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I have been fighting it for years, but I finally relented. Look, I know that the value of light is the vocabulary of the photographer– I embrace that. I value the importance of the direction, color, intensity, quality (hardness vs. softness), the interplay of light and shadow– the elements of light. I am a dedicated student of the parameters of the proton en masse. And I am painfully aware of the mantra of the outdoor photographer, “to capture the best light you have to be there before sunrise.” But, dammit, I used to be a musician– when I witnessed daylight it was at the end of my day. And it wasn’t always pretty. Continue reading
If you follow this post, you know that it has been a rather busy time for me lately. Over the last few years, I haven’t traveled as much as in the more distant past. Typically I’ve had three or four trips a year for business and then a couple or three for pleasure. This summer has been a recent exception– NYC, Reading/Winchester England, New Orleans, and over the past three weeks Barcelona, San Francisco and then off to the mountains of Tennessee’s central basin for a week-long vacation with the family. When I’ve gone quite some time without posting, I always feel that the next post should be something big and significant. That need just seems to delay the next post even further. Instead, I decided to just go ahead and post whether it be epic or not.
Successful photographers often suggest slowing down and using a more contemplative approach to photography. I understand the value of this and can appreciate what can be achieved if you really take in the surroundings, pre-visualize the photographic result you seek, and then bring technology into harmony with the setting to put forth the vision that resides in your imagination. I also understand that almost every one of the photographs that I am proud of are a result of having my camera set properly for the surroundings and then just being alert when something happens.
That’s what occurred for the photo above. My wife and I were just hanging around Jackson Square in New Orleans checking things out when I saw this lady with a bright sunflower umbrella was about to enter the store. I knew she was just on the verge of entering the shade and the opportunity would be missed so I just whipped up my camera, focused, composed, and hoped everything was set right. In the end I’m pretty happy with the result.
Just a quick note to let you know what is going on. This promises to be a busy summer and that bodes well for photo opportunities. First of all, we have already completed a short hop to NYC (photos here…http://atterholt.com/galleries/new-york-city/). Also coming up later this summer are trips to England, and a follow up trip to Europe (possibly Italy). There will also be a brief jaunt to New Orleans in the mix. Most of the travel is for work, but I usually try to build in a day or two extra to get some photos. So watch this space for new photo galleries and blog posts over the next several months.
Why this photo? Well, because I always anchor my posts with a photo and this one just happens to relate to travel. I took it while my wife and I were on vacation in Reno. This was actually taken in Virginia City, a location with a nice quality of light. I’d like to explore this area further one day.
More to come,
There are times when I shoot a series of photographs and have an immediate fondness for a particular photograph that is not always shared by casual observers. This photo is a case in point. I immediately liked it, but it didn’t seem to hold any particular appeal to viewers when seen with other photos in a slideshow.
I vividly remember taking this. My wife and our friends were standing in line purchasing tickets to go to the top of the Rockefeller Center. I took the opportunity, thanks to their patience, to wander around when I spotted this guy in what appears to be a moment of revery or reflection. There were massive crowds where I was on the upper level; so the juxtaposition of the guy staring out across the ice in relative solitude and the two women at the table right next to him, apparently oblivious, seemed to provide a frame for his moment.
I also liked the balance of light and shadows above left as a counterpoint to the more contrasty and detailed lower right. The angled hand rail and the delineation of the shadowed area on the ice further define the difference between the two zones and drives the eye through the photo. Since the guy is the only element that occupies both sectors of the photo, it brings more attention to him, in my mind.
Did I take all of this into consideration when I took this photograph, of course…not. When I looked down at this scene I was just immediately interested in what was going on there. It said something to me about a moment in the lives of people. So I shot it.
Why black and white? I have never taken a photography class in college and was never a member of the “if it’s not B&W, it’s not art” crowd. But I have been a fan of great B&W photos even if I view it as just another technique. In my own photography I have wondered how to decide when a photo should be in color and when it shouldn’t. I’ve naturally evolved a sense that if the photo has merit but the colors aren’t working toward the intent of the photo, I try it in B&W. If that works better, I go with it.
So do I abandon this photo if it doesn’t appear to have mass appeal? As much as I’d like to have as many people enjoy my photos as possible, the fact that I value it is enough. I may revisit it in a few years and make changes or reassess my opinion; but that’s okay. It’s all part of the process.
Here’s another shot that I took in New Orleans. What attracted me to this set of shutters was the repeating pattern broken by the one detached slat. What I hadn’t seen until I reviewed the photos on my computer was the optical illusion. Because of the angle of the shot, the photo looks a bit like it’s taller on the right side than the left.
This is another shot I wanted to do something with but just couldn’t seem to bring out what I wanted. I felt there was some merit to it, but couldn’t do it justice. I’m a little happier with its current incarnation, just not totally pleased yet.
Hey, that’s what I like about the arts (music, photography) it’s a constant struggle to manifest your efforts into a work that “feels right”. How often do I accomplish that? If I had to quantify it, I’d say about 0.05 % of the frames that I shoot are photos that I am pretty proud of. Sure, that success rate would get you canned quickly if you were a pilot or a surgeon, but for me every failed shot is just another rung up the ladder. Someone once said that every photographer has about 50,000 bad photographs in them, so it’s best to get them out of the way as soon as possible. Based on that I’m well on my way.
So I continue– reading, learning, practicing, shooting, thinking, reading some more. I sometimes feel that there is a big truth out there for me in photography. And I wonder if I am too involved in the busyness of researching and delving into the details to miss the profound truth of what I seek to put forth.
Kinda like life, huh?