I’ve been finding myself wandering too much lately when it comes to photography. I am caught up in this attempt to create a fantastic photo, head out to create that photo, and end up finding myself disappointed at the end of the day. I am thinking too much. Way too much. I think I have a great location planned where I’ll get these great photos and when I get there I’m stumped. Nothing looks the way I imagined. I snap a few pics out of frustration and go home.
But it’s when I get home and look at what I shot I realize what was in my head was all wrong. What I was imagining and what I was seeing were two different things. The photos I was imagining didn’t exist. They were all in my head. The photos I was shooting, however, did exist. They were right there in front of my camera. What I did when I shot them was in the moment, whether choice of aperture, shutter, angle, etc., nothing was preconceived. I just worked off my experience, not my imagination. It’s better that way.
As I was heading out the door on my way to work this morning, I had to stop abruptly when I spotted this baby bunny on the walk in front of me with a watchful parent nearby. I could have easily walked on, they would have hopped away, and I would have continued on to work thinking nothing of it, but I decided to pause in the moment. Of course I had my camera with me and thought a picture to capture the moment was only fair. It’s no artistic achievement but the little bunny sure was cute and, for that moment, made me happy.
They hopped away and I went to work.
When I originally started this blog I was going to feature two things that I like to do – photography and play guitar, hence the name “What I Pic” which derived from “pic” as in picture and “pic” as in guitar pick. However, the guitar portion quickly took a back seat to the photography when I was posting daily my 365 images. I soon realized that it would be difficult to balance the two subjects in one blog because a reader may be interested in one subject but not the other. So photography became my sole focus of this blog. All for the better I guess since the challenge of keeping it somewhat interesting has made me a better photographer, at least I like to think so.
I’ll still dabble in guitar and music on this site but I plan on starting another blog which will focus on anything and everything that comes to my mind. And since I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination it should be another challenge that I probably do not need. Fun, nonetheless.
So, keeping with the theme, todays photo is one that I took the other morning while watching the news prior to going to work. I usually practice some unplugged guitar, watch some Morning Joe or CNN, and have some coffee for a few minutes before heading out. I liked how the guitar reflected the TV light, which was the only light, and thought I would grab a photo because I do dumb stuff like that. I actually shot a number of similar photos because whatever was on the TV screen changed the color and intensity of the reflected light. I liked the warm/cool look of this one. And because I was stuck in a chair with a guitar on my lap and a coffee by my side I took the lazy route and shot at a high ISO and wide open lens, handheld.
I take a lot of photos in cemeteries. Besides the fact that the local cemetery is the nicest place in town, landscape wise, certainly nicer than the park, I like visiting it for all of the textures and history. When I travel I actually seek out old cemeteries, the older the better. And although I am a fan of the ‘creepy’ cemetery photos I find it a challenge to take photos in them that don’t look too – uh, how can I say this – too much like a cemetery? Sure the creepy shots are cool and mysterious but I find that I’m always spending more time on details and trying to avoid the big picture.
So I thought I would show some recent photos I took at the Magnolia and Bethany Cemeteries in Charleston, South Carolina. I usually end up going with black and white photos for my cemetery shots to emphasis textures but these looked best in color. I don’t think they would work at all in black and white, so I took advantage of the bright, sunshiny day and processed for maximum color. Maybe a bit too much – I could probably tone that red down a little. . Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to explore the cemeteries in depth, I had a long drive ahead and just did a quick drive through to see the place. I grabbed a few quick shots in bad light for souvenirs, but I would have liked to really spend some time there. Maybe upon return.
These photos were taken while walking around Charleston, South Carolina on one rainy day. There’s something about being in a different city that puts me in tourist mode instead of photographer mode. My creativity just sinks and I end up leisurely shooting the sites. That’s not a bad thing, I guess, since the idea of the trip was just to get away a little and not to purposely do photography. Besides, just being with my wife and exploring new things is always a joy. But I still think of it as a missed opportunity. Of course, the almost constant rain didn’t help much. Walking around in wet flip-flops didn’t do wonders for my feet. And the only way to explore that city is by walking.
But being away from work for the past week did allow me some time to pause and think. I’ve decided I am going to simplify some things in my life. To clarify, I should say I want to simplify the way I go about doing things, my life is far from complex as it is. For instance, while walking around I realized what camera gear works best for me and what I don’t really use much. I do need a good wide-angle (24mm equivalent or wider) and a fast prime or two in the wide to moderate telephoto range and that’s about it. I have a closet full of gear that I rarely use and although I have used some of it in the past to good effect, I don’t feel the need to hang onto it. I’ll throw it on eBay and use the funds for one great lens instead of four good lenses.
I’ll do the same with my approach towards photography. I tend to shoot anything and everything, which isn’t bad, and I end up like a joker of all trades instead a master of something. I know the shots that I have done in the past that worked for me, from a creative point, and I need and want to focus on that style. I’ll still take touristy photos while on holiday, nothing wrong with that, but I’ll focus my artistic side elsewhere. I’m working towards a single cohesive look towards my work. If I ever get there, I don’t know, but it should be worth the effort at least.
A couple of automotive “portraits” for today. No fancy photography technique here – just some scenes I saw while walking around. If the architecture looks different from my usual work, it’s because these were shot in Charleston, South Carolina. I was there for only a couple of days this week and most of that was raining, heavily at times, so I couldn’t really explore as much as I wanted. But it was a most interesting and beautiful city and I hope I can spend more time there in the future. I had plans of what I wanted to shoot during my visit, everything from the beaches to the plantations, but those plans quickly diminished due to time and weather.
As for the shots. I liked the simple composition and the pop of red in the first photo. It was dusk and almost dark when I shot that one. In the second shot, I liked the decidedly European look and, again, a pop of red, this time in the shutters. Plus I’m a Porsche 928 fan. I don’t see them as much as I used to.
While I was browsing through some older files I came across some shots that I did last year of some berries. Out of about 20 different shots, I chose one I liked at the time and that was the end of it. I didn’t think about the other photos since. But while I was looking at the photos I saw that I had two shots where the camera (well, I’ll go ahead and blame the camera ) mistakenly focused on the background for the first shot and the second shot was focused on what I wanted in the first place, the berries in the foreground. I didn’t consider either shot a keeper but they still remained in my files.
But tonight I noticed that the camera position remained relatively unchanged between the two shots and I wondered if I could combine them in processing creating, essentially, a double exposure. I didn’t have to wonder too long since it was an easy thing to do. I didn’t even have to realign them. I simply change the layer style on the second shot, ran it through Nik Color Efex for some color punch, added a little vignette, and that was it. Not a great composition by any means but it did revive two long forgotten shots.
I was trying to think of what to post last night, thinking that I had no interesting photos from the weekend, when the power went out at my house. My house and the surrounding neighborhood, for whatever reason since it wasn’t storming and there wasn’t an accident that I was aware of. My electric flickered off and on just a few days earlier and was out for an evening a few weeks earlier than that. I am suspecting a kink in the works somewhere along the line.
With that, I did feel a bit of relief that I couldn’t post anything. After browsing through a number of photos nothing, and I mean nothing, caught my eye. And that was the problem, I imagine – nothing caught me eye while I was shooting, hence, nothing caught my eye afterwards. Garbage in, garbage out.
Better luck next time.
I did manage to take a photo of this really cool old garage on the south side of Pittsburgh. The owner was just locking up when I strolled by. He saw that I had my camera and said that lots of people like to photograph his garage, understandably. He said he had to go, otherwise he would let me look around inside where he had more old signs and equipment. I thanked him and said maybe I could catch him at another time. As he left I peered into the window and snapped a shot of the brush and oily machine.
Just a few roadside finds from the weekend. Nothing much in the way of interesting subject matter but it gave me a chance to work on my B&W processing skills. Old junk cars look good in black and white.
The only thing I don’t like about this first photo is the newish garage doors in the background. Kind of the ruins the “abandoned” look. But I gotta shoot ‘em where I find ‘em!