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 The lanterns at Rocky Butte in Portland form a nice silhouette against the orange sky of sunset.

 Often I approach photography indirectly.  That’s to say, instead of marching right up to the hilltop park and looking out for a vista to photograph, I poked around at the base of the rock walls for awhile, looking for a different perspective, looking for foreground.  I wound up finding nice silhouettes to photograph.

  But it’s my shyness that prompted me to do that, honestly.  I heard a bunch of boisterous people on top, the sound of laughing girls, and avoided going up there until things were quieter.  But then as I walked around down below, despite having a more obstructed view of the river and city below, I sensed that the developing color in the sky would make a nice image if there was an interesting subject to set against the sky in silhouette.  The lanterns were an obvious choice.

  It’s interesting how all this passes through the mind subconsciously.  Many how-to books on photography read very much like what I just wrote.  But when I was out there with my camera, my mind was not preoccupied with these thoughts.  In hindsight I realize that what I was after was something interesting to photograph, and by doing my usual thing (avoiding the obvious choices, avoiding people), I was able to position myself for a fairly unique perspective.  But at the time, my mind was pretty much just idling while my eyes worked over my surroundings, that is until it was time to position the tripod just so, deal with the equipment, and so forth.  Then my mind was on doing that quickly and well.

  It’s funny how chaotic and unplanned, maybe organic, the process of finding good images is for me, and how the act of setting up and taking the photo is very much like work.  I’m finding I take a little more time looking around than I did in the past.  That’s a good thing, I suppose.  I like my process, in general.  I would only like to add some planning and organization, in order to benefit from that aspect of good photography.  This is to avoid frequent frustration, because, for example, I am not in position to catch the perfect evening light.  But I certainly disagree with photographers who spout off about good photography resulting from good planning, research and the like.  Research to a great extent exposes you to ideas that someone has already had.  It gets you to the same locations, offering the same photos as everyone else. 

 I really want to keep the organic and chaotic nature of much of my photography, that which is a direct result of my screwball borderline loner personality.  I just need to add a bit of organization and planning to that core process.  I think it is what gets me the occasional stunning image.  And I really feel that I often take pictures that are very different from that of most others, just by virtue of arriving at a spot and diving in, without the recommended internet search.  This applies to my travel photography as well, where I photograph people much more.  It’s a very personal process, whether going for people, animals, or landscapes.


Posted June 8, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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