Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writing Descriptions

Describing What I See

I often find myself struggling to describe what I see. I envy those writers who are able to put wonderful written descriptions in their work.

This… lack of mine… really struck me while I was on my journey south this winter. I did not have the words to describe much of what I was seeing and on highways, everything went by so fast. Then when I did stop, there was so much to see that I didn’t take the time in the moment and hurried along to see as much as I could.

This morning it hit me. Some of my problem is because I don’t STOP. It seems that even when I’m not in a hurry, I hurry. I jump from one ah moment to the next, take a few quick photographs and move on to something else.

In thinking this further, I reflected on the outing to Windsor the other day. What did I first experience? When we got out of the truck, the heat of the day struck us. Gayle was immediately drawn to the waterfall and my eyes were drawn upwards to the tall, unusual electrical towers. Both our attentions were caught on the back of the building where we could see the outlines of old windows and doors. Gayle liked the one big door near ground level that was still operable while I looked at the one three stories up wondering where that once led.

So, I can write a description like that whereas others might go fully into what those doors and windows really looked like. How could the back of that building be described so the readers could fully understand what was seen? Me, I’m ready to move to the inside of the building. Again, though, I tend to be like the butterfly flitting from flower to flower. Even if I did want to describe the machinery, I don’t always have the proper words. I can tell a gear from a wheel and I’m fascinated how these lathes and gear making machines were made… but I can’t really describe it.

Maybe I need to fully stop and examine one thing. What would I find? In that case, I would have needed to have one of the museum people give me proper terms for what I was looking at. I couldn’t be saying things like, “…that big black thing fitted into another big black thing which turned that little silver piece…”

Taking the time is the lesson. As a photographer, I should already know this. Many times I hear other photographers talking about how much time it takes them to get good photos. In this aspect, I’m like a little kid who can’t sit still. I’m one of these people who snaps, snaps, snaps because I want to see everything. I take the chance that I get a few good photos while others take the time to make sure they’ve gotten great pictures.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Photography as Art

The internet, having a website, and access to Facebook, etc., has made it easy for artists to share and sell their work. For a professional photographer, the images posted are works of art. Our photographs are not just quick snapshots of friends, families, and vacations. We just don’t shoot a picture and post it. We are happy when someone loves our work and shares the photos; so helpful in getting our “names out there” and we appreciate that.

However, there are times when people will just take an image of an artist’s work to use for their own purposes without giving the photographer the credit. I don’t know if these people think that a photograph posted to Facebook means it’s free for the taking, so I thought I would share a few thoughts on the subject.

A lot of time is spent in the art of photography. Photographers develop their own styles and methods and nothing is “quick” about it. Some may spend all day in a shoot just getting one or two perfect shots. (And I do mean ALL DAY!) Others may work quicker in the field, but they all carefully study lighting, angles, and composition. A lot of thought goes into capturing that perfect picture and this takes time.

Back in the studio, it’s not just a quick import to the computer and posting to Facebook or websites. There are many options and different programs for photographers. Just because, for the majority, work is now done on the computer and not in a darkroom, doesn’t mean it’s fast and easy.

Time is spent in editing. Sometimes the camera and the computer don’t correctly capture the correct “real” color. If you are printing your own photos, the type of printer, ink, and paper determine how the picture needs to be adjusted. For instance, if I am printing cards or using matte paper in my Canon printer, I have to add more saturation to the image, but if I am printing on the HP printer using gloss or luster paper, I need a different balance of the color curve.

Sometimes there are flaws that need to be removed. The photo might need to be cropped to give a closer view. There are a myriad of things that need to be done to create a great photograph. Next thing you know, an hour or so has gone by and you’re still working on one or two photos.

The bottom line is that photography is not just a quick snap of the shutter and you’re done. A lot of time goes into creating a stunning photograph. For photographers, their work is ART and like other artists, photographers also put a piece of themselves into their work, so when we see that someone has “taken” one of our images and used it to their own purposes without permission or purchase, it’s heart breaking.
(Remember, this does not mean “sharing” our photos as long as the photographer is still getting credit.)

There have been a couple of instances where someone has downloaded someone else’s image onto their computers and done their own editing totally changing what the photographer intended. Maybe these people think they are enhancing the image, but it’s heartbreaking for the photographer to see it. Some photographers have even found their photos on other people’s websites after cropping out the photographer’s copyright.

There is no way to stop this from ever happening, but I wanted to mention it so that people are more aware. Just because an image is posted, doesn’t mean it’s free for the taking.

I love sharing my work and love showing others images that excite me and sights that bring me much joy. As an artist trying to make a living, I hope that people will like an image enough to offer to purchase a photo or cards. I am also very pleased when someone likes my photos and will post and share with others. I thank you.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Update

After months of working on my book, I am getting down to the nitpicky final editing. There are still many questions to answer and details to narrow down. I wish I knew a “real” publisher/editor with whom to talk about this.

Thirty three days is a long time to put into one book. My goal of personal story, history segments of sites and cities, and the many photographs make for a lot of pages. I really want to share with you as much as I can, but is it realistic in a book? I love to see the photos while I’m reading about places and I like to see it AS I’m reading and not having to refer to other pages later in the book.

How much time am I wasting doing things that are not normally acceptable or affordable in a book?

I think about doing a companion photo book to go with the travel writing book, but I’m not sure that’s even feasible. I’ve currently filled two 2 inch binders, one with photos and one with the manuscript.

Yesterday, I cut out almost the entire beginning section that had to do with planning the trip. I currently have 183 photos in the manuscript. Guess I’d better start cutting some out. But how do I decide which to leave out when I want you to see everything?