we’re planning to get. In life, we want structure and normality, but when it all falls apart, we tend to blame it all on something or someone else, instead of looking up for help. It’s like that when we follow rules to the dot, becoming legalistic in how we approach life; it however can leave us drained when what we’re trying to achieve takes long or seems way out of reach. For me, when I going to a place for the express purpose of photographing it, I’m definitely going to make a mental checklist, not just of what to photograph, but what settings at which to photograph it; it all in what I choose to keep and how I adapt to changing circumstances because going with the flow sometimes brings out a photograph or more that says something and means something.

- Hibiscus Three -
– Hibiscus Three –

In the end, it basically comes down to meaning something with what we do, and what we photograph, because if there’s no meaning, then it sometimes doesn’t really carry any weight in the long run. With all this international rhetoric being passed around, we need to be the people that carry some semblance of decency and do something that means something. I may not always be able to do just that, but I’m at least going to try to raise awareness by doing something that means something to someone.

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Third law of thermo-what?

With so many people protesting one thing or another out there, and myself sitting here, listening to some music, I’ve come to wonder what the big deal is over the rule of thirds. I figure, that with all the craziness out there, I might as well protest something while not getting too serious about the violent protests out there & getting myself all worked up. I might as well get started small and protest the rule of thirds and just how much it makes many photographs staid & unimaginative…when followed for no real purpose & meaning; it’s kind of like protesting just for the sake of protesting, or because we’re paid to do it.

So, what does it really mean, the rule of thirds, and how does it really apply in this day & age of a do-anything-type of culture? It’s about the placement of the subject at one of the four corners of the frame, but, with a do-anything-type of culture, rules are getting thrown out; eventually it might come to the point that the rule of thirds will be thrown out too. Personally, it’s more of a principle because if a photograph needs impact, this can only really be a helpful suggestion, not a rule; don’t throw it out, just learn from it. The third law of thermodynamics is about energy and while I really get confused trying to figure it out, mostly because I really suck at math, I get just as confused as to why the rule of thirds is so highly praised when, at its heart, it’s about putting energy & interest back into the photograph, and then treated as if it must be followed.

Sometimes we get caught up with the so-called rules of art/creativity that we drain it of anything of worth. By doing that, we tend to also drain it of any meaning and/or message, especially because art then becomes about following rules, not saying something through creative means; it loses its soul as a result. I’m totally guilty of this at the best of times, but I hope I’m making good while I try to get away from this.

A simple edit…

The last post was about all the bull we have to get past and it sure did turn into a rant, but I’m kind of glad it did, because it got a lot of things off my chest. Whether we’re thinking life or photography, we’ve got a lot of noise, or bull, to get through before we find what we even think we’re looking for. It could be that special something, or someone, or even a certain song, album or way of doing things, but either way, it’s something that will stick out at us when we’ve found it, right? Not all of the time, but most, if we’re paying attention or even just looking around for whatever it is. It might not show up right away, or it might seem as if it’s passed us by, but there’s always something we’re looking for.

- Food -
– Food –

It’s like the above photograph, for example, because, without the edit, or refinement, the bird mixed in a little too well into its surrounding environment; all I did, after tonal & noise adjustment, was bring it out with the adjustment brush in Lightroom. Sure, that might be making the bird lighter than it came out initially, but that is, after all the adjustments, the way it was when I first saw it. I had only a few seconds to respond in order to capture it and it worked out alright for me; life is like that, sometimes we miss an event if we’re not looking directly for it, or we remember it differently, but it comes and we’ve got to figure it out before it passes us by. It stinks when it passes us by, or at least seems to pass us by. We tend to think that once it’s passed us by, it’s gone, but we forget that we’re often given at least another chance to get something right. The analogy of the photograph may be tenuous, but it somewhat works for me; I say somewhat because I tend to want to visualize something, especially if it’s an analogy.

Picking up on the last post, it’s no wonder we see people leaving their traditions behind as a way to get past all the bull, even though the bull has nothing to do with tradition; I figure it’s because we’ve begun to think of them as empty ritual, and, in this current societal atmosphere, it’s a quick fix we’re after, not something that may have been tried, tested & true. In the field of photography, it’s the idea that principals are rules and should be discarded completely; while I think that’s not really true of principles, in photography, they should be held as helpful guidelines that can really improve how we capture a scene, subject or mood. We need to find a way that makes us do something that matters, not just for ourselves, but for others.

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.

The ‘Rule of Thirds’

One of the first ‘rules’ that is usually brought up in photography classes/courses is the Rule of Thirds; this is when the frame is divided into a 3×3 grid and object(s) of interest are better placed at the intersection of the grid lines. The reasoning behind this is that the human eye likes dynamic compositions that aren’t static or stale, but it also has the effect of restricting a landscape shot to either one with 66% sky or 66% ground. It can produce some amazing photographs of landscapes & some of the best portraits (with the eyes lining up with the gridlines), but with only a single object on a mostly blank background, it also has the effect of not being able to hold the viewer’s attention for very long. To make matters even more complex, there’s also the Golden Ratio & Fibonacci Spiral, more variations of this and they’re all based on math; it’s like math decided to invade art.

I’d rather not get into the math & reasoning behind this (it’ll make my head hurt, and yours as well), so I’ll keep it simple; research them on the Web if you want to learn more. While they are extremely useful, the Rule of Thirds, Golden Ratio & Fibonacci Spiral are principles & guidelines, not set-in-stone rules, unless you want your photography to be predetermined for you by some rules set forth by mathematicians who most likely never really picked up a camera before making up the rules. I’d rather ‘feel’ for the image while keeping these principles in mind, knowing that the world won’t end if I suddenly stop going by them. The basic rule/principle is this: take the shot if it works, but work not from a set of rules, but from what your brain is telling you. Rules can’t replace vision and still produce a meaningful photograph…That’s just nuts…

Memorial South Park Nuts

What gives!?

Sorry folks, but no photograph this time. I’ve been thinking (yes, I know that can be dangerous) that there might just be something to this hobby I call photography. You see, for me, it serves as a kind of release from the daily grind and it makes me actually get off my butt and do exercise; it makes me actually look at things in more of an artistic way. For me, this is especially good, because my math skills are utterly horrible (thankfully, there are calculators). Photography, at least for me, puts the sense of wonder back in me when I see a scene that takes my breath away.

It’s not about following some rule (the ‘rule of thirds’ is more like a principle to me), it’s about feeling, thought & vision when going for that photograph. When the scene puts that sense of wonder in you, it’s basically telling you to stop and take a breather; if you’ve got your camera with you, it’s also telling you to take the shot…It just might help inspire you later on when you feel down. And the most serene shot in the world is bound to literally get you to stop in your place in complete awe & wonder!

Photography should be like the one song that makes you stop and just soak it up; it may not always be that way, but it gets better. It’s like the lyrics to one of the best songs of 2014 (in my honest opinion), by Flyleaf, called Home: “Every chance we take will lead us/Through the unknown/Home.” So take a while for yourself, get that camera and go for a stroll just to get out there!

Take that chance…