Friday, April 10, 2009

Out There

"It's not about the camera. It's the image that counts." That's a comment I've seen so many times from a collection of successful, outstanding photographers. And as I play with the technological marvel of my own camera, I try to keep in mind that it's just a tool, a means to an image that will move not only myself, but someone else somewhere in the world.

The image above is from a cool, hazy day back in March. With patches of snow and ice still laying across everything, it was nice enough to venture out past the Coast Guard station and Grand Marais harbor to the breakwall that connects Artist's Point and the lighthouse. Looking out over the rock island and Lake Superior to a pale horizon that marked the break between water and sky, I knew there had to be a picture that might be worth the time it would take to find. So I set my camera up on the tripod with the self timer at 20 seconds, pressed the shutter button and ran out to a spot on the rocks. Over and over I did that, running back and forth, checking the image on the screen, pressing the shutter button again and running back out to the rocks, bracketing exposures as I went.

Predictably, even with the range of exposures I collected and the care with how I composed the shot, the image straight from the camera was . . . well, honestly pretty blah. I let it set idle in the computer for several weeks, until last night when I decided to take another look. I tweaked the curves, the contrast, the sharpening, I cropped, I un-cropped and then started digging into the Photoshop filters. More tweaking, more experimentation, more playing until this particular image emerged and I started thinking, maybe this is it. Quite frankly, it looks more like a painting, or a colored pencil drawing, even a cartoon, but finally exhibits some of the mood I felt when I was standing at the edge of Lake Superior, looking out there. One thing I've noticed is that the bigger it is, the better it looks. So click on the image, watch it expand on your screen and see if the color, texture and feeling of space speak to you at all.

As I try to grow as a photographer, I study what others are doing. Off to one side of this blog is a list of other blogs I follow. Chase Jarvis is a photographer based out of Seattle. I think he's only in his thirties, but he's reached a pinnacle of success I salivate over. What makes him so interesting beyond his creative talent with a camera and business sense, is his personality and sheer enthusiasm. The guy moves forward by digging into the world and sharing his own world with just about anyone who asks. He's one of those intoxicating types who vibrates positive energy, a pied piper of fun and meaningful pursuits. On his own blog he recently included information about another photographer, Doug Menuez.

I pulled up Menuez's blog where he ruminates about his search for those special images, not just good pictures, but images that have meaning in the world. Then I pulled up his website and looked through his work resulting from some thirty years as a photographer. The greatest percentage of his work is black and white and astonishing in its depth. It's all there, thought provoking, cute, humorous, sometimes sad, exhibiting many aspects of the human condition, a beautiful range of work that is admirable and inspirational.

So with that in mind, I'll keep looking for my own special images. Keep moving, learning, sharing. Some of those images are right in front of me. Some of the others, the really special ones, are out there.

No comments: