Monday, January 24, 2011
Why I Love Drive-By Photography—Duds and All
It's a fact that drive-by photography is guaranteed heartburn if you are hard on yourself. You have to have the stomach for stress, if you agonize over dud after dud when editing files.
I deleted most of the pictures from this session and almost dumped the one above. You may be wondering what changed my mind. It's more than a bit soft. (You bet that's what all that processing is about.) Furthermore, the framing is not what I had hoped for. When I began editing the files, the less than stellar results did not surprise me. Not only was there a distinct haze over the landscape that afternoon, I was in the passenger seat of a vehicle traveling 75 MPH when I took the photograph. Under those conditions, I didn't have my heart set on a stack of outstanding images. But, I was going to be stuck in the passenger seat for at least an hour, and enjoying the feel of a camera in my hands made the trip more enjoyable. Later, when editing the folder I tried to pass by this photo, but something kept pulling me back. Will this one go in my top 10 for 2011? Goodness, I hope not. But, what the heck, it pleases me today, and I am my number one customer.
Regardless of the outcome of a photo-taking session, I enjoy the process from beginning to end. And, for me, that's what this is all about. The moment of seeing is the greatest joy. The sound of the shutter is profoundly satifying and marks the definitive moment of connection with my surroundings. (Yes, I am a simple person.) Just seeing the light on the subject and pressing the shutter fills my heart with joy, even if I format the card before I get home. If I end up with a photograph that I like from a drive-by session, I am always surprised and count it as a welcome bonus.
I once received a comment from someone who didn't see much point in what I call "drive-by photography". He felt that if the subject wasn't worth stopping for, getting out the tripod, and setting up the shot, why bother?
I "bother" for three reasons. One, I continue to learn by taking photographs. Yes, even bad photographs. Two, and more importantly, making pictures—even if I do not capture the feeling evoked by what I saw—the joy of seeing and shooting makes me happy. Three, I know that I have occasionally been ridiculously lucky in the worst of conditions and gotten a photograph that I quite like . And, even when a photo that I am drawn to calls for a major intervention, that's okay by me. I genuinely enjoy tinkering in Photoshop. Why post the picture? I enjoy the sharing aspect as well. Let's face it, life includes its share of disappointments, drudgery, and hardship. I relish all moments of delight, large and small.