Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Shooting More – Posting Less

(Please click on the thumbnail for the larger version)

We are up here in the clouds today. It’s cold, windy, and—for much of the morning—visibility has been only a memory.

Many photographers thrive on rainy days and can’t wait to get out and about with their cameras. I tend to get reflective. That has always been my pattern. I’m sure it has to do with having lived, all my life, in sunny climes with long stretches of rain being an anomaly, rather than the norm. Raindrops on my window pane make me want to sit quietly—maybe with a hot drink, to contemplate the light filtering through the water while allowing my mind to wander aimlessly about—picking up and discarding random threads of thought that meander into focus.

This morning I have been thinking about where I am with photography (as well as the election—well, who hasn’t been thinking about the latter.) Lately, I have been taking more pictures than I ever have. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t have my camera out and working, and could post a photo-a-day with only rare lapses. Yet, I am posting a smaller and smaller percentage of my shots. It’s partly about distractions and finding time to put up posts, but mostly it’s about my dissatisfaction with what I produce. Yes, I am slowly improving technically. I have fewer shots that are woefully under or over-exposed. My horizon lines are more consistently straight. Even though my progress is slow and frustrating, I see some small improvement in compositions. The problem is that my technical skills grow at a pace that lags woefully behind that of my ambitions. Shots that I would have happily posted even six months ago dishearten me now.

My choice is to continue posting images that I am not happy with, because I refuse to give myself permission to hide and wait, until I am ready before I post my photos. I know well that dark side of my nature—the part of me that wants to wait until I have something that I'm proud of, before I make it public. From the beginning, the reason for this blog was to thwart that dark side. Posting in spite of my disappointments with what I have shot is a form of discipline for me. It motivates me to take a closer look at the shots I take and short-circuits the impulse to dump the entire card in disgust and disappointment. Looking at the shots and forcing myself to choose the best of the sorry lot encourages me to acknowledge my small steps forward and that motivates me to keep trying.

Fortunately for me, while my resolve to persevere waivers, it shows no signs of a full breakdown. Continuing to post pictures that clearly reveal my work-in-progress standing is making me stronger.


  1. Anita. It's good that you keep on shooting. That's the fun part.

    I love to talk, and blogging is an extension of that. Although I love to talk, I do have my limits. I will shut down after a short while, say 45 minutes. :-) I just go kind of silent.

    I think that the combination of blogging and photographing is symbiotic, at least in my case. I use the pictures to add a bit of spice to the words; perhaps it's not exactly symbiotic, maybe the relationship only goes one way. I use the blog to support the pictures. :-) I'm not sure. Either way, it's fun!

    I think that the more that you post, say one per day, the more you'll learn about yourself, your process, and your photography ... but don't put to much into it. Feel your way through, don't think about it much. Thinking, especially where art is concerned, is very overrated and detrimental. I think that art should be felt. (There I go getting in touch with my very large feminine side again!).

    Lastly, remember, you are posting for Anita, not for anyone else. Put up a few of the not-so-pleasing ones. You'll come to find out that sometimes, you feel differently about the picture, depending on how you feel for the day.

    I love to read your stories and look at your pictures and I hope that you keep pumping them both out in large measure. I'm just selfish that way!

  2. Paul - Wise words, as usual, and thank you for the encouragement to keep going. I especially appreciate the reminder to write here for Anita and to post some of the photos I am not happy with. At any rate, I am pretty much here to stay—determined to keep plugging away at it.

  3. For me photography first and foremost is about seeing. Enjoying or even hating what is in front of us and then invoking an emotion..

    This is the first image, a lot like a camera obscura captured on the back of or retinas. The camera can never really render what has recorded in our memory as the brain already does a lot of post processing that we are not even aware of.

    As photographic artist the challenge becomes how to translate onto paper or screen the emotions and thoughts we had when we stood in front of the subject. Not an easy task.

    Look at colour theory and the apparent change in colour perceived weight when different colours are used but the size of the squares remain the same.

    This is where we use tools first in camera (DOF, focus, angle, focal length) to modify reality. Then with post processing to further enhance or retard objects to bring to life on paper our thoughts.

    I have enjoyed all your images at the level of emotion you have wished to convey.

    Every image can be good, but this does not mean it would work on a cover or ad in a magazine, or as fine art in a gallery or for every person.

    In my painting journey I came across this quote which I plan to use in one of my articles when it fits, but I thought I would share it with because I just love this quote.

    The ability to simplify
    means to eliminate the unnecessary
    so the necessary may speak

    Hans Hofamnn ( German painter 1880-1966)

    This sure applies to what we do with our cameras.

    Niels Henriksen

  4. Niels, thanks for the comment—loads of good thoughts (as always) and I love the quote. Thanks for "previewing" it here.


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