The temperature hung around freezing for over a week and I responded by staying indoors in the warmth and comfort of a controlled climate, watching the world through my protective window until I just couldn’t stand it anymore.
Grabbing my cameras and layering up for the cold, I set out to see a waterfall that I wanted to photograph. A few inches of new snow-covered the trail, and the blank canvas of white made it clear no other soul was walking the path ahead of me. The winter blanket provided a sound dampening layer to the forest floor around me and the silence broken only by the crunch of my boots and the occasional falling icicles from the branches high above me.
I heard the falling water long before I saw it. Making my way carefully down the slippery trail, the river came into view and then the target of the journey.
Heavy sheets of ice hung from the rock walls alongside the waterfall, building slowly from the freezing mist that danced with the wind in the small canyon; coating the ground and the trail that passed behind the cascade as well. A clear challenge presented itself. The best angle to photograph this scene was on the other side of the river. The trail to get there passed behind the waterfall and was clearly covered in thick ice. I cautiously started to navigate the obstacle course and very quickly realized that I was setting myself up for failure. The path had an almost imperceivable slope that announced itself with clarity once I started down it, moving me toward the wall of water and associated freezing river. I just wasn’t in the mood to go for a cold swim.
I re-evaluated my situation and gave myself a conservative 20% success rate of making it through this part of the journey unscathed; and then I quickly but carefully turned around.
I backtracked down the river and found a much more pleasant crossing point and did some off-trail navigating to get to where I wanted to shoot from. The picture above was one of the many I took that day.
I face new challenges everyday. Some of them are self-imposed and some of them present unexpectedly. Few are life threatening and most are easily negotiated. I look forward to each one of these challenges because they are what help me to continually develop my sense of judgement, they strengthen my self-worth, and they create a positive history of accomplishment or failure.
Positive failure? Yes. I don’t ever see failure as a bad thing for me; because I never fail by choice and I never fail from giving up. When I fail it’s only the result of my best efforts not being successful and does not reflect on my character or my abilities. With each, I have a new foundation of knowledge and a new skill set to learn.
The people who need to fear failure are those who use it an excuse to stop trying. I welcome it as a reason to try harder.
I am thankful for the opportunity to wake up each morning and know that by choice, I am always walking the path to success. The slippery slopes I wander upon may create the need for me to change direction, but they don’t require me to give up on the goal of the journey and with determination I keep moving forward.
Some of you may recognize this as a rerun of one of my previous blog postings, but it’s one of my favorites so I updated it to give it new life.
It rained the other day. Hard.
I like the rainy days, especially if there is a thunderstorm attached. There is something about a good thunderstorm that stimulates the senses; being able to feel the thunder, see the lightening, hear the rain, and smell the clean air. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sunny warm days too, but I find nothing depressing about a good summer thunderstorm The spirit in the storm is somehow invigorating.
As usual, I had my camera with me while out experiencing the storm. I decided to stop driving for a few minutes to be able to enjoy the symphony of the rain with the companion light show…and because I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me while I was moving.
Out the window, the storm was in full force: The pouring rain, the rumbling thunder, the hurried wind. That wind was grabbing rain drops and splashing them across the pavement like a handful of pennies scattered across the floor. The trees were twisting and flailing to the beat of the storm with the strobes of lightening flashing to create motionless moments in chaotic rhythm.
I wanted a picture that captured the vision I was seeing. I pointed the camera, framed the composition, and snapped the perfect shot.
Except the camera, in all its infinite wisdom and technology, focused on the raindrops running across the window I was shooting through. It had no interest in what I wanted it to focus on. It didn’t ask, but just assumed that is what I wanted it to do. I was in such a hurry to get the perfect shot that I didn’t bother to stop and tell it what I wanted it to focus on either.
The camera and I both had the same view, reviewed the same sight picture, but ended up focusing on two completely different things. The picture I wanted and the picture the camera captured were not the same.
How interesting it is that metaphors for life just jump out and grab me sometimes.
Many times I am presented with the opportunity to stand next to someone else, look at exactly the same path ahead as they see, but focus on a completely different part of the journey. Our sight was the same, but our vision was not. When we moved to capture the vision we each saw, there was quite a difference in the final picture we both produced, or maybe the picture never developed for either of us.
Clarity is more than just clear vision. I believe it requires a sharper focus. A defined goal and the attention to detail that shows the course, the plan, and the intended outcome. I need to make sure I am focused correctly before I take the next action or the results may be surprising…and not always in a good way.
♦PhotoTIp♦ Focus can add dramatic effects to photos. Blurring the background can create a strong focal point in the foreground subject. Blurring the fringes of a photograph help to define your subject better. Sometime blur can show motion in a still photo. Slowing down the shutter speed on moving water causes it to get a soft, silky appearance. With autofocus, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you and the camera have the same focus point in mind before taking the picture.
Glass is a rather unique substance. Some debate it as a solid or a very viscous liquid (although the myth that it flows over time seems to have been debunked). That debate can go on somewhere else with the science minded crowd. For me, glass provides the lens for my camera and can provide a new perspective for a picture perfect moment.
Originally, I was admiring this old building with unique blue bricks and an aged wooden structure. As I continued to contemplated what angle I wanted to shoot, my attention slowly changed from the building and windows to the wall of trees I was really seeing in the glass. The reflection became the subject and the picture it provided became the story I wanted to tell. Large, old trees that stood and watched this building go up, live it’s life, and then go dormant and abandoned; happened on by a traveling photo-philosopher. The trees continue to stand in audience of passing time as it weathers the building they shadow.
I realize in life; some days I will focus on a problem, a challenge or an issue too long and just can’t seem to figure out what needs to change to move forward. I know from experience it is those times that I must step back and reflect on what my goal really is, not the challenge, to determine how I can adjust my actions to better see my intended outcome. I use reflection to update my perspective and it helps me to get a clearer direction.
Don’t miss the reflections. Sometimes they are the source of the answers we seek.
♦Photo Tip♦ When you are wandering around with your camera…or your phone…to take pictures, don’t forget to pay attention to the shiny things that have a reflection; water, windows, polished metal, etc. Sometimes the most interesting pictures show up as a reflection on something else when by themselves they wouldn’t necessarily make a great photo–like the trees in the picture above.
An obvious statement I know, but necessary for this beginning.
Welcome to a road map for new perspective. A safe place to change your mind. An opportunity to look at your world differently…and it comes with a bonus. Contemplation combined with casual photography pointers. Does it get any better?
I think photography is more than just taking pictures. I believe that we take a picture of something because the subject of our focus holds a purpose or has some meaning. Otherwise, why bother to capture it in a photo?
So I want to create a space that takes my pictures and tells their story, or shows their meaning, or maybe provides some insight to the way we can perceive the world around us…and the bonus; ideas for you to use if you want to make your pictures stand out from everyone else’s as more interesting, more exciting, more pleasant to look at.
Take this photo, for instance. It shows the horizon and a setting sun viewed from a set vantage point. If I were able to continually move forward from this spot, the horizon moves and the sun won’t set; so I must remember that a horizon is nothing more than the limit of my current sight. If I change my perspective, the horizon associated with it changes as well. If I sit still, I define my horizon and I set the limit of what I wish to see.
Time to move the horizon.
♦Photo tip♦ When you take a picture, don’t let the horizon cut through the middle of the photo. It looks better if you make it level but keep it in the top third or bottom third of your pictures.