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My Introspection

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My Introspection

I'd like to thank everyone who has perused my photography and an extra thank you to those who were kind enough to leave comments. I'm glad to see my works being enjoyed. I'm in the process of moving all of my works here to FAA. Of course the process means looking at the older images again, keeping some, reprocessing a few, and then dumping others. Like cleaning house, an individualís tastes change, skills improve and personal level of acceptable quality, hopefully, moves up.

It's a time and experience thing. When you first start showing your work you try really hard to get as much as possible out there into the world to get that exposure. In these early days you think you're doing well with the amazing amount of output. And with the way the odds work, you actually end up with some awesome images. However, with time, more experience and the ever growing desire to spend more time outside away from the computer, you begin to study your works a bit more. You find it really hard to find your wonderful images amongst the multitude of OK images. This is when you change from how much work can I put out to how can I help my works stand out. You start looking seriously at the work of other artists to find out how it differs from yours. You start reading magazine/online critiques of art works to see if they have tips or information you may use to improve your work. I mean the "real" critiques, not just the "Oh that's wonderful" comments folks post on some sites in the hopes you'll reciprocate with a similar nice comment on their work. I mean the critiques where they actually suggest you could have cropped the image a different way, or "why does your horizon lean left in all your pictures, don't you own a tripod?" Later Iíll have another blog entry to cover my philosophy on comments and critiques.

What have I learned during this introspection? I learned I now have some definite opinions of what makes a good image. First, my pet peeve is focus. This is probably due to my being near sighted and never seeing the world in focus until I received my first pair of glasses in middle school. In my meanderings of various online galleries I've seen many excellent works where the focus is impeccable and so the details are amazing. These are the ones I spend more time studying/admiring. I have also seen some works with wonderful composition, colors, tones and subject matter. However, closer inspection shows the details blurred due to poor focus. I'm not just talking about photography. I've found paintings and sketches that were poorly photographed which really detracts from the original work. In my mind, if you're an artist using paint, pencil, ink , etc. and you've spent hours with tool of choice in hand creating a piece of work you're proud enough of to display to the world, then get someone with a quality camera and sufficient skills to correctly capture the essence of your art. When you review the images, be very, very picky. It's your work that will suffer if you're not. When I zoom in to an image of a painting I expect to clearly see the brush strokes that are the soul of the work. There are plenty of online articles that explain how a piece of art should be digitally captured. Now, back to the photographers; there are too many gadgets and even more "how to" articles out there for improving focus and minimizing blurring for us to be posting fuzzy images. I used to try and hand hold my camera for all my pictures with hit and miss success. Today I believe collecting a bunch of fuzzy pictures because I'm too lazy or proud to carry/use a tripod or other stabilizing device is a waste of my time, and every day I find I have less of that to waste.

I also found Iíve moved more from just capturing the shot towards creating an image. I thought having had years of art training that I would have automatically stepped right into using good composition techniques when using a camera. Not so. That little dot in the middle of the focus frame has a way of driving oneís brain to cause you to center your subjects on it. Until we learn to start thinking about the final image first, we have a tendency to use the camera like a rifle scope and take aim at the subject. Again this is where taking oneís time can make the difference. If the situation allows it, use basic composition guidelines in the camera when taking the picture. Look around the subject for distractions before clicking the shutter. Move the subject or yourself as necessary to improve the image. Get the best image you can before pressing the shutter button. This will save you time on the computer. There are situations where you only have time to aim and fire. However, just because time was not on your side at the shoot doesnít mean you canít turn a shot into a fine image. I may capture a shot of a bird in flight with the camera but, I will create an image of a bird in flight on the computer. This is done using the crop tool in your software. Sometimes trimming a little here and a little there will vastly improve an image.

I have also found that Iím keeping fewer of my earlier images than I expected due to the factors I stated above. Images that wowed me when I originally processed them now make me chuckle as I move them into the bit bucket. A few Iíve revived with my improved software and workflow skills, but Iíve noticed quite a few just canít be helped. In the end I may have fewer images to show but theyíll better represent my current interests and skills.

Now the big question, when will I be done? I donít think this process once started can ever be done. As I go through my images I not only improve and discard some I discover a few I originally overlooked. On top of this Iím still adding new images to my collection. These newer images will most likely become my new standards against which to measure my older ones. As you can see this becomes a vicious never ending cycle as long as Iím pressing that shutter release and learning new ways to improve my skills and therefore my art. Good thing I love this hobby!

Thank you for following my work and feel free to leave comments or suggestions.