Photographically Speaking

No matter how dusty my cameras are, or how little I see of my beloved nature, I am as usual, thinking about photography.

Times change and perceptions change too.  I know that when I write about how to accomplish something in photography, different readers who see that article, will be looking for different things.  Much of what they are seeking, will have to do with the times we live in.  A lot of people have read my Cloudy Day Landscapes post which was written some time ago.  I wrote that article from the view-point of what a photographer can do when they are out making landscapes, and there is no sun.  I tried to explain how to make compelling landscapes on cloudy days.  I also attempted to convince the readers that if you perceive cloudy days as great days for landscape photography….then that is exactly what they will be.  When I wrote the piece I knew that many if not most of the those who would read it, would be looking for information on how to make a cloudy day look sunny, not how to find and capture the beauty of a cloudy day.  I am sure for many, their desire was to find someone who would explain how to use photo software to fool people into thinking it was actually sunny and bright when the picture was made.

It’s always more difficult in photography and life, to see the truth and find redeeming features in that truth, than it is to create a non-existing reality.  Writing compelling (and truthful) documentaries or biographical books, is more difficult than writing great fiction.  Both have a legitimate place in our DVD collections or bookshelves, but it is easier ( I contend) to invent a non-reality than it is to make interesting, an actual reality.  Find the true story or photo, and see the beauty or power in it, and let those with others build their scenes either in camera or while in front of their computer.

I start by saying that I am in no way against wildlife workshops or making images of indigenous people’s that are more a creation of costume and acting than they are of the truth.  We all have the right to do what we want, and every style has its place.  I just believe it is both more difficult, and more rewarding to find “real” behavior in wildlife or to find “real” people dressing the way they actually dress, and doing what they really do, and then make powerful images.  The same goes (my opinion) when comparing manufactured abstracts, with a real scene and a photographer with the vision to abstract the reality out of that scene, and artistically share it with the world.  The more difficult path is often the best in the world of photography.  The fact is, that simple elegant scenes are frequently the most difficult to produce. 

This is a great image, but does it mean as much to you the viewer, when you know that this cutie is just another worker being handled by game farm professionals who are just off camera?  The behavior is being controlled, and it is not real.  It was probably trucked to a good location in a vehicle while contained in a carrying crate. Posed at the perfect spot while a trainer got its attention. I think zoo photography is actually more sincere.  I do think if I went this far, and spent this much money, I would have made sure that the out of focus foliage growing out of the cubs back and out of the rock in front of the subject, were not visible. Both pictures came from Google Images.Large10

This image is not as good from a technical standpoint.  That is to say that the camera and/or software used may have been less than that used in the upper photo.  The pose is however, created by the lion cubs, not a professional handler.  This is the photo that means the most to me.wildlife-animals-7

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Great photography is always fun to look at, at least it is for me.  However, how I connect emotionally with an image means more to me than just technique.  The back story can be important, and a feeling that it is a slice of real life, not a composite, but a single part of real life, is often what makes an image special for me.  What has always made still photography more important to me than video or even painting, is that it is a fraction of a second of real life….held in time….forever.  How the photographer chooses to capture that, becomes their personal statement.

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I was listening to two people talk this morning,  about where they were when this or that happened in history.  I thought about it and I realized of all the huge events that occurred in my lifetime, there were only two where I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.  I remember the location and every detail of the experience of learning that American President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.  The same is true of the Twin Towers bombing on September 11, 2001.  Not very pleasant events and I suppose those are the times we remember the most.  While I remember the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and the shooting of President Ronald Reagan very well, just where I was and what I was doing at the time is a mystery to me. I do remember the first American in space, the first to orbit the earth, and the first man on the moon.  I certainly consider them to be good events, but while I know that I watched the John Glenn orbit the earth on television in school, that is all I remember about any of them.

I continued on that path and asked myself what were the dates of the most important events of my lifetime.  I then changed it the most important in the past 100 years. I could only narrow them down to the most important years and I would imagine that my answer would be different from almost anyone’s.  I think the most important years in the past 100 are the most important to everyone who has ever lived.  1948 and 1967.  I’ll leave it at that. What are your answers?

Thank you and God Bless,                                                                                                            Wayne

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