Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Photography Conundrum

I have always liked taking photographs. I received my first camera when I was about age 13. My parents took photos prior to that but not in the quantity I would wind up taking them once I got my own camera. 

I took a photography course in college. It was taught by the art department and the unspoken requirements of the class were to learn to take 'artistic' photos. Even amongst artists, what constitutes "artistic" to one person won't be "artistic" to the next person. I wanted to learn how to take and use photos for illustrative purposes as I wanted to work on a newspaper or for a magazine and photos would be used to illustrate the prose. I felt what I was learning in this course did not apply at all to what I wanted to know. It did not go well. 

You've probably noticed that most of my posts have a photo or other illustrative item attached. The power of the visual is something I learned in college. A photo reinforces what you're talking about, particularly in the smaller items. While every news photographer yearns for "the one" photo which will always be talked about and repeatedly shown year after year, having an appropriate photo for my blog makes it look better. You will know what I'm discussing when I talk cookies, but you know better when there is a photo attached. Illustrative, that's my style. 

I carry a camera around all the time. We used to, when Carole was little, head out to watch trains and take photos of trains. The seeds for her love of photography were planted then. It was still a documentary style, this is the train we saw, but there were times when the photo had an 'artistic' quality to it. The camera I used then, a film single-lens reflex camera, sits on top of my filing cabinet. There's a light leak by the lens which needs to be fixed. Needless to say, that's way low on the priority list. 
I love this little camera I have now. It's great for me to take the spontaneous photos that I like blogging about. It's got more bells and whistles than I use. I stumble upon them occasionally. I just need a camera that takes photos. If the SLR above were fixed, when I have to go on drives, like the trek to Iowa on Friday, I'd grab it for the unexpected photo. As it is, my camera is always with me. 

And this brings up the conundrum or frustration all photographers, even those who aim a camera at something and push a button, face many times in their photography lives. I approached Fort Madison from the Illinois side. The Mississippi River was smooth as a mirror. Fort Madison was perfectly reflected in the surface. The sky was clear and the sun was at my back. It was the perfect photo. Even my little camera would have taken a photo that I would have wanted to blow up and frame. 

There was no place to pull over. There is a small turn out just before the railroad bridge over the river. I knew it was there as I've stopped there before. I couldn't find it. There were three cars behind me and there is no place for them to pass me, legally. I couldn't stop. I was also late for removing this equipment according to the time table I had given myself and I think that feeling of being late caused me to miss the turn out. No, matter. It's calm today. I'll just take photos on the way home. 

The wind picked up before I left Fort Madison. The river developed small waves. The mirror was gone. It was still beautiful. I knew of another spot to stop and take a few photos, the best of which is up above, but I lost the chance for a phenomenal photo. 

It happens to every photographer. Mother Nature, kids, cats, life, does not stop while you find a place to pull over so you can take its picture. Hawks were out in force on the drive to and from my home. On the way home, I decided, that if I saw one, I'd pull over and try to photograph it. The best photo would have been the two identical hawks sitting on the light pole. I didn't see them until I was right on them. At 70 mph, I wouldn't have been able to stop and turn around to go back. The Interstate is unforgiving with turn arounds. 

I have to do a bit more travel this upcoming week. My camera will be with me. Maybe I'll have a chance to take the photo. More likely, I'll wish I could stop but I'll have to keep going. 

Beverage:  Orange Juice


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