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.

DSC_0068 (1)





“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.


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

Upgrading lessons

Upgrading lessons

If you grew up hearing a song about a poor old woman who swallowed a fly, read on. If not take a look here for some additional context.

I recently had an opportunity to update my camera body at an amazing price. This is a good thing  but it also came with a reminder of a life lesson I want to share.

You are never updating one thing. Always look for the connections to avoid surprises.

Every time I have updated something, it set off a chain of other updates. When I switched to a digital SLR I had to work through and replace lenses to get the full benefits. I had to buy a new flash to take advantage of features like TTL. My darkroom had to be replaced with Adobe Lightroom. (Honestly, I miss the experience of printing but not the fumes, chemicals or the long nights and failures)

This lesson applies to seemingly small changes too. I was not expecting any compatibility issues with the new camera body and this has been the case with the lenses and flash. What I did not consider was software. I’m still on Lightroom 4 which apparently does not recognise the RAW files from the new camera. This is more of an annoyance as I was able to workaround the limitation but I will need to update to Lightroom 5. That also means buying some new books to learn all the new tweaks and tricks.

Another change I had planned for was storage. Doubling the megapixels on a sensor comes at a price of larger files.  I cleaned up my internal drive to make room for images but in the longer term, that drive will need to be replaced with a larger one. The computer itself will eventually need to be replaced too and no doubt that will trigger other changes.

This lesson applies to other aspects of life too. New educational qualifications open up new opportunities. So does moving to a new town.

It can apply to your creativity as well.  I want to take that same piece of advice above and reframe it.

In photography, you are never learning one thing. Always look for the connections and enjoy the surprises.

Think about that for a minute.

When I photograph someone, I’m not just refining or applying technique, hopefully, I’m engaging with that sitter and learning about them or perhaps I may learn something new about myself and how I relate to people. When I go somewhere and make images I learn about the area, it’s history, flora, fauna and where to get a good coffee afterwards.

Accept change, understand and manage risks and keep moving forward toward the next challenge.


I like the way Zack Arias approaches the art, craft and business of photography. His latest project is DEDPXL and it is impressive for something so new.

When I saw the first assignment video I decided it was really sound way to approach a subject and so I started making some images around the theme of lines.

Looking at these earlier today I continued working on the water tank image as a monochrome and posted it to 500px where it had a good response. This has me thinking about how I pick themes for the diced imagery project. Should I just pick one of the results and exhaust it instead of choosing from nine?