As I mentioned last Thursday, I have been appreciating the photography discussions David Wayne at Jollyblogger has been hosting. I’ve also been reading Learning to See Creatively, How to Compose Great Photographs by Bryan Peterson – a book David mentioned a few weeks ago. Apparently this book has been updated, but the library copy I am reading is the original 1988 edition and most of the information is not applicable to digital photography – especially my digital.
However, I am still learning new ways of “seeing” from this book that have been an encouragement. There are only so many photographs that I can take of the zinnias, tropicals, lizards, snakes, flowering weeds, insects, and wildlife that inhabit or grow on our five acres on Pollywog Creek before there is nothing left to photograph – especially following a historic drought and heading into what is normally a dry winter. The apparent lack of photographic subjects has not prevented me from wandering along the fence line, around the pond and down by the creek bank twice a day in the hope that my camera lens will discover something new and interesting. Learning to See Creatively has encouraged me to look more intentionally for elements I had not been considering, and in the spirit of Jollyblogger, I may as well share what I have been learning, should any of my readers be interested.
Over the weekend, and probably for the next couple of weeks, I considered line, shape, form, texture, and pattern, those elements Peterson covers in his chapter, “Elements of Design”, as I was looking for new photographic subjects. In my morning walk on Saturday, I was intrigued by the triangle created by the pile of lumber leaning against a bifurcation of an oak tree trunk and the chain that dangled from the triangle’s apex. I tried to angle the photo so that the chain appeared to be hanging at the very top of the triangle, but to do so would have placed objects in the background that detracted from the composition I was trying to achieve. I still thought it was an acceptable, if not interesting, beginning to a photographic set of shapes – with the triangle in the middle and one in each upper corner.
On my walks in the morning, I usually begin by facing west, with the sunlight behind me and over my shoulder, along the side of the property with the greatest opportunity of discovering interesting subjects to photograph, so in my late afternoon walks, I walk in reverse, facing east along that same boundary. It is a routine that I rarely vary, even on cloudy days when sunlight is not an issue.
It was in that afternoon walk on Saturday that I noticed a different, and I thought much more interesting, perspective of the triangle I had photographed in the morning. Not only could I place the chain closer to the triangle’s true apex, the lines created by the wood on the shed in the background added eight more triangles (can you find them all?) and created a stronger “wood” composition.
There are two “problems” that I see with the second photograph, though. The first is the moss blowing in the wind that somewhat obscures the triangle in the top left corner. I should have just pulled it out of the tree. (duh!) The other is that the dangling chain is nearly “hidden” in the wood in the background and no longer really contributes much to the photo. Does that matter? I don’t know. What do y’all think?
I had to laugh at myself for not recognizing the second perspective earlier in the day. I was concentrating so hard on trying to get the chain to dangle from the true apex that it never occurred to me to walk around to the other side of the tree. How true of life that is! So often I just need to step back, walk around and look at my circumstances from a different angle or a new light and they will begin to come into greater focus.
It isn’t just the mechanics of photography that I am learning through this “hobby” of mine. I have mentioned many times before that photography is one of the tools the Lord uses to teach me, and if you were to accompany me on my walks around Pollywog Creek, you would most likely hear me talking to Him along the way, telling Him that if it so pleased Him to show me His glory, that I would be careful to make His glory known by sharing it here and here and here.
I have a simple “point and shoot” camera. It is all I can afford for now, but when I ask the Lord to help me see through the lens of my camera what I otherwise can not see through the lens of my eyes, I have been in awe of how He has done just that with that simple “point and shoot” camera.
While I am on the subject of photography and cameras, you might be interested to know that Susan and Janice at 5 Minutes for Mom are having a digital camera giveaway. One of their lucky readers (I hope it is me!) will win a special-edition pink EX-Z75 Casio digital camera. According to the Casio website:
The special-edition pink EX-Z75 will be available beginning October 2007 and can be purchased at Sears, La Curacao, Fred Meyer, BJ’s, Nexcom, AAFES, Staples, and Future Shop. The bundle package will have an MSRP of $179.99, and will proudly sponsor the National Breast Cancer Foundation. For more information, please visit http://www.casiousa.com/.