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on Mar 5, 2013 in B&W Photography

Getting Down to “The” Photo


As you might imagine, I get asked a few times, a minute, “What were you seeing when you took that photo?” This along with wondering what I was feeling are really great questions that might help one move their own photography forward. The one problem is, a lot of the time I’m not “seeing” and feeling on a level that honestly, isn’t like, screaming outloud in my head. I don’t want to say I’m going on auto pilot but I don’t want you to think I’m really thinking deeply either. So when folks as me this question, often my answer is a puzzled look on my face, like something else is about to come out. The other problem is, since I am constantly pushing my photography, the approach to going click is never the same. Hopefully, it’s getting better and more productive. So how to answer this question providing you with an answer that will help you? For the last few months, I keep bouncing this question around in my head.


One of my issues is, I don’t react the same way and approach each photographically opportunity the same way that can provide a meaningful answer. It wasn’t really that long ago, I shot like a madman, I mean astro blasting and I enjoyed it. Until I got back and had to deal with all the images, I didn’t enjoy that. That caused me to look at what I was doing in the field strictly mathematically in what I refer to “Calories in – calories out.” This basic animal instinct I applied to my photography. How much time and energy, camera clicks was I putting out to create those images that I really liked? Those images I wanted to take my precious time to finish and then share with others. With my huge push to shoot more, filing more just for the sake of filing lost its luster and doing the math, shooting like a madman wasn’t showing a huge increase in images that I finished and loved. If that was the case, was there a way to improve on the calories in – calories out results?


What you see here is a photographic answer to this question for myself. I realized that to tell someone else visually that where I had been, what I experienced and what I felt about a location really only took one photo, the photo. Ya, I would love a helluva lot more, I’m not insane but on the flip side, to feel successful for that outing, I only need that one. The problem is, getting to that one! During our Death Valley Adventure, we ventured out one afternoon to Stovepipe Wells Dunes. This gorgeous location is explored by many, you know by all the footprints in the sands. That was my first thought of what I wanted in my photograph, all the footprints to show the joy so many had exploring the tunes. But then I turned to an old theme I always love to explore, the sands of time. I love the patterns the winds creates in the sand, it seems to always suck me in. With the D4 / 24-70 I narrowed down my vision and looked for those lines and texture to make for me, at that moment, the photo. I only shot about 50 images the whole evening, but I came back with a high percentage of ones I finished (using onOne P7 B&W) and like. Now does any of this help you? I don’t know, I really don’t. It’s where my time behind the camera has brought me and who knows, it might be where yours takes you, if you know that’s a destination for going. Getting down to the photo.