A Photo Lesson in Seeing

TV Comm 02One of those TV commercials for a medicine aimed at senior citizens filmed on a coastal setting, shows a woman with a pretty expensive camera squatting close to an old fence, shooting what is apparently a close-up of a plant or whatever.  But she is seemingly oblivious to the obvious.  She is squatting in the middle of the real picture…

Allow me to elucidate. In the image below, (fig 1 & 1a) we see a fence-line repleat with interesting shadow detail.  In the advertisement video, our actor, who is playing a photographer, is shooting from a low point of view (POV) at something off to image right.  We assume a plant or something.  (See fig 2). IMHO, she is in the middle of the actual what-should-be-captured segment of the video.

Sand Fence #2So the point I’m trying to make is that you must look at your surroundings, try to see the big picture when you’re shooting images.  The commercial has her handling what appears to be a substantial investment in equipment.  Makes another point.  Good equipment can’t take good pictures by itself.  Good equipment will not make an amateur into a pro, although there are a lot of people who think expensive equipment and toys will automatically make them a pro..  They are not professionals.  We call them commercial photographers. Someone who takes pictures for money.

Unlike a Professional Photographer, who uses the best equipment he or she can to make and sell fine art.  This includes either a darkroom, and/or a good computer with a good imagery program, like Photoshop .  The key word in this paragraph is “sell”.

Now before you old-times tell me that Ansel Adams used a Kodak Brownie, remember a few things.  One.  When the Brownie came out, is was a very nice medium format camera, with good glass.  Two.  If I was still in the biz, and wanted to use a wet darkroom (film) I might use somethink like that for a travel camera… go out and shoot some test imagery to set up for a large format rig later. Three: Almost every image of his that is considered art was shot with nothing smaller than a Hasselblad, (Medium Format) and most of the imagery was created with a view camera, (Large Format)

An aside here.  I am the guy who wasn’t Ansel Adam’s assistant.  I can’t tell you how many wannabee pros that I’ve met, claim they were AA’s assistant.  Probably the closest anyone got from this group was taking a three day seminar in Yosemite from the Master.  While we’re on the subject, Ansel was a top photographer, but his famous master artistry came about in his darkroom.

I almost fell victim to the same thing.  I was “on assignment” at tiny Piney Lake in Colorado.Piney Lake I was shooting a great image of rental canoes, (see Fig 3) busily getting variations on the theme, because I knew that what I was looking at through the lens was a killer image.  This one was gonna kick some serious ass!

Shooting medium format at the time, a full 6×7 image in Fujichrome 64.  I shot a full two rolls of 220 size, knowing that in this case, on this shot, film cost and lab costs were of no, repeat no, significance.  In the middle of my snapping revery, my wife tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Look behind you.”

I looked and saw another magnificent image of a silhouetted treeline with a firey red fog settling over in for the evening.  All I had to do was turn the camera 180 degrees, and a bit of tilt, change the EV, and I got some great images there, too.  For a few minutes because of the rapidity of the light change, I was going back and forth between images, gettin’ em both.

You should be using a tripod. You have a moveable head on that tripod. It can swivel a full 360 degrees.  You should use your own head swivel the same…

ReflectionsRed clouds


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