The Lesser Evil

We’ve all heard (and used?) the term “the lesser of two evils”  I think most of us will confess that we sometimes commit the lesser of two evils when we go to the voting booth.  That term applies to much of life.  For people like you and me, photography is a part of life.

Every day we make decisions where we find it necessary to accept less than we would like to. Even in photography we often have to make choices.  We sacrifice shutter speed in favor of depth of field…..and then we do exactly the opposite.  The lesser of two evils? We expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.  We use a long lens in an effort to get visually close to an animal, and then lose the beautiful flower in the foreground.  We use a shorter lens for the same shot, we gain the flower and we lose the power of the animal.  When I had the opportunity, I always made a variety of shots, but that is sometimes impossible.  Photography is about problem solving and decision-making, and those who are the best at it, prosper.  How do you get to be the best at it?  Make lots of pictures.  There has never been, and there never will be a substitute for experience.  If you shoot once a year, shoot once a month. If you shoot once a month, shoot once a week.  You get the picture…pun intended.

Much like life, images are at their best when they are simple and uncluttered. Congestion creates confusion which then produces anxiety.  Peace in a photo (and life) comes from simplicity. If a picture does have a lot of things going on, then order is what’s desired.   Even with grand landscapes, we photographers should spend at least as much time trying to leave things out as we do trying to include more.  It becomes the hardest when all that confusion contains things we deem important.  What to do?  Chose the lesser of the evils. Hard decisions are always the most important.

Recently I have been using the pages of Earth Images to introduce you to many of the world’s best photographers. Today I continue.

A few articles back I shared with you the work of the great bird photographer David Hemmings.  My only criticism was that I wished he would photograph more mammals and begin photographing landscapes.  When David is in Costa Rica conducting Hummingbird workshops he usually does take time away from birds to create images of critters like frogs and snakes.  Below are Hemming’s photos of a Red-eyed Tree Frog and a Vine Snake.  David makes good decisions.  Like most of the best workshop teachers, he shoots every single day that he gets the chance.  Around the world or in his own back yard, David can usually be found making pictures.993737_10202149836083869_748993095_n


Take note that David did what photographers have had to do under difficult circumstances for years.  With not enough depth of field to cover everything, he shot for the eyes.

When it comes to “what to leave in and what to leave out“, landscape photographer Joseph Rossbach is the best I know.  He will climb, crawl and probably swim to find a vantage point that simplifies and therefore adds power to his pictures.  If there is a lot going on in a Rossbach image, then he creates order out of all that chaos.

Simple and elegantthrough-the-ages_DSC7231-Edit

Order out of chaosautumn-cascade

I don’t know what a photo workshop with Joseph is like, but if he works as hard at workshops as he does at photography it should be worth the money.

I accidentally came across nature/macro photographer Damon Clarke and am I glad I did.  Damon’s decision making process is fully intact.  Please check out his website to enjoy his art.  The flower and the dragonfly below are great examples of choosing the lesser evil properly. 2


Today’s Sermon

Tiz the season.  We are now in the midst of what can best be described as commotion.  That holiday season that starts with Thanksgiving and ends after New Years. I will admit that holidays no longer exist in my world.  They were once a big part of life and I do enjoy watching everybody else and how they deal with this hectic time.  I agree with the sentiments of those who ask why do we need to sit in lines all night waiting for that “big box” retailer to open on Black Friday, and  I also agree that it is silly to open on Thanksgiving.  If I still needed to Christmas shop, as I did for many years, I would never take part in either one of those practices.  However, that is where I part company with those who blame the free enterprise system for all of this.  Many actually want the government to put a stop to it. What part of “free” is so hard for some people to understand?  In a free country all that is necessary to stop this is for customers to refuse to patronize stores that open on Thanksgiving.  You say “but there will be some people who will shop that day anyway“.  Once again, what part of free is so hard to understand?  That’s their choice, you make yours.  Much like the gas station down the street, those department stores have a right to open whenever they want. They will cease the practice just as soon as enough people exercise their “freedom” of choice to not shop on that day.  If enough people continue to shop on Thanksgiving, then apparently those people don’t agree with you.  They made the free choice to shop.

The freedom of choice is a blessing, enjoy it.

Have a great day and keep it simple,                                                                                                   Wayne

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