The greatest joy of photography for me is not about the latest equipment, the biggest sensor, the fastest lens or the lightest tripod. I’m not too bothered about owning the latest version of Photoshop or Elements. It’s not even about producing a photograph that I can hang on the wall or publish in my blog.
The joy is being totally immersed in the moment. The creation of something new anchors me to The Now. It switches off the distractions of the past and future, the worries and annoyances of everyday life and immerses me in the present.
When I am really taking a photograph, as opposed to firing off a quick snap (which I’ll do too) taking the photo becomes everything.
I stop and really take in my subject. I don’t shoot, not just yet. I walk around, standing tall and crouching low. I examine how the light plays on the textures from different angles. Reaching out I touch. How does it feel? I close my eyes, taste the air and listen to the sounds. This moment is so much more than the image I am going to take.
I open my eyes and look at the environment around the subject, thinking about how it will change when I adjust the aperture and shutter speed. Is that background going to be a distraction or add context? Will slowing the shutter speed with a filter create an attractive blur? Will adding a polarizing filter take the glare from the wet rock?
Which focal length will be best to capture the shot. What ISO, shutter speed and aperture will bring the results. I even think about how I am going to develop the picture at home. Will it be black and white or colour? Will I creatively crop the image? Will I add a tone or a vignette?
Now I set up my camera. I put it on the tripod. Standing in the perfect spot I hold my eye to the viewfinder and look around the fame. Do I see what I expected? Not quite? I move slightly to the right and recompose the picture. I allow myself to take just one frame. Breath in, breath out and then gently squeeze the shutter release. I listen to the sound of the camera; that satisfying mechanical click.
I don’t look at the result – not just yet. I stop and think about what I expect to see. Then I look.
Does the composition and the exposure match what I saw in my mind’s eye? If not, why not? What do I need to change to get the result I was seeking? I zoom in on the display. Is the image sharp in the right places? Is the image properly composed? Do I need to shoot it again?
Now I go home and upload the image. I close my eyes again and remember taking the shot. Remember the smells, the sounds and the lighting. I think about how I envisaged the final image to be.
I sink myself into the processing.
Not every frame makes the grade, but so what? That doesn’t matter. It was all about immersing myself in that moment.
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