For me, one of the most profound learnings through photography has been how it has changed the way I see the world around me.
Where once I just used to look at a pretty scene and think that’s nice, now I am judging the quality of light. Is it warm or cold light, which direction is it coming from, how could I use the light to craft an image (after all, photography is about capturing light)
Where I used to pay mild attention to things in my every day life, now I am constantly looking for interesting textures, interesting patterns, mixes of colors, etc. And, it’s not just when I have a camera in my hand, it’s ALL THE TIME. My vision has shifted to be constantly looking at the world around me and assessing its photographic potential. It’s a great thing for my photography, it’s even a greater thing for my life in general as I’m more observant and more connected to everything in my universe.
As I’ve matured in my photography, I’ve moved from “only shooting in the best light at the best locations” to make an image, to growing my skills, my vision, my techniques and my appreciation of all types of art to be able to create some meaningful images wherever I am, in whatever conditions.
Shooting when the conditions aren’t perfect is a skill that needs to be developed. Creativity is a “muscle” that needs to be exercised and when it’s strong, you can shoot in almost any situation and come away with some pleasing photographs. Knowing how to read the light and shooting those images that are conducive the conditions takes some practice, but it is a skill that will benefit you for years to come. No matter where you are and what the conditions are, you may find rewarding photographic opportunities.
Recently I was out of town visiting my father and decided to bring my camera “just in case” I felt the creative urge, even though a massive winter storm was forecast. In between rain showers, I had a small window of time, so I ran out to a local farm and poked around. Being it was Fall, they had pumpkins! Granted there wasn’t a “grand landscape” or “stunning light”, but that doesn’t mean I still couldn’t take creative, pleasing images. In 20 minutes of poking around the farm yard, I came away with this image as one of my favorites.
An even more extreme example of being aware of your surroundings and honing your photographic vision……..I was taking the trash can out for dad of all things and noticed that the strong winds had knocked down a bunch of leaves from the trees onto the sidewalk. As I glanced down, I noticed that the underside of the leaves were very hydrophobic and the rain drops beaded up nicely on the leaves. I stopped wheeling the can out and took a few moments to assess the photographic possibilities. Just then the rains came back, raining buckets, so I retreated inside. When the rain subsided, I grabbed my tripod and macro lens and spent 30 minutes out front of the house, along the sidewalk and lawn and shot some rewarding close-up images.
If I hadn’t told you I was out front of my dads house when I shot these images, you never would have known that I wasn’t out at some exotic forest location.
It’s all in developing and honing your vision to see photographically. There are images everywhere around us if we just open up and “see” them.
(originally published 10/17/16)