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What Are You Photographing?

I have a new camera.

Normally I would give my new camera a workout everyday.  I would push my other tasks aside and get to know how to use the new camera properly.  That hasn’t happened.  I’ve had so many other things on my daily agenda—important things—but nothing to do with learning how to operate my new acquisition.

Recently I had a chance.

I didn’t go to new places for a new creative experience, but rather to place where I have often walked—the Cochrane Ranche trails along the Big Hill Springs Creek.  I’ve made many images while walking those trails, so I looked for similar locations to see if I could make comparable images of the same locations.  Soon I was bored with that idea.  I found the camera very easy to use as it is a newer model of what I’ve had for years.  With the technical learning done, at least done enough to handle most types of photographs, I tried to find more creative things to work on.

The light was interesting.  It wove its way through openings in the trees to create some artistic effects.  The backlighting gave me some ideas, so I went to work on that.

At one point, I was squatting close to the ground, to capture an image of some fine featured wild plants.  I learned that these are called Meadow Horsetails.  As I was composing and focussing on what I wanted, a person came long the trail, then slowed and came to complete stop behind me.

I said “Hi” but all they said was, “What the heck are you photographing?”  Their tone wasn’t inquisitive.

Still, it was a good question.  My head filled with several responses from very technical to something dismissive.  I quickly put all such ideas aside and decided I’d say what I was really up to.

“I’m photographing the light.”

That was an artistic response, but it was absolutely true.  One might say that photographs are nothing more than a record of light on an object, but on this day without the light the way it was, I didn't think there was an image to be made.

The response was curt and derisory.

“Oh,” and then, quickly, off down the trail.  If there had been more than one person I imagine there would have been a conversation about the weird guy playing with a camera and taking a photograph of nothing.

Most people I meet in situations like this aren’t artists so I’ve heard similar responses before. It doesn’t bother me any more.

Here are the images that I was seeing when I made the photographs.  There wasn’t any colour to speak of, just tones caused by the interesting light.  For this reason I made the images black and white.

My interest was in the light, and I think you can see that.

Woodland Beam

Equisetum Pratense—commonly known as Meadow Horsetail

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Jun 24

These images demonstrate the essence of light, that identifies subjects of interest which otherwise would go unnoticed.


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