Sea Blue Lens


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Getting Over It

Yay, it’s finally here! I’m taking a new class in Kat Sloma’s Find Your Eye series, called Journey of Fascination. We received our first lesson yesterday, “Letting Go.” It’s about learning from our photographic mistakes and missed opportunities and then letting them go — not continuing to beat ourselves up about them. Our assignment is to write a photojournal entry about one of those mistakes, what we learned from it, and whether we’ve let it go.

Let me count the ways . . .

Oops . . .

Probably like most photographers, I’ve missed a LOT of shots for various reasons. Driving by and not being able to stop. Not being able to get to my camera quick enough. Losing the light. Dead battery. Wrong lens. Wrong settings. Operator error.

Where'd he go?

Where’d he go? Note to self: practice panning.

Some of those I can’t do much about. Sometimes you just cannot pull off the road to get that photograph, no matter how badly you might want to. Clouds and light change in an instant, and there’s no controlling that — not for the average human, anyway.

I try to keep my camera close at hand now. It’s usually on my desk, with the lens on it that I’m most likely to want in a hurry. These days, that’s my 55-200mm zoom, for capturing the birds that fly in and only stay a moment or two. I keep my battery and a backup charged and change it before it runs completely out of juice.

Darn it!

Darn it! Wrong focal point.

The mistakes that bother me the most are the ones I make due to lack of technical expertise or knowledge of my camera. When I read over this lesson, one very painful one leapt to mind. Several years ago, some dear friends asked me to attend and photograph their wedding. It was a weekend-long event at a beautiful location, and began on Friday evening with a dinner for all the guests in a dimly-lit restaurant.

I arrived late, as I had to drive a long distance after work to get there. For some reason, I decided to change my camera’s flash setting to “rear curtain sync.” What I wanted was to capture the ambient light, then add a pop of flash to capture the details. (I wanted a more natural atmosphere than straight flash would give me.) What I didn’t take into account is that this might work fine for a stationary subject, but not so well with moving targets.

Here’s a photo from that night:

Makes me want to cry.

Still makes me want to cry.

Actually, this image (cropped to just the instrument and hands) doesn’t look that bad. You might almost think I’d done it deliberately. But, believe me, the blurred pictures of people sitting around tables, eating, chatting, and laughing, were not pleasing. The worst of it was, of course, that it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. There could be no do-overs.

Fortunately, I realized my mistake right after taking the image above, and the rest of the weekend and the photography went fine. But by then the dinner was over and the damage done. My friends were gracious and forgiving, but my stomach still clenches whenever I think about it. Clearly I have not let it go, despite knowing there is nothing I can do about it.

The takeaway lesson for me was to never, EVER experiment with the unknown when the results are critical. Don’t guess, but plan ahead of time and KNOW what is going to happen if a setting is changed. Look up what I want to do and how to do it. Experiment on my own time, ahead of time.

If those photos had been for myself, I’d have been disappointed and probably angry with myself, but I’d have gotten over it. What’s done is done, and there’s no point in brooding about what can’t be changed. But in this case, I disappointed someone I cared about who was counting on me, and that’s the part that hurts. That’s what makes it hard to let this one go.

.


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Photo-Heart Connection: January 2013

When I looked over my images from January to choose the one that stood out from the rest, this is what jumped out at me:

Whither Goest Thou?

Whither Goest Thou?

I know, what the heck is that?

I was sitting at my desk in front of the window, working away at the computer, when a flash of something white in the sky caught my eye. It was a flock of birds, shining in the sun, moving fast. I’d never seen anything like them here before, so I grabbed my point and shoot camera, which happened to be sitting on my desk, and ran for the door. I zoomed to maximum telephoto and grabbed this one shot just before they flew out of sight behind the mountains. I wasn’t trying for art, I was really just hoping to get enough to be able to identify the birds.

So here they are, cropped for a better look. Now can you tell what they are?

It's a Mystery

It’s a Mystery

How about now?

Seriously?

Seriously?

That’s right — seagulls. What?

I live in the DESERT. The ocean is about fifty miles west of here, as the crow…er, seagull flies. But these guys were heading east, toward more desert. Where were they coming from? Why did they leave there? Where were they going? What did they find on their journey?

These are thoughts I’ve been pondering in regards to my own life. My word, my theme for this year is “Explore.” I want to explore the the world around me:  see new places, meet new people, learn new things, take new photographs, read new books, think new thoughts. I want to fly in new and unexpected directions.

This is not exactly natural behavior for me. I’m an introvert, and can be a bit shy, though I usually hide it pretty well. Trying something I’ve never done before, or going someplace I’ve never been before is not easy. It always scares me a little.

I think I’ll pretend to be a seagull, sailing over brown hills, looking for blue water. Maybe I’ll pick up a few friends along the way who’d like to share the journey.

Linking with Kat Eye Studio’s Photo-Heart Connection for January.

.


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Up a Creek

With a Paddle

So, say you plan to meet a friend after work for a photoshoot. It’s kinda last-minute, so you dash home at 5:00, quickly change clothes, grab your camera bag, toss it into the car and head out. You get to the appointed spot, open your bag, and . . . .

There’s no camera in there, just a lens and some accessories.

What would you do? More to the point, what did I do? Well, after saying a couple of things to myself that I won’t repeat here, I decided I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day. It was another crazy-warm-for-March, beautiful day, and the evening light was gorgeous. It would be great just to be out in the fresh air, enjoying the scenery and the company of my friend. Besides, we were going for pizza afterwards. Life was still good, though I did feel a little silly.

And then I remember I’ve got my iPhone with me — I can take some photos with that! My iPhone is still fairly new to me, and I haven’t used the camera much. So my expectations aren’t very high, but I figure, what have I got to lose? So I wander around, snapping this and that, trying to frame subjects on the viewscreen. In that light, the surface is like a mirror and I’m mostly seeing my own reflection. Still feeling a little silly, but having fun.

Maybe it was because I didn’t expect much. Or because I wasn’t taking myself or my photography very seriously. I wasn’t trying very hard. But to my great surprise, I got a bunch of images that I really like. Here are a few of them.

Dock

All Tied Up

Loner

Seawall

Gossip

Inner Light

Outer Glow

Molten Sky

At Rest

These images were taken with the iPhone camera, no apps involved. Some were lightly processed in Lightroom, but many are SOOC — or should I say SOOP (Straight Out Of Phone)? I was impressed with their color and clarity.

May I just say that I love my iPhone? I’m really glad I gave it a try that evening. It turned out to be a great night. (And the pizza was delicious.)

.


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Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I skipped SHS last week and I missed it! Here are my responses to this week’s prompts, which were: Water, Light, Chocolate, Animal, and Crowded.

Water:

Just Like You

I was taken by the echo in the lines of these two boats, and that old song “Cat’s In the Cradle” popped into my head . . . I want to be just like you, Dad, I want to be just like you.

Chocolate:

Afternoon Delight

Does this even require a comment? I’ll leave it to your imagination what happened to this setup after the photo was taken.

Animal:

Above the Dawn

This image could just as well have served as “Water” or “Light” this week, but I’m counting that lone seagull as my token animal for the week.

Crowded:

Tight-Knit Community

Mussels snugged up tightly together under the dock, with barnacles clinging fast on top of them.

Light:

Susan in Sunlight

Saved the best for last, because I love this image. My friend Susan and I went out before the crack of dawn this morning for a photoshoot, followed by our now-traditional after-shoot breakfast. There’s more than one kind of light, and special friends bring that into my life. It’s such fun to have a companion to chase photographic light and share light-hearted moments with. Thanks, Susan! (Does this photo remind anyone else of that scene from Titanic? You know the one.)

That’s it for this week. I’m linking up with Ashley Sisk for Scavenger Hunt Sunday. Can’t wait to see what everyone came up with!


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For the Birds

Chuck and Kirk

We had the most amazing, gorgeous New Year’s Day here in Southern Maine. An azure sky with a few wispy clouds, golden sunshine, a mild breeze, and a temperature in the mid-forties. And . . . I got a new 55-200mm zoom lens for Christmas! What’s a photographer to do? Go on a photo walk with a couple of friends, of course.

We checked out the Audubon Sanctuary at Biddeford Pool, then we headed down here:

Nubble Light

What we were looking for was this, which was just out of the frame on the left of the image above:

Snowy Owl

. . . a Snowy Owl that had been reported on local bird forums as having been sighted hanging around the lighthouse. I’m quite pleased with this photo, which was cropped from an image taken with my new 55-200mm lens, hand held, from a distance of a hundred yards or so.

Anyway, that’s when the guys got out the “big guns.” Can you tell they are serious about this?

Getting Real

There was quite a little crowd coming and going, thanks in equal measure to the beautiful weather and the rumored owl sighting. People seemed equally fascinated by the camera gear and the Snowy. My companions were generous with offering close-up looks through their lenses, and sharing their knowledge of birds and photography with anyone who had questions.

Local Color

Sharing

Me? I was standing back watching the action, playing with my own new lens, photographing birds so far away I could barely see them, taking pictures of the scenery and the people, listening to conversations and having a few of my own, wearing a huge happy grin at the wonder of it all.

Waves

Lighter than Air

It’s hard to think of a better way to start a new year.

.


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Being My Own Inspiration

Taking flight

Lesson two in our Find Your Eye class was to start an “inspiration file.” This is meant to consist of 15 to 20 of my own favorite photographs, the ones that speak to me and that I love to look at. Well, that shouldn’t be so hard.

Well, except that sometimes I make things harder on myself. Before I can pick my favorite/best photos, I must compulsively organize ALL of my photos. I know, I know. But actually, it helped with the exercise, because I scanned through hundreds thousands of pictures very quickly, not letting myself obsess (too much) over any particular one.

It was the 15-to-20 photos part that turned out to be the hardest. I ended up with a few over 50, and had to leave out a lot of others that I really love to get it reduced that far.

Bluebird of Happiness Times Four

What I ended up with is a folder of photographs that surprised me. It makes me happy when I look at each one, and even happier when I see them all grouped together. You see, I’ve never been very impressed with my own abilities as a photographer. But seeing all of my favorites at one glance, I realize I really do like them. A lot.

They are not all brilliant, or technically perfect, but each one has something about it that I love. Some are out of focus, or a bit crooked, but I left them in because they give me ideas. I want to remember to try that shot again, and get it better next time.

Fuzzy duck…but oh, look at that green!

These, my own pictures…they do inspire me, and I think that was the point of the lesson. I’m grateful to have learned it.