Saturday, December 20, 2014
Waiting for Patty -- The Process
For my long-time readers, this will be something new. But I have a different idea and a lot of pictures for which I have no other use. There's a lot of thinking that goes into some kinds of picture taking. As a matter of fact, it's more picture making. So, if you're not interested in the process behind making a picture, it's time to change the channel.
To be honest, I started taking pictures of The Chair because I was bored. I'd taken a picture of a really nice sunrise to post to my photography friends on Facebook -- with my phone -- and it included my camera sitting on my tripod. I noticed that the tripod/camera silhouette made the picture a lot more interesting. That got me thinking (hat tip to Galen Rowell and his "mature subject" explanation) about what object I could use in my photographs to add interest. I thought an artist's easel would be a good idea. Perhaps it might be a little too literal -- sort of like screaming "See! It's art! Photography can be art!". But I'm a literal kind of guy and I didn't have a problem with that. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I couldn't find a used easel. But I did find a used chair. Cheap. I named the first picture "I Grew Weary of the Wait". Coincidently, I had listened to a podcast about how much of our lives are spent waiting (like waiting for a pretty sunrise) and then it became kind of a thing. All "The Chair" pictures had to have a "waiting" title.
Are you following along? Do you see how one thing just leads to another? I'd already been floating things in the lake so it wasn't a real leap of inspiration to float the chair. I decided to build a prettier raft but that was about it.
And then I started noticing how people reacted to the various images. Most of the images were just rehashing the same pictures I'd taken before "The Chair". But then I got a crazy idea and posted this one:
That one got a lot of reaction. And it surprised me. Think about it. There's nothing there. No horizon. No color (I love color). It's a chair, lost in the fog. And that's when it hit me. It's not just about what I put in a picture, it's what the viewer puts into it.
They probably teach this in Art 101 but I've never delved into the art world before. I just like photographing pretty things, not making art. And all this led me to thinking about how I react to other's art. And that led me to Patty. Nobody's art on Flickr makes me "feel" like Patty's. The odd thing is, I don't know what it makes me feel. Again, it's probably just that lack of art school thing but there it is. And now it intrigues me. So, of course, I started to dissect it. I'm not sure that's the smart thing to do but I've been not smart before.
To make this long story shorter, let me use some pictures.
The first thing that ought to hit you about that picture is that it's square. As are most of Patty's. I'd been looking at her work for over a year and I had been so wrapped up in the "feel" of it that I'd never even noticed that all her pictures are square(ish). It's amazing what you learn when you try to duplicate something.
I also noticed she used a lot of leading lines so I tried that.
Close but no cigar. I love the dark and moody skies in much of her work, so I tried that.
I liked it (even if I did use fill flash) but it still didn't capture the "magic". So, this morning, when the swans flew through the frame, I decided enough was enough.
If I can't capture the magic with a square format, moody skies, a red wig and flying swans, Patty has something that I don't have and I'll just have to learn to live with it. No, I can't explain why I didn't go with the flying swans. You just have to trust your instincts and hope for some magic.
December 20, 2014