My worst habit is I tend to photograph the same subject matter all the time. Not sure how many images I have snapped of that old downed tree with the snarled overhanging branches being reflected on the surface of the pond behind my house. For some reason I keep taking that same old shot over and over. I suppose thinking that one day I will actually come up with a shot of some merit using that subject. So far it hasn’t happened. Sometimes we get tunnel vision and only see what is obvious when more often than not, what is not obvious provides the greatest potential for a great photograph. What happens is that we rely too much on mechanical devices to do the work for us and fail to use our greatest assets; our eyes and our imaginations.
Your eyes are your best lens. It is thru these lenses you build the composition. Learning how to see photographically is the key. Your best filter is your imagination because employing that aspect of the photographic process is what opens your mind to all the possibilities. It is being able to see beauty amongst the ordinary and then developing the technical skills to capture it, that separates the great photographer from the average one.
Using your eyes means to see beyond what is simply visible and using your imagination resolves
being able to recognize how different light and a changing atmosphere will affect the scene. What is most important is being willing to be there when those times exist. Two favorite examples of mine are the first two images included with this post. Both were taken at the same location, a place I found several years ago in the middle of an ordinary day in the middle of the summer. On that ordinary summer day, the ordinary nature of this little valley would have been easy to overlook. But, as I gazed across the valley from my high vantage point I recognized the potential of the place. Arching behind the tree line along the bluff flowed
. I knew Barren
River was a great
place for foggy mornings. I also knew that in a few months when cooler weather
arrived that fog could potentially provide a wonderful photo op. Kentucky
Using my eyes, seeing what wasn’t there…yet…I was able to visualize something extraordinary evolving from this ordinary location. It took several pre-dawn attempts to catch the right moment, but when it happened, I was there. The moment would not have happened had I not used my most valuable lens; being able to see past the ordinary.
The last image is one I took a good number of years ago using slide transparency film. It was almost by accident how everything lined up, but what I saw visually was not what I created photographically. That came from looking beyond the ordinary, beyond what was visible, to see what was possible. It became one of the most iconic images I have ever taken and have never duplicated.
With this being the last post, I want to leave you with one final word of encouragement. The world is full of amazing opportunities, so do not settle for the simple, the ordinary. Seek out the extraordinary and use your imagination to create your own amazing images.
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