Just do it

Not too long ago I was posting comments upon a Flickr account belonging to a gentleman who takes exceptional photos of nature. Besides the usual “Gorgeous photo,” type comments I had also, on occasion, stated how lucky he was to have such a great place to take pictures. It was as if nature had rained down upon him the blessings of beautiful and abundant scenery such that all he had to do was walk out his door, point his camera in any direction, press the shutter release button, and voila: instant gorgeous image.

I hated him.

Eventually there sprang from my commentary some e-mails from him discussing how it comes to be that he gets these incredible shots. He also states how it would appear that I too have some wonderful places where I could be taking pictures and went through the bother to send me the URLs for a few public parks in my general area. I must say I was both excited and depressed. Excited because he took the time to see through my commentary (to get to what I was really saying) and depressed because he helped expose me to myself.

His communication helped me to see how I was being self-defeating. This self-defeating nature comes as no surprise to me as I am, no doubt, more of the “Glass is half-empty,” sort. And there are other things that have been going on in my life of late that have helped fuel the fire of this self-defeating nature. His thoughtful words helped me to see that I didn’t have to continue with my self-defeating nature, but more importantly the insights he provided helped propel myself into thinking that I’m not creating total rubbish here. Clearly this photography lark, if I want to be better at it, requires work and that what appears to be done so effortlessly on sites like his is actually a lot of hard work and experience gained over years of involvement in photography.

Armed with inspiration from his kind and thoughtful communications I vowed to work harder at this photography thing. And inspiration came to my aid the other day when I was walking out of my local Best Buy and saw the most glorious sunset I have seen in some time (other than through images on Flickr – we’re talking in-person here). While there wasn’t enough time to run home and grab my camera kit I promised to venture forth the next evening and capture some of the wonder that is the late evening sky around here.

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And you know what happened? It was rubbish! But that’s okay. The sky the night before had been clear of clouds, yet looked to be ablaze in a light that could pierce your brain. Of course, a photograph taken from the Best Buy would have been awful, what with the parking lot, light polls and other businesses on the horizon. So the next night I adjourned to another local spot where I thought I might be able to capture the glory of the setting sun. But it didn’t go that well as evidenced by the image above. The tall corn was in the way of the horizon. The sun too low already. And there is no place around here that doesn’t have a large outcropping of trees within 1,000 yards (no flat and tree-less plains around here!). But I remain undeterred. I enjoyed the experience. I hope I gained a modicum of knowledge from the excursion. And I managed a few decent pictures, but nothing to get excited about.

Again, based in no small part upon the advice and inspiration supplied by the most-kind gentleman, I sought a new place to take pictures and settled upon John Bryan State Park (Ohio), which came recommended to me by my fav salesperson at my local camera store. This too was an episode of mixed results.

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I trekked about the park, always uncertain of where I was as I had not procured a map of the park’s hiking trails, in search of something interesting to photograph. The truth is that I didn’t find that much in the great scheme of things. Being at the end of a long and rather rainless summer the Little Miami River, which runs through the park, was very low and subsequently rather boring. In addition, the summer foliage goes far in blocking views of various things (the river, rock outcroppings, etc.) that may have been of interest to photograph. Furthermore, where the hiking trails ran close to the river one couldn’t get down to the bank to try any photography as there were signs posted all over the place asking folks to stay on the trail. And finally, the park was rather busy that particular Sunday and as such the wildlife (mostly birds, squirrels and chipmunks) was rarely spotted thanks to the heavy foot traffic and more noisy of the visitors.

But this too didn’t get to me, too much.

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I told myself when I first arrived at the park that I would spend time just looking around and take only a few photos (which I did). This was mostly a recce trip to put into my brain ideas for future visits. It’s all about putting in some work. Some patience. Giving things time to happen, but never giving up. Getting to intimately know the places where you like to shoot so that you can make the most of each visit. So maybe I have learned something of late…..and that feels good.

Thanks John.

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5 thoughts on “Just do it

  1. This sounds like a breakthrough. Free of self-defeating, you see more things. Aim, frame, and press the shutter release button.

    And although the sunset you photographer might not be the best for you, I love the high cloud formations. And that last photograph is fantastic.

    Cheers,
    Wouter

  2. I agree with Wouter above! I just want to suggest something that perhaps you already do. In all your posts you talk about looking for a sunset or insects or …. you tend to have a specific shot in mind. I rarely do. My best photos come from

    1) keeping my camera ready when I can
    2) not making excuses to miss a photo (I’ll get the photo when I come back etc. is a mistake I’m prone to make==something changes the shot almost every time)
    3)being open to the photos that are there, not trying to shoot one that you wish was there i.e. take a photo of the tiny frog at your feet not keep looking for a bear image.

    Having said that, your photos are very good and mayhap you just are too hard on yourself! I think you often have a photo in mind and don’t appreciate the quality images you do capture.

  3. Ah Kym….you have definitely struck upon a very valid and particular point. I do tend to go out looking for a specific type of shot. I use this methodology mostly because I don’t find myself experiencing sufficient flow of creative juices to capture great images on the fly, so to speak.

    It is quite clear, when viewing a variety of images from folks on Flickr, that many people ‘see’ things for their creative potential. I, on the other hand, am rather unlike that. It doesn’t mean that I don’t (sometimes) chance upon a good photo, but it’s rare. I’m rather linear in thought and while it serves me well in many of my endeavors is is something of an impediment to the creative side, the Art side (if you will) of photography.

    And if you-know-who says anything about my use of “Art” I’ll…..

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