Take Your Best Shot

May 03, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I am constantly looking for my next "best shot".  Thinking of subjects, places or events - where and when to go to find that image that stirs the heart, evokes some emotion or just makes you think.  However, I was reminded the other day, by a friend, that we often forget to "look in our own backyard" for photo opportunities.  Sadly, that is true.  We are surrounded by art that we seldom recognize, whether natural or man-made.  

When I first laid my hands on a camera, everything was my subject.  I saw lines, shapes, people, plants, textures - gritty, dirty, smooth and glassy.  Of course, at that time, black and white film was all that I had so I taught myself to see in black and white.  Film and development was expensive so I needed to "see" it in my minds eye before I knew if I wanted to spend my money to capture it on film.  My eye would be pulled from one thing to another but, constantly, I had to choose - take the shot or pass it by.

Reflection in Yellow I'm no longer burdened by that dilemma.  I can capture it electronically, review it and then trash it or keep it.  What this has taught me is to trust my gut.  My eye catches something that, on the surface, may seem uninteresting but I take the shot anyway.  Later, sometimes years later, I finally "see" it.  

The image of the reflected building in the office windows here is a good example.  The lines caught my eye while walking along the sidewalk and it seemed a "ho, hum" shot but I took it anyway.  In post, I processed it as an HDR image and tone mapped the result.  The details and the color became evident and even though "enhanced", I finally saw what my mind had already seen, lines, color, pattern, texture all wrapped in a nice composition.

Now I'm not going to say that this is "my best shot" but I am pleased with it and I never would have taken it if I hadn't been shooting from the hip and following my "instincts".  That is why I don't miss the "good old days" - I would never have done that.  It would have been "wasteful" of film and money and although I would have "seen" the shot, I would have passed it by because I would have judged it "not worth it". 

That is why, even today, I will go out in my own yard with my camera and just "see" it.  I see the scattered leaves that need to be cleaned up, debris in the pool, an empty beer bottle.  But I also see flowers blooming, the glistening water, the dogs relaxing and the textures of concrete, stucco, wood and iron cavorting in a hundred different "compositions".  They are all images waiting to be captured - even the beer bottle.  

All of that said, be prepared for some grief for the ones that don't quite work.  I often hear "Why'd you take a picture of that!?" and it's usually hard to explain - beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.  It's your job, as the photographer, to convey that beauty to others and that means you have to look for that "diamond in the rough" that others might pass by.  

Take the shot - you never know when it might be your best.


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