Friday, July 16, 2010

Photography is for the Birds

Photography is for the birds.


The problem I have with shooting birds is that I already know what a bird it supposed to look like. The mark of lightness in feathering…and down. Staunch (and slight) leggings with defined gnarl and nail. These are details that could be sought after, with great care, and displayed for artistic recording’s sake. Maybe if I’m diligent enough, I could capture a fish in the mouth, or in talons. But like I said, I already know what to expect from this.

Everyone else is doing it…why shouldn’t I? I’m quite sure that there are lots of good reasons to create this way. Why else would everyone be doing it?

For me, the answer does not begin with what everyone else does, or expects. This conundrum is only answered from within.

To work within an impressionistic approach means the set up and execution is every bit as tedious and attentive-intensive as any other technique, but with less results.

The decision to move a camera (or to multiply exposures) during the capture may seem ludicrous to some. It is a way for others, an avenue to create an essence of the vision. That vision is the culmination of what is set before the artist, and the artist’s interpretation and re-creation of the affect of the visual experience. Like other artists, there is color and tones, lines, shapes and of course lighting to consider.

What and how these elements affect the artist at that very moment is the message we try to convey.

A bird, in its own right, is a beautiful complex creature, whose image alone may stand as a work. But it is the impressionist’s vision of how that beauty interacts with all the available surroundings that drives the message.

So decisions are made…background….foreground…”subject” and how much detail is sought. Longer exposure? Multiple exposures? ISO grain? Kelvin? B&W?

It is not until then that the work starts. Sometimes the visionary’s message is accomplished, sometimes not. Sometimes, the bird flies off during that last part of the message building…and all is lost, not unlike traditional photography. Failure rates are increased, but the impressionist expects this and moves on to the next opportunity.

These rules and restraints apply to all impressions, landscape, portrait…and just try to work impressions with white water elements messing up the exposure values. Failures to many. Hurdles for the impressionist.

At some point, there are “successes”, and the impressionist tears up a little from the sweat and failures it took to deliver this message of love of essence.

This is not to say that traditional photography is easy. Not at all. All of the same design elements go into composition and execution, and of course, a bird may fly right out of a shot no matter what approach.

But then, that brings me back to my original question. Why don’t I work the traditional way? Actually, if the work demands it, I will shoot it, but more than likely, I (and others like me) prefer to document the less tangible essence of a moment., than the minute details that make up a vision.

Keep shooting!



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