“I’ve been forty years discovering that the Queen of all colors is black.”
I did warn you in last week’s post. What can I say? I love the clarity that comes with black and white. While others are anticipating a riot of colors bursting into the night sky I see a hazy red blur that is much better defined without the color.
I do love an opportunity to shoot fireworks. There is such an element of surprise as to what you might see. Each time I do it I find myself more relaxed and able to take in the show at the same time as I am photographing it. I was even able to ignore the popping of flashes behind me with hardly an eye-roll as the other spectators attempted to capture this on various flash equipped devices.
I found this to be almost meditative too as I calculated how long to leave the shutter open and envisioned what elements I was building into each frame. Would it be one singular explosion or a longer shot enveloping multiple explosions?!
Fourth of July
For those disappointed by these black and white images I offer this as an opportunity to imagine all the colors of the rainbow. Whatever colors yourheart may desire…and a happy independence day America!
Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.
Tempting as it may be to shoot things like heavily saturated sunsets that draw gasps of delight from the general public I think it is important to stay true to what you personally find to be moving. If you sacrifice that inner voice, your own personal je ne sais quoi in the hopes of a sale, you will lose the joy that comes with picking up a camera.
It’s strange but when I find myself editing an image with just the smallest of adjustments using an almost exaggerated light touch I know that the image holds more meaning for me.
Likewise when I see the work of another photographer and it makes me hold my breath even for a moment I know that their work has resonated with me and it then becomes important to find out why.
Michael Kenna is one such artist who when I happened upon his work it was like time stood still. So many of his images were utterly simple and at the same time complex in their composition and tone.
I battle with color and sensory overload at the best of times so I do find myself drawn to black and white. As a young girl I was petrified of the dark with its enveloping blackness and things that might lurk in those shadows. Never one to give in to irrational fears I pushed myself to be in that darkness and I have found it to be meditative and calming in a world that has exploded with connectivity. Now I find myself more often than not, waiting for the sun to go down so that I can explore the night using long exposures. Certainly not something that I would ever have imagined doing but if you are willing to try new things and keep an open mind, you might find your journey taking a new direction.
I do still shoot color but I find myself doing so less and less and when I look back on photographers whose work really moves me, it is almost always minimalist and black and white.
For me it is about being authentic in your work and presenting an image that is true to your own personal vision and this year as I shoot the fireworks to celebrate America’s day of Independence they will more than likely be in black and white…
Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.
E. B. White
I have always had a passion for dogs and have lived with them for most of my life. Photographing them can be challenging but when it comes together naturally it’s a beautiful thing!
Several of the breeds that I have owned frequently land between the pages of Breed Specific Legislation. That poorly thought out, often contentious piece of appearance based legislation that targets a growing list of dog breeds purely on how they look. If your breed isn’t on it, don’t be too complacent, once in place it has the capability of quietly growing.
As a photographer and owner of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, I am very conscious of the images that I share of this breed; always scrutinizing them for what someone might ‘see’ in them and choose to tagline as vicious. She could be running joyfully towards me with that ‘grin’ that all owners of this breed recognize but to the uneducated or the one with an agenda, publishing that image might just add fuel to the fire when taken out of context. It is unfathomable to me that there are cities in this country and in the one to my North, where should I venture into those places with this dog, she could actually be confiscated. Did I mention that in England they are called the Nanny Dog, they are especially good with children and that this particular dog lives with a fluffy white kitty?
On this day she sat quietly watching me as sunlight streamed through the wooden blinds and calling out a quick ‘stay’ I reached for my camera which is always close at hand. For me it was a moment that captured the look of prejudice and each time I see it I am compelled to remember never to judge a book by its cover.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in a challenge of posting three images a day for five days which made me look at my body of work a little differently. I was searching for groups of images that worked well together and in the process was able to give myself a little more direction.
While choosing my first grouping of three I could clearly see influences flow through my work. Those influences were more related to various techniques and use of lenses and not necessarily subject matter. What I found were images that energetically and visually worked more naturally together.
I can distinctly remember how on frozen ground came about. I was photographing an exciting event called skijoring where skiers and snowboarders are pulled around a track and over jumps at high rates of speed by a horse and rider team. There was no shortage of people photographing this event and after choosing a location that would eliminate more of the background clutter, I began shooting.
During a break in the action I was scrolling through my images and remember being so decidedly underwhelmed by my shots that I thought would look pretty much like everybody else’s. I will admit to being more than a little envious of the fellow who had the prime position of being right in the center of the ring and thought, okay, how can I make mine different? What do I want to capture in my shot? There were several things that impressed me; speed, danger, teamwork, and the sheer beauty of a horse galloping across the snow. I love abstract, don’t want to be visually told everything, but would rather have something left to discover. That however was not coming through in my static, high shutter speed shots that froze the action so I dialed it down and began panning with my camera as each team flew by. I got the shot that I wanted and it has become a favorite of mine.
Looking back, I realized that I had become comfortable enough with my camera to start playing with it more; where the risk of walking away without the shot was a far better choice for me than settling for a shot that I didn’t love. I think up until that point my images consisted more of static moments frozen in time even though it had always been my desire to be able to instill more emotion into my imagery.
On that cold January day I didn’t freeze and was able to work through a moment and capture what I had mentally visualized.
Participating in the art challenge allowed me to group together images and make sense of what and how I like to shoot and in the process that has refocused me. Shooting from the heart adds a certain authenticity that is hard to fake. If you’re not moved by your own images how can you expect others to be?
For more about Alfred Stieglitz check out my post from February 8th “If you could tag along with an iconic photographer…”
Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.
This was not what I thought I would write about this week but after photographing this, I could not get it out of my thoughts. I started thinking about why we photograph the things that we do and what does that say about us as photographers?
This was not one of those times of beautiful light. It was late afternoon and I had gone down to the lake hoping that the sun might win its battle with the heavy fog and break through with a mystical, atmospheric sunset. I made my way along the breakwater occasionally seeing dim figures come into view and hearing voices that would carry across the water. Taking a moment to stand in one place and to look all around me, my eyes were drawn to something down in the water that did not belong. It was not an easy feat scrambling down the sharp rocks in my Boggs but I had to have a closer look.
Having spent a lot of time on the water I have seen my fair share of litter and discarded items but never before a keyboard. I carefully waded out into the icy lake so that I would be able to photograph this in relation to its watery grave.
I don’t suppose that I will ever know the story behind the rather bleak demise of the keyboard but it did get me thinking about the various genres of photography and why we are drawn to the things that we are. As I sat and contemplated, the lyrics of Don Mclean’s American Pie running through my head, I realized just how much my photography has changed in the past few years. What began more as documentation that called for clarity, focus, and accuracy of the scene, had somehow began to morph into more of a visual storytelling where everything did not need to be stated.
In The Americans, published in 1959, Robert Frank captured the gulf between the American dream and everyday reality, a visual story as timely today as it was then. Critics of his work described his images in less than complimentary terms using words like “meaningless blur, muddy exposures, and drunken horizons”. He deviated from accepted photographic techniques and in doing so managed to capture so much more.
In a world inundated with photography, where everyone who carries a phone has the capability of taking a photograph, how do you see yourself? What kind of photographer are you?