Not so missing links

Not so missing links

Having deep thoughts about the role of chains in life. I worked out I can link where I am now back to where I was five, ten, thirty years ago through a chain of events. It’s much like what Steve Jobs said here about connecting dots;

 

Then I was thinking about the function of those chains. Is the strength of those links to past events holding me in place like an anchor? Alternatively, is the inherent strength something I use to get to the next link, building a longer and stronger chain in the process?

The fundamental question from all this is, am I pushing on or be pulled by the chain?

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Tiny obsession

Tiny obsession

My ongoing quest to get closer and closer continues and I recently added more gadgets that have really proved themselves, a pair of focus rails and a magic arm.

The focus rails took me back to when I owned a set of macro bellows and let me move the camera forward or back and side to side very precisely. Getting the magic arm was inspired by this video and lets me place a flash exactly where I need it to be.

Here it is all setup.

IMG_1855Looks extremely complex and there is a bit more weight but that is offset by increased control of focus and light. Using a tripod makes it easier to manage but I will try this handheld outside and see what happens.

This setup gets me close but I can get even closer. that involves a step down ring to connect an old 50mm to the front of the 90mm macro shown in use. Here is an example with me just holding this all together by hand.

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This image provides an idea of just how close I’m getting.

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Unlocking elements

Okay, so I keep coming back to this scene because I know there is more than one image here. I just have to remove anything that is not essential to making that image work.

I think I finally have a composition I’m happy with. The netting forms this great leading line between the vines. My only problem today was that unlike previous days, the sky this morning was really clear which presented a high contrast scene. Here are the results of bracketed exposures.

It’s a situation where there is no right exposure even in an age where high dynamic range is beyond anything film could ever do.

Yes, I could do a composite and If I was desperate I would but I like the challenge of getting it right in camera.

Using a graduated filter may have helped but I think the main problem is getting some more light and detail on the foreground. That means going back to see what late afternoon might offer. If the sky lacks any drama I may go with a different composition with less sky. Something like this.

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Stoicism

Stoicism

“Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself? So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

One of those episodes

One of those episodes

Watch enough television and there will be more than one series that has one of those episodes… It is basically an episode composed entirely of previous episodes, chock full of flashbacks. It comes across as a cheap way to produce an hour of viewing but it sometimes serves to show newer viewers what they missed.

In that context, the following post will draw heavily on previous material. In looking back I also hope to discover ways forward.

One thing that stands out is that revisiting places has helped me to think through images and come up with new ways to approach them in terms of composition, light or technique.

 

I have photographed this location many times but there is still more I can do and learn from it.

Another thing is that I seem to have thing for red.

The final thing is the lack of people and most of the underlying reasons for that have been dealt with, just leaving time and opportunity. That’s about to change and it can’t come soon enough.

The learning never stops

The learning never stops

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Martha Graham (1894 – 1991 ), Choreographer

There is a good lesson here, one of many I have experienced this year. Just make the things you want to make and put them out there. What it is worth to other people is their decision, not yours.

With any form of creativity, there is never really a point at which you can just stop and say there is nothing more to learn. With photography, there is so much that did not exist when I started making images over 30 years ago. That said, there are often restraints of time and resources that hamper the ability to explore.

Some of the important learning is not about technique or equipment. It is about the self. Understanding what motivates the desire to create, building the confidence to take risks and try different things, accepting failures, taking the experience from them and going forward. These are things rarely discussed in photographic literature but essential to creative growth. Then there are supporting skills like patience, curiosity and playfulness, that can’t really be taught the way taking an incident reading on a light meter can.

Going back to the quote above, it is the combination of experiences and learning that enable each of us to be unique and see things within the mundane that others may miss.  I could have happily spent an hour or more photographing the side of this truck but I made the most of the time and equipment restraint.

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Grab shot using iPhone. I’m a sucker for texture and contrast.