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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

odds and ends...

So as you can tell it has been a few weeks since I have done much on this page, and believe me it's not for lack of ideas, but more for a lack of time. I have to sleep, so somethings suffer, and since this place is not something that is actually making me any money, I have to back burner it now and then. A couple of other things have also kept me form being a busy blogger, namely Facebook and my new camera! You can see from the last few posts that I have been a busy little photographer.

I have now had the camera for about 5 weeks and I noticed the frame count today was nearing 3000. Yes, I am a prolific snapper. Not all of my snaps are collectible photos, but each of them teaches me something, and therefore they are valuable. In fact, today I have decided that I wished to try and get a better understanding of exactly how flash compensation worked, and so I sat down in the shade and shot a few geraniums at various settings to see how the various flash settings affected the shots. And I recorded the data for each shot in my little data book so that I may later refer to the data to help me perfect my technique. The truth is that I much prefer to use natural light and the shadows that it casts, just as it casts them, however there are times when I do and will need to understand how to use a flash to eliminate certain harsh shadows or to even the light across a subject. Thus I have to learn how to do it, when the situation is controlled and I can learn without the pressure of the shots "counting". Getting a grip to be sure.

Facebook seems to be slightly addictive, and I am trying to find ways of interacting a little more with people and getting some feedback. There are certain people who constantly give feedback, and I do appreciate it to an extent, but there is a limit to good wishes from people. Sometimes rather than simply telling me how much they like my stuff, I would like it if they told their other friends how much they like it, and get me some more eyes and maybe some eyes looking to buy! I have been putting up various pictures that I have been taking, especially with my new camera, and The hope is that eventually I will be able to start selling prints. I am not looking to get rich, honestly, I would love to be able to make a living at photography, but I know that it is a long way to get to that point. I know that I am not the best business mind, I am much more creative. That said, in order to make a living at photography, I have to figure out what my niche is. Am I a nature photography, or an action shooter? Am I a concert portrait maker, or do I capture the raw emotion of an event? I have been taking pictures at fire scenes, and I have shot some youth sports. I love taking pictures of plants and flowers and trying to capture the peacefulness or grandeur of landscapes. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to take some portrait style pics of my niece for her senior pictures. What did I like best?

Truthfully, I liked doing all of it. I like nothing better than looking at the world and seeing what I want to capture and then the satisfaction of getting some shots that turn out to be exactly what I had in my head when I initially looked at the scene.

I have this dream of doing a book about barns, as any longtime (longtime being since last fall when I started it!) reader of this blog can tell you, I love barns, and especially the old gambrel roofed style barns. Sadly, they are a disappearing structure in the American landscape, and the history that they hold is disappearing with them. How many times have you driven down the road and seen a lone silo standing sentinel over an empty field? You can bet that lying below that silo is the remains of a barn, whether collapsed into the ground or burned in some tragedy or demolition, it is the barn that raised the silo. The lone silo is the orphaned child of the barn. I don't know if I will ever have the drive to actually finish the book, but perhaps someday I will get much closer to getting it done.

I have been taking pictures yes, but I have also been writing about them. In more than one place. I have the pictures on Facebook and each one has a little something with it as an explanation, and in some cases I use the pictures to illustrate some narrative about what they are or why I took them. Recently someone was looking at some of my pics and asked me why I took a particular picture, and my immediate response was to ask, why not? In the age of digital cameras, there is no good reason NOT to take a picture. True that in many cases you only get a snapshot and not what the professionals call a "picture", but what is a picture but a well staged,placed and/or planned snapshot. By definition the BEST pictures of the last 100 years have been lucky snapshots when someone was in the right place at the right time shooting the scene. "The Execution" in Saigon, "Napalm girl", The flag raising at Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Granted the most famous one is a staged event, but the original was a snapshot. Part of the photographers job is being in the right place at the right time, and knowing where to look when the action is taking place. The guys on the sidelines of the big league games, they have earned a place there, so that they have the chance to get that special shot that becomes iconic for a particular athlete, like the crestfallen look of Scott Norwood after he missed the field-goal that lost the Super Bowl, or the moment of triumph when Lance Armstrong crossed the finish line for his 5th consecutive Tour De France win. The guy who was positioned to capture the flight of Richard Petty along the fence at Daytona when he went airborne. These guys have only one chance to get that particular iconic shot, and if they miss it or screw it up, they will never get the chance again, and we, the public, will never be able to review it and see if it is like we remember. In these days of video, and cellphone cameras, it is likely that someone got the picture, but what would you rather see, a picture that you have to squint at to see the details, or a giant glossy poster of that perfect shot? Yeah, that's why I took that picture, because eventually no one will have to ask why I took it, because they will be able to see in the frame why I took it, whether it's the tears of defeat, the joy of victory, the gossamer wings of a dragonfly skimming across a lily pond, or the spectacular colors of an August sunset. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I truly believe that the story behind the picture is what makes the picture with it.

Pictures are art. Every snapshot, every school picture, every painting, every sand drawing. If it is a graffiti tag spray-painted on a building or the doodling of a child on a notebook, it is art. Art is in the eye of the beholder, it is interpretive and has the distinctive duality of being both valuable and worthless at the same time. Each creation is unique, if for no other reason than it is separate from all others, even the copy has it's own individual flaws that make it unique from all other copies. What we create as artists, ( and we are all artists) we always hope to have accepted by someone. Even if it is a small group that sees the innate value of your work, you always appreciate the acceptance. As an artist I know that my art has value to me, in that it is something that I have put myself into, but I hope that it captures something that gives it value to somebody else as well. When I die and the things that I have made are kept as mementos of my life, then they have a new and greater value, because I will never create or capture another piece with my unique vision. From this standpoint, one can argue that even the electrician who puts the wires in the walls of your house, that you may never see or worry about, is an artist, because his work is unique.

We are all artists, and we all deserve appreciation, it doesn't really matter the medium, or even the message, if we leave behind a piece of ourselves, that is appreciated by someone else, then we have achieved a "masterpiece".
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