A Year of Photography: Photo #5
A Year of Photography 2013 is a project in which photographers on Tumblr are invited to select 10 - 12 photographs they have taken over the course of 2013, and talk a little bit about what they mean, if they mean anything (like poems they can be and not mean), and how they came into being. If you want to join in, post on your blog and tag your posts “A Year of Photography 2013.”
Parttimecynic (thank you Karen!) and a photographer on Flickr, James Gehrt (well worth checking out if you love black and white photos like I do), got me to thinking about a shot I took earlier in the year as I was wandering listlessly around the back yard, trolling for inspiration. I know there are days when nothing seems to inspire or there’s no satisfaction with any shots you’ve taken. I’ve had plenty of those days. Today, Karen posted an image that she felt was uninspiring, yet it still proved that her eye for composition is innate….that even when shooting something she wasn’t satisfied with, there was still something there, a geometric composition rich with possibility. Earlier today, someone reposted an exquisite image by James Gehrt on Flickr, an image he calls Caldrons. This, too, is a simple image, or rather simple geometrically, but elegant stylistically….featuring the nearly-intersecting, lighted arcs of two pots, with the rest of the pots deep in shadow. That’s when I remembered I had a similar shot I had taken that I was never satisfied with and never posted. Karen and James provided the inspiration I needed to go back and look at that shot again.
Like Karen, when I took the original shot it really didn’t do much for me. Yeah, it’s a couple of relatively empty flower pots. Big deal. I tried playing around with the image, pushing the contrasts, adding some faint sepia tones, lowering the contrast, taking out the sepia tones, then finally closing out of the image feeling frustrated, like I was trying too hard to make a better photo. What I needed was to step away from the image…..which I did for months. Then, another photographer here whose work I adore, Ned of nwalthall or Stop Time, introduced me to the Topaz BW Effects tool, which allows you to play around with a variety of tonal qualities, like platinum. So, inspired by Karen, James, and Ned, I took another look at this image, processing it a bit more using the new tool, darkening some areas, and toning down the brightness in others. As a result, I was able to produce the image here, an image that, while not perfect, I am more satisfied with.
This whole process helped me to understand what Ansel Adams means when he says that you don’t take a photograph, you make it. Of course, it helps that you see something that catches your eye to begin with, but sometimes there’s a good image waiting there in a less-than-inspiring shot that will be discovered with time when your eye can see it newly. And, yes, sometimes that doesn’t happen and you just scrap the whole endeavor. Fortunately, that didn’t happen with this image. What I also realized is how much I learn from the other photographers here and elsewhere. Thank you all for your daily inspiration, help, and support!
Thanks for always being inspiring K.