America’s Civil War pitted the Confederate Army from most southern states against the Federal Army from the nothern states. Besides being a war of ideology and interpretation of the Constitution it also placed families, friends and allies against each other – a social upheaval. That is just a synopsis, and as much as I could turn the entire post into a history lesson, that is not my intention.
I wanted to share an image I took at a Civil War Re-enactment held at Jamesville Beach over the course of the summer. A rag-tag group of Confederate soldiers had assembled for a briefing prior to going of to “war”. I caught this scene, “Boots of Valor”, while they were all assembled, receiving their instructions with the riffle boots all aligned. There was one officer who stood out as he was the only one standing at attention receiving orders. His attentiveness was also apparent in his posture. Can you guess which boots are his?
Anyway, I present to you “Boots of Valor”. Feel free to comment.
Flamenco, the popular Spanish dance with its very energetic and graceful moves is also the Spanish word for Flamingo; And, that is the name of my latest image – Flamenco.
Although I don’t focus on the energy of the flamingoes in this shot, I do focus on capturing their gracefulness especially with the one in the foreground with its neck curved back on itself and its beak partially hidden from view. The flamingoes in the background take up postures which also draw attention to the idea of gracefulness while their reflections shimmer below them. If you think I have gone overboard in my description of the images, you are probably right. I enjoyed taking the photo and I think it is one of my favourites for the summer. I plan to make it visible on the gallery and I plan to have it available for purchase if anyone is interested but for now I am just showing it off on the blog.
In closing, I have always been intrigued by the dance and I think that intrigue has been captured in the photo as I aimed to emphasize the grace, beauty and aesthetic appeal of Flamenco. Enjoy!
A friend once asked me, “Do you want to become good in photography?; Take 10,000 photos!” I am guessing by photo 10,001 I would have taken so many photos that I would have started developing my own unique style and would have learned how to deal with different types of conditions. Well, I don’t think that is enough anymore. With the development of digital cameras, a lot of things are possible now that was not possible with film cameras such as taken an unmanageable amount of photographs.
Yes, the very strength of using digital cameras – the ability to take an almost unlimited amount of photographs – is probably its biggest road block keeping you from becoming a better photographer. Let me see if I can explain better by means of an analogy. Imagine that you are studying for an entrance exam into some elite University. You have a maximum of three attempts and then you will not be considered again because you either have it or you don’t. Well, given that you have so few chances to success you are going to work you heart out to make sure that when you get into that exam room there isn’t one question you can’t answer or for which you are not prepared to deduce and solve. In short, you put a lot more effort into making the most of the limited opportunities. Now, Imagine the situation was relaxed. You can take as many shots at the entrance exam as you want, there are no consequences to failing and there is no pressure – whether internally or externally – to do the best that you can. Then you are going to produce lackluster work.
Perhaps, the restrictions of the old film camera forced us to think twice or more deeply when we took a photograph because we knew that each roll of film cost tons to develop. If that restriction still existed then perhaps after 10,000 photographs I would be at the top of my game. But, with digital photography – that’s it isn’t enough anymore. So how can we take better photographs and improve – Take each shot like it counts.
In a world where regular commercial photography is moving more and more toward digital photography, is it worth the time investing in learning about film photography? The answer is a resounding, Yes. And, I will explain why.
Recently, I acquired a book on photography. The author is primarily a film photographer but this edition of his book has been updated for the digital photography era. So, it discusses elements which are important to both film and digital photographers. However, in reading about the book I have learned a lot more about the zone system and its uses beyond simply taking a properly exposed print. I have learned how the differences in proper exposure for different objects in a scene can be harmonized through the zone system and how the zone system translates into a system for properly developing the prints. I have also finally realized why persons choose to expose for the highlights most times than to underexpose the images.
The book also goes on to explain the use of coloured filters and their significance to black and white photography. It also explains how the effects of the filter can help to help adjust an exposure to ensure that all elements within the frame can be rendered within the dynamic range of the film (digital sensor). It will be very unlikely that I will use coloured filters to generate toning effects in my black and white. I will more than likely resort to using basic software for those purposes. But, even for photographs which I will never convert to black and white, I know how to correct more of the colour balance in those photos.
I agree that I will never put a great deal of the techniques to use, but it is good to know where the common dos and don’t of photography come from and what their purpose were. I think it is important to understand whether those concepts still hold their own in the digital era of photography or whether they have become antiquated.
If anyone is interested in learning a little more of what I am talking about I recommend picking up the book “The Art of Photography – An Approach to Personal Expression” by Bruce Barnbaum. I will warn you early that it is a long read and a lot of it is based around the author’s tastes and interests but he certainly explains in depth the significance of different practices in photography, where they originate and how they can be applied for artistic expression.
Ever look at a magazine cover and you are immediately awestruck but after the third review the photo has lost its impact. But then, there are some photographs you see in some magazines or calendars which are always able to spur your emotions no matter how many times you see it? That is a timeless photograph.
We have seen many examples of these photographs. Dorothea Lange gave us “Migrant Mother”; Ansel Adams gave us “Moonrise, Hernandez, Mexico”; Garry Winogrand gave us some visually amazing photographs, some if which were untitled. Despite the fact that these photos were taken long ago, these photos have a quality which continues to make them worthy of admiration and review. What is this quality/qualities that make these images enduring?
Is it the monochromatic tone, the composition, the quality of light, the fresh point of view? Perhaps it is all of the above. Certainly the photographer’s excelled at those areas and in many more and provided us with a new way of seeing things. A vision which has endured for decades without fading.
In spite of the flood of photographs I see being produced by amateur and professional alike, few tend to have that timeless quality of the masters. My argument here is not that the photograph needs to be black and white or made with a medium format camera or made everyday. But, I think more photographers need to think a little more of what they are shooting when they look through the viewfinder in making a photograph which fits their vision.
Fine Art Nature and Outdoor Lifestyle Photographer