Introspection time again.
Occasionally I get asked why I persist in this photo-a-day thing when my grumbling indicates that it is often difficult, and even more frequently, unsatisfactory. This is day number 1,058. How long will I continue? And why do it anyway?
While I make no claims to be a participant in high art, my photography is a creative endeavour that is very important to me. It gives me great satisfaction. On the other hand, the vast majority of photographers don’t commit themselves to taking a photo every day, so why should I?
Another question is, how successful have I been? That question has two different answers. One is judged by those who read this blog (about 60 people a day), and the other is in my own mind. Some of you are kind enough to give me much valued feedback by way of comments on the blog. The comments have been overwhelmingly supportive and have been greatly appreciated.
In my own mind, as I have said in earlier blogs, this whole thing is about learning to see. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But I want to look behind the immediate details that present themselves. It sometimes eludes non-photographers that it is rarely enough just to “be there”. To create the desired image you need to be there again and again and again, in varying times of day, light conditions and seasons of the year. One of the images may eventually work.
Of course people, events, shapes, textures, colours and movement can all be captured at a moment in time, in the conditions that prevail at the time. But when the file is transferred from the camera to the computer, then I have to ask myself again, what was I seeing when I pressed the shutter? Does this image on the screen capture the essence of what I experienced, and can I make it say what I felt, or what I wanted to say about that experience?
I suppose I could have eliminated that green grass in the foreground, but the bokeh produced by the long lens was part of my image.
Wait a minute! “… make it say?” … am I manipulating the images? Well of course I am. That, in my view is at the heart of modern photography. Manipulation has always been part of photography, by way of cropping, dodging, burning, multiple exposures and other clever tricks. However, digital technology has shifted the balance, and I utterly reject any assertions that processing in the computer somehow makes my images less legitimate. For every hour I spend with the camera, I spend about three beating the images into shape. I crop, I adjust the exposure, the contrast, the saturation. I judiciously remove distracting elements. I use vignetting and selective focus tricks to make sure you look at the subject of the image I made. That’s my approach to image making.
Back to the point. Why am I doing it every day? I do it because I can.
The essence of this is spinning colour. I used a neutral density filter with the camera on a tripod so as to achieve a well focused but slow (half a second) exposure. Notice too, the leaves on the trees thrashing in the wind.
I enjoy and am thankful for the gift of sight. I enjoy making images that please me, and if they please you too, that’s a bonus. If I compare my daily images this year with those from earlier years, I like to think I am making better images most of the time. If I can be happy with on image in ten, I would regard that as a great success, but the nine are a necessary part of the learning process.
You may have noticed too, that I like to express myself in writing. Untill my retirement, words were my business … now they are an essential part of my creative urge. I am unlikely to stop photographing or writing in the foreseeable future.