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Thursday, April 8, 2010

My path with the art of photography

After collecting a multitude of lenses and camera accessories over the years, I have come to the general conclusion that a quote I hear years ago about photography is sadly accurate. "Most lenses are better than most photographers" --- simply stated it is not just the equipment, but more obviously the person behind the glass that will enhance, diminish or maximize the capabilities of any given lens.

The understanding of exposure, composition and good technique still overshadows the average consumer & their ineptitude at understanding what photography truly is --- an art. Sure anyone can press a shutter button, capture light onto a sensor and call that photography --- but is that the epitome of the effort required to join the ranks of those who dedicate their lives to showcasing moments professionally?

I have been humbled throughout my 15 year journey with photography. I have literally run the gamut on equipment and results. I have used early DSLRs that sell for <$300 today with simple kit lenses and landed front-page showcases with major metropolitan newspapers. In contrast, I have used 600mm f/4 lenses on expensive gimbal tripods & ended up with photos that wouldn't make the cut as frame inserts at a dollar store.

I have gone full circle & retro in some areas. In lieu of the latest autofocus, I now use a 40 year old Nikkor AI-S manual focus lens for all of my macro shots. I have taken the time to appreciate the quality of the older vintage equipment that is lost in the mass-market production of today's equipment. I have taken the time to master the proper understanding of light and its affect on the final image.

I have also learned that photography is as much a journey as it is a destination. What I mean is that I have set out numerous times with a strict time limit and an agenda only to realize that life is not on my time & not at my whim. I have learned that beauty is subjective & observing the everyday moments of life is truly what is worth capturing. Now, what I do is simply set out without an agenda, letting nature & the timeless essence of life unfold on its own accord, hoping that I am lucky enough to be part of a special moment & then capture it.

Some photographers see only what is in front of them, only what the world wants them to see. The white picket fence, the family photo in front of the oak tree at the park, the staged child graduation photo are all good examples of allowing the world to dictate your photographic moments.

Learn to filter out the average to find magic in the shadows. Learn to listen to the wind, watch the rustling in the leaves, take your time to observe the unfolding simplicity of our world & in those things, you will find your true photos worth keeping. It is hard when you literally are on a time limit or on a vacation, but even in these events, make time to see life on its terms --- get up extremely early, get in position when nature wakes up from its peaceful slumber.

Realize that life is as much about experiencing the moments, as capturing them.
After losing over 20,000 photos during hurricane Katrina, I can attest to the fact
that life is indeed precious & sometimes the only snapshots you have left are the ones written on your heart.

Go out & explore life & find the moments you seek.
Then if you are fortunate, those same moments will also capture you. :)

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