Thursday, July 30, 2009


Practiced professionals always make their work look simple.

Beginning photography class ended a few weeks ago and I'm halfway through the intermediate course. It's not an easy art to master, and I've encountered some difficulties along the way.
First of all, it's tough to find and make a great shot. I'm fine with taking hundreds of photos to end up with one or two keepers, and with the challenging experimentation involved in selecting appropriate F-stops and shutter speeds. What bothers me is knowing that every idea I have is a photography cliche.
For instance, today I took some pictures of an old, neglected graveyard. There was a path worn around the iron fence from all the other people who'd done what I was doing.
Another frustration involves the variables outside my control. Lately, the skies have been overcast. I just know I could take some great nature pictures if only the sky were a more interesting background: blue and clear, scattered clouds, or dark thunderheads. In the shot above, I decided to ignore the sky by switching to black and white.
What I have to remind myself is that, except in the case of double prints, no two pictures are exactly alike. With enough practice, I'll develop an individual perspective. Just like with writing.
While the instructional lecture portion of class is essential, I feel I learn the most from the critique portion. Hearing about and looking at successes and failures motivates me to get out there and lie in the dirt to find a good angle (see above).

The whole experience also calls to mind my freshman year on the tennis team. I had my mother's wooden racket from her college triumphs, and had to prove myself for a season before my parents would buy me a more current piece of equipment. The next year, I was half of an undefeated doubles team, and lettered each year.

Right now, I'm the only camera student limited by point and shoot equipment. I'm saving for a "real" camera, but for now I comfort myself with an anecdote told by the instructor.

Newlyweds invited their wedding photographer to dinner when he delivered their proofs.

"These pictures are amazing!" they gushed. "You must have a really expensive camera."

"This dinner is delicious; you must have some really expensive pots and pans," he quipped.

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