Recent explorations on the streets of Washington, DC.
I love photography. But I’m not sure I can tell you why.
The act of organizing the camera gear before heading out. The trip to the location. Arriving and getting started. Looking for photographs. Finding photographs. Shooting. Shooting more. Looking for more. The occasional peek at the LCD screen. Love it. Love it all.
I love shooting scenics. I love shooting wildlife. I love shooting life in the city. I love shooting portraits, studio and environmental. I love shooting events, Pride parades, weddings, bat mitzvahs. I love shooting skateboarders, kayakers… adventurers. I love the challenge of trying a new style. I love the never ending search for the perfect composition… or look… or moment.
I love the solitude of walking the banks of a river in the pre-dawn light… others love the crazed camaraderie of a press scrum.
The sound of the shutter, the sharp “click” as the lens locks into place, the flash of light I catch out of the corner of my eye when the on-board strobe fires. Love it.
I love the the look on peoples faces when I show them the image on the back of the camera. I love when I find a “Wow!” photograph I’d inexplicably passed over in my archives.
When I’m looking through the viewfinder and I’m not thinking, just doing. When everything is happening and I’m just trying to keep up. When I’m deep in the zone dancing that dance, staying with it, trying not to get in the way, but move closer, now step back, bob and weave, check the edges of the frame, shoot, shoot, shoot… it’s hard to describe the feeling in that moment, but I’ll never tire of it.
Garry Winogrand was once asked about his philosophy of photography. He said, “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.”
That’s perfect. If there is a more honest, unpretentious approach to photography I haven’t heard it. Who doesn’t want to see what their favorite person, place or thing looks like photographed? That’s what it is, isn’t it?
Photography is its own reward.
From far above the river I saw this great blue heron standing still on the rocks below. It was right on the river’s edge, waiting patiently for a passing meal. I carefully made my way down over fallen tree limbs and loose rocks. As I got closer I would stop occasionally and make a few photographs. After about five minutes I’d edge myself closer and wait and shoot some more. Then scoot a little closer still. I eventually got myself into a good position about 15 to 20 feet away.
From the moment I first saw the heron I imagined a photo of a good size fish struggling in that stiletto beak. I waited over an hour, sitting uncomfortably on solid rock, hoping for the bird to snag a catfish or bass from the water. There were several attempts, yet each came up empty. From my perch above I could see the occasional shadow of a fish swim by, but the heron either didn’t see it or it was too far out of reach to even try.
At one point another heron landed nearby. It was apparently just a little too close for comfort and this one chased it off. Then as it made its way back to its fishing spot I made this shot. Ultimately, other obligations made it impossible to stay any longer so I never got the fish-in-beak shot. But I’ll be back. And so will the herons. I’ll get the shot. Just going to take some patience.
In this week’s video we talk a little about composition. What is a well composed photograph? Tune in to find out.
This past weekend I met a group of Civil War re-enactors at the Canal. After talking to the men honoring the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves from 1861 I learned a good deal about what drives some to go into Living History representations. Very thoughtful fellows. Hope you enjoy:
Although hiking the Billy Goat Trail was more of an effort at 52 than I remember it being at 22, I did make it to the end! I’d forgotten what a spectacular hike it is. Definitely going back again soon.
Hope you enjoy this video.
Did you know that with nothing more than your pop-up flash, a soup spoon and the back of an 8×10 photo you can make a pretty decent softbox-like product shot?
It’s true. Here’s how: First, you’ll need to put the flash on manual and crank it up to quarter or half or full power depending on all your other settings (I’ll leave it to you to figure all that out, as each situation may be different).
Next, place the spoon in front of your pop-up flash and angle it in such a way as to redirect the light backwards onto the backside of an 8×10 photo which itself is angled to re-redirect that light forward onto your product. It takes a little practice to get the angles correct, but when you’re in a pinch it’s worth the effort!
Here’s an example:
And here’s an example of the set up:
Give it a go and feel free to share your results. Happy shooting!
This is the first in my new weekly series on YouTube celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service. Tune in as I share my favorite National Park entity, the Potomac River Gorge! (Also, photography tips!)