Scenes along the trail
For every luminary photographic genius there are thousands who are happy to capture what they find interesting or simply what is in front of them. It’s a long road from pedestrian, to photo tramp and on to some pinnacle that brings more than a passing gaze at what the lens has captured. On recent reflections it was brought to my attention that we often exist in our own “daze” in rapt attention of only what is going on between our ears. The secret to progress to awaken to a state of awareness that there is more going on than the noise of our own psyche. That covers a wide swath but I will take a stab at keeping it centered on photography.
The first rung on the photographic ladder is to see better and feel what is going on around you. You can take courses on seeing but what I am talking about is to have a sense that you can not only see something interesting but know how to capture it. What I have discovered is that you can often sense things, make a picture and later on discover why you took it as you look at the print.
Your eye takes out all the distracting elements in your view and the camera puts them all back in. This is one of my pillars of photography. Knowing how to put only what you want in the frame is a skill. Two keys to this is to look at what is in the foreground, background and around the edges of your frame and to eliminate distracting elements, meaning you will have to change your vantage point.
Yeah that’s great but what is the Magnificent Seven? Thought You’d never ask.
In order to get better at photography you need to make prints. If you only look at your work on the screen you are missing one of the key elements of photography. There is something about a tangible work that communicates and becomes part of the message. Prints will also reveal something about the “image quality”, pixels or sharpness…
The Magnificent Seven is an exercise. For me the nearest lab is a three hour drive and if I want machine prints it’s at least an hour drive not to mention fuel costs, coffee etc. I could print them on the computer but that’s never been very satisfying so I pull out seven images and make an imaginary “book”. I go through the steps, theme, quality, sequence and ask what does it say. Each image has a story, and a particular set of circumstances. I ask myself; was it random, time of day, was there a plan. Anything that can help me improve that sense of when a photo is at hand.
I learned all these things from other people and made them my own, coming up with my own slogans and quotes. It’s good to learn from many sources Which helps to sort out the truths and biases that exist. Take seven or five or ten… make prints, make a book. Make it work with whatever you have.