Droning On

I joined a drone club last year (or was it the year before – I can’t remember, I’m getting on in years), but none the less, I joined, and paid up my £12 annual fee…. The group is great…and you can find them here:-

Grey Arrows

A really nice group of people, who fly sensibly, and have good ideas….

I met them for the first time, face to face, at a smallish group get together up at the Humber Bridge. We chatted, exchanged ideas, admired each others drones – admired the coloured skins – admired the hyper lapse – you get the idea….

We also flew pretty much in tandem, with no-one getting in the way of anyone else…..

If you do have a drone, I highly recommend joining them.

Log on to see the picture of the day, video of the day, or search for somewhere interesting to fly….

It comes highly recommended by me – again Grey Arrows

Shooting JPG

For my entire photographic life (mostly) I’ve shot RAW files. Certainly when shooting for someone else I’ve always done it – I get more data, more colour, more of pretty much everything, which allowed a degree of laxity when it comes to the edit….

Lately (having just got a new camera a couple of months ago) I decided to try just shooting the JPG files. “It doesn’t matter if the files don’t turn out well”, I thought – let’s just play with the film simulation presets built in.

Turns out, it was a heap more fun than I ever thought it would be.

“Yes yes, I know I can alter the simulations in post, if I shoot RAW”… but that’s not the point. The point is, that it’s ‘FUN’, and I think sometimes we get bogged down so much in the intricacies of photography, that we forget it’s a hobby that we are supposed to be actually having a good time with.

Let’s try not to let the ‘rules’ get in the way…. Sometimes we have to follow them, we have to do what the competition organisers dictate – most times though we don’t…. and that’s when the real fun starts…..

At least that’s what I think….. Frankly, you can’t tell that the picture below is a JPG can you? No…… I thought not….

The ‘Bravo’ Image

I’ve recently been reading an article on photography and creativity, and what we do with it.  It mentioned a photographer called Stewart Harvey, and his brother who created the original ‘burning man’.  In the article Stewart talked about motivations in his photography.

He discusses photographic projects, and how long they can take.

“It took a long time before I (Stewart Harvey) could get out of my own way as a photographer..”  This phrase hit me on so many levels, because we tend to think that photography is all about us.. he goes on to say….

“We’re trying to put together an image that we can put in front of people so they can say ‘bravo’ – but until you get past that point, until you realise that photography is about something or someone else, do you start to get into the realm of doing photography that someone else is going to care about, because in the long run, the only person that ever cared about the photography of you and me was us, and in order for other people to care, your photography has to be about something that’s relevant – and relevancy isn’t just the world of art”.

Taking this analogy a bit further, I spent some time considering the things I say when I judge photographic competitions, and what other judges say in turn.  

We need to consider what makes a person ‘get’ your photograph and makes them love it.  Honestly it’s not the photograph itself, that’s just a part.  It’s actually the state of mind of the judge / viewer at the time.  

I often say at the end of an evening that the winning picture is honestly a good one, from my point of view – the truth is that on a different evening, or a different time of day, or a different mood, a different picture might come out on top.  

Only a couple of nights ago, I listened to a highly respected judge who had been looking at the pictures entered for a few days in advance.  They had been marked early, but a comment was made half way through “I’ve marked these, but frankly I’m changing the marks as I work through this evening.”

Were the winning images the ‘bravo’ photographs, or did they send a message to the judge who had to offer comments and scores on the night?  I ask this even though one of the comments was “the photographer was very brave to enter this one….”

Go Your Own Way

Do what you think is right…. go your own way……. forge your own path……. Look at what is in front on you, right now….. and shoot it……..

Spend too much time worrying about what other people think, and you won’t do it…. be instinctive, be brave. Shoot what you see…..

It’s about waiting sometimes to see what will happen, and then changing your attitude to fit the scene. Not the other way round.

When Criticism Comes Along…

Whenever someone says something about one of your pictures, and you don’t like it – then that’s a shame, but frankly, it’s not the end of the world.

You should be able to take it on the nose, and deal with it, because photography and art is so personal and subjective. Opinions differ and we should all be prepared to be ‘wrong’.

To say that you ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ something though, isn’t criticism, it’s an opinion, and not critique.

If I take a photo, and like it, it really won’t follow that anyone else will. They may neither appreciate nor understand it at all.

The images I take are sometimes very personal, and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to understand my motivation in taking them at all.  This though is a good thing.  I’ve done my best with something that interests me, and if someone else doesn’t like it, then that’s the way life is, and I have to live with that.

Remember that just because a person doesn’t like your photograph, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.  What you can’t do is let them influence you into doing something that ‘they’ like but you do not.  Take suggestions on board yes, have a go at new things, change your image if you must, or if you think it really will help, but don’t change just ‘because’ they said so.

You really don’t have to worry about what other folk think – just enjoy your own work……

Look for the ordinary stuff

I chanced upon this picture when I was walking the beach one day. I can’t even remember quite where it was now. Once I’d seen it though, I just had to get the image before it was lost forever.

The average person would walk on probably, take no notice of what could be considered a bit of rubbish. However, the one who stops and takes notice could be the one who sees things where others would say there is nothing to photograph. They walk on unknowing what they have missed.

It is our job as photographers to see what others don’t, we must learn to be aware of what is around us, and stop saying there is nothing to shoot.

There’s nothing to Shoot

I hear it over and over – there’s nothing here, there’s nothing to take pictures of. Why are we here?

There’s ALWAYS something that you can do, something that will just attract your attention and simply must be shot

This photograph came whilst I was just standing around waiting for my other half. There was just something about the way the guys were sitting, and the colours that caught my eye. Two seconds later it was all over, as the phone text ended, and customers arrived for their sled ride down the hill.

Moral – shoot whilst you are waiting for something else to happen….

Being ‘At Home’

I live in an almost forgotten County – Lincolnshire – photographers running workshops don’t come here much. I asked one why, and he said it was because there was nothing to photograph, nothing to see, nothing to do…..

We had a speaker at the camera club the other week – Gareth Martin from Wales – he talks a lot about places where there is nothing to shoot. He shared a story about a professional photographer with a ‘one to one’ client. They shied away from one area as there was nothing of interest – apart from the excellent images that Gareth showed us that day.

Those who are familiar with the places they live can sometimes be complacent, that there is really ‘nothing’ to see or photograph. Those who are familiar, but treat their homes as a tourist would can always find something…

We should try to photograph the experience of being somewhere. Forget the postcard views, and the tripod holes others have made, and make your photograph not of it, but ABOUT it. Look around at where you live and shoot it like you’ve never seen it before.

Wait for the weather, and look around at what you see… head for the hills – or the beach, or the town…..

Seek the familiar unfamiliar, and enjoy……

Treat your photography as something new and exciting. Don’t describe your images in terms of technicalities, or gear. Think about your emotions on the day, the love of the subject, or place – be at peace with yourself. Smile..

Minor White said
“I seek out places where it can happen readily, such as deserts or mountains, or solitary areas, or by myself with a seashell, and while I’m there get into the state of mind where I’m more open than usual. I’m waiting, I’m listening. I go to those places, and get myself ready through meditation. Through being quiet, and willing to wait, I can begin to see the inner man and the essence of the subject in front of me.. watching the way the current moves a blade of grass – sometimes I’ve seen that happen and it has just turned me inside out…

Taking Time

Winter is just starting to fade a little. We’ve had snow, ice and blisteringly cold winds. After several weeks of cold weather, we are starting to see the season gradually change. Already I have seen the first snowdrops pushing their heads above ground.

This is now, this is living, this is the earth showing that there is survival after weeks of intense cold, and it makes me feel better for it.

As I write, I listen to the wind in the trees outside the window, I see the blue sky and a few scudding clouds. Horses stroll around the field, chewing on hay put out a few days ago. The trees are still bare, but life is still out there, and the fresh (but still cold) air holds a promise of Spring. All else is quiet, (apart from the breathing of my old dog), and I appreciate the companionship. I enjoy the day (a Tuesday as it happens), and remember that people have to sit in an office, or shop or factory whilst I’m here experiencing this…..

Where I will end up, I don’t know, and really try not to worry about it. My goal is to live life as long as I can, as healthily as I can, and to enjoy my photography.

People say to me that they wish they could witness, or photograph a dawn, or a sunset – and to those able enough to get out – then go and do it. Turn off the television, turn off your computer and do it. Set your alarm for morning, get your camera and go out – NOW. If you want to know what the wind feels like on your face, just go stand outside – even if only for a little while.

Turn off your ‘smart’ phone, and take in the silence – not agonise over the ‘pings’..

I’ve been for a walk in the woods, just me and the dogs. The temperature is cold, the sparrows are infesting the hedgerows, and everything smelt great. I left my phone at home!