Saturday, April 25, 2009

Contemplative Photography

Contemplative photography - looking at a scene, meditating on it and seeing what it is about the scene that makes it stand out, what is it that I really want to photograph.

I like to go out sometimes with a simple point and shoot camera and just walk around and just look at things; it could be people, buildings or the land/city-scape. Just looking, seeing what catches my eye and then trying to decide what would make a good photo out of what I see. It's like practice photography. It doesn't necessarily mean I'm creating great shots just creating images of the scene before me and figuring out what it is about it that caught my eye.

Why a P&S camera? So that I don't have to worry about camera settings or lens adjustment. I like to shoot, for the most part, at the 35mm setting and only occasionally zoom in to get closer when I can't do so with my feet. And I have one with a view finder, even if it isn't full frame, I just like holding the camera to my face. I don't have VR and it does steady the camera to do so, instead of holding it out and looking at the little screen on the back.

The three photos below are examples of contemplative photography. In the first one I actually waited, in the drizzle. until a vehicle came up in the left lane and hit its brakes. I had liked what I was seeing but something was missing and when the car came by I put the camera to my eye and waited for it to stop and then I fired. Originally I like the soft light, the fog on the mountain and the lights being seen. The car with the red brake lights completed the scene for me.

In the second photo, everything in the scene, except for the bike, was duplicated and that didn't take long to figure out that that is what made the scene for me. Even the reflections of the lights across the street were doubled. I like the way the hats were hung and the fact that the bike itself was red with white sidewalls and that made it stand out all the more. The hard part was getting the angle just right so that you couldn't see other items reflected in the window. This was just a fun scene to photograph.

In the third photo everything was red, had right angles and you were directed to go in one direction. Only the sign saying "Parking" was faded so that you could almost not make it out, but you still knew what it said. For me the rounded top of the white window add some softness to the hard scene and the fabric awning gave an impression of a sheltering safety to the parking that was available down the lane. And the birds on the arm and on the end of the finger gave a comic relief to another wise hard scene.

For this scene I was actually sitting in my car waiting for my wife to come out of a business and I stared at this scene for about ten minutes before finally seeing what it was I wanted to photograph, and what you see is the final image. Yeah, I did have to zoom in some to get this. If I had gotten out of the car and walked closer I would not have captured the same scene at the same angle I was seeing through the front windshield of the car.

So these are examples of what I call Contemplative Photography or the art of scene meditation before creating the final image. In other words, making it all come together. Now I know this may not work for you, but for me it is good practice in seeing, and you know my motto " If you are not looking you will never see."

Now all of these photos were taken with a Point & Shoot camera - 5 megapixal. And they were all shot on Centre Street in Cumberland on different days.

Try it sometimes. Just go out with a simple camera, if you have one, and just look at things that you normally see on a day by day basis, but look at them in a different way. Look at them as if you have to photograph them and in the process bring out what it is about what you are looking at that makes it stand out. You just might surprise youself.

Yeah, this is my contemplative world, easy going, looking through different eyes and seeing what you never saw before, and you are welcome to it.

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