Sunday, September 4, 2011


Another installation of thoughts with Kat on where/what/how/and why my eye is doing what it's doing.  Thanks Kat, you're giving my eye a brain of its own.  Want to find your eye?  Start your own journey?....Click on the button and visit Kat's site.

This latest challenge was about light.  That's the good news.  The tricky part was doing a photo shoot in the kind of light you normally don't use.  Oh crap.  Now I'm going to have to work hard.

I love light. Light is normally my biggest inspiration. I catch myself out driving near the end of the day thinking "the light is perfect RIGHT now! I need to photograph something, anything, right NOW!" It really doesn't matter what it is; most any object in beautiful golden light looks desirable to shoot and the window of time is quite short before the light runs out.

Marsh Grasses
Marsh Grasses

I went off at 11:30 a.m. to shoot in harsh midday light feeling like a vampire out of element.  I almost never shoot in the middle of the day so this exercise was difficult for me.  I tied it in with a dog walk for my sweet Tula, making it doubly difficult because I'm rarely "inspired" on this particular walk.  It is a long and narrow path through woods and near tidal marshes.  It is pretty, but I've photographed it a billion times and am just bored with it.  Funny, Tula never seems to be bored with this locale nor hampered by time of day.

Stop and Stare
Stop and Stare

While I was walking I tried taking images in the bright sun.  My heart wasn't in it.  Ugly flowers, playing with DOF, shadows from plant leaves against my jeans, yelling at Tula to stop rolling in something, curvy stream through the marsh grasses....blah, blah, blah and blah.  It felt very forced. 

Green Leaves
Green Leaves

I noticed that I was more comfortable in the shadier areas where arching trees provide a canopy from the sun...a more dappled effect, but still it felt forced. I looked down and had just 43 images, and thought, "I'll never get to 100 images here".

Under Trees
Under Trees

I couldn't tell if I'd selected a poor venue or it was the midday light that was killing my desire.  I love shooting photos, but having my heart in the process is a big part of the process; absent photography's appeal runs dry.


This path isn't a's one you walk up and turn around and walk back.  My luck started to change a bit on the return.  I was happy for this young man headed toward the beach.....a little distraction from the frustration.  I could see that bright sun up ahead.

Big Sky
Big Sky

But the sky had changed while I was in the woods.  Suddenly the clouds were really appealing.  I played with them a lot.  I used proportion making the sky the prominent feature in my images.  It looks like the walking path might flow up into that path at the bottom of the clouds.

Across the Sky
Across the Sky

I also experimented with goofy angles....why not?


And just before Tula and I reached the end of the trail, I was able to capture this butterfly.  I've been trying to "catch" one for about a month now.  You just never know.  I also had 89 photos on my memory card-not bad for an uninspired walk.  Not only that, my dog was exercised.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on working with light.  But will confess, I'm ready to do a late day shoot.


Gilly said...

I can sympathise - nothing more difficult than trying to shoot when you feel uninspired. You've done really well, though - there are some nice shots here, although I can see that they don't have quite the feeling or depth to them that your 'normal' shots do. Do you feel you learned/gained anything from doing this? When I try this sort of thing myself, it only confirms to me that I much prefer other kinds of light!

For me, the worst shooting conditions are dull days with a pale grey sky and flat light. Can't stand it! Unfortunate really, since we get a lot of that in the UK. Sunshine is what does it for me - it does create difficulties with shadows and so on, but the boost it gives me psychologically makes up for it all, and I love that dappled light you get when a bright sun shines through trees.

Leanne said...

It's an interesting task though, isn't it? I really like your shot of the bike rider heading towards the light and the butterfly is a beautiful capture.

Dyche Designs said...

I think lighting has to be one of the most difficult elements. I recently went out in an evening to play around in golden hour but I'm not used to shooting at that time of day and also found myself getting frustrated when I wasn't capturing images that I liked. It's good to step outside our own comfort zones though and try something new every once in a while.

Woody said...

I've been taking the whole mid-day, harsh lighting thing as a challenge. Try getting a 4X Neutral Density filter to knock down the light. A CP filter will help remove the harsh reflections. When given lemons, make lemonade!

Brenda said...

I could certainly empathize with your frustrations over this exercise. We are opposite sides of the same coin! Isn't it interesting how the same light and time of day can be the food of inspiration for one and pull-out-my-hair frustration for another? All part of what makes each of us unique.

I admire your honesty and your commitment to giving this exercise all you had even through your frustration.

seabluelee said...

Susan, I don't know if it was your intention to be funny, but I laughed my way through most of this post. I could so relate to your feelings with this lesson! I really like the boy on the bike. And the butterfly...doesn't it feel great when you finally get that elusive target? I don't know how many hours I've spent chasing butterflies around trying to capture them in camera.

Ms. Becky said...

I learn so much by reading your thoughts about your photography. I usually go out in the harsh mid-day sun, and I'm thinking maybe THAT'S why I never like any of my own photos. or not. yours have a totally different look here, in this mid-day light. I could feel your frustration but I'm glad that you kept on. I really like Marsh Grasses, but my fave is of Tula's cute little butt. happy day to you Susan.

Kat Sloma said...

For being uninspired, you really did capture some lovely images. Thanks for sticking with it! Sometimes you just have to play around with something new, and then you can take it or leave it for the future. It's up to you. :) I love the images under the trees, but that is a favorite type of light of mine.

gina said...

I really enjoyed reading your post -- it gave me some chuckles too. I admire your persistence! I like how you tried the different angles -- makes for very interesting shots. Of course, the butterfly is amazing! Well done!

Deborah L. Tisch said...

Thanks for your honest and funny description of your experience. I love that persistence paid off and you were able to capture such a lovely image of that butterfly!

Kay L. Davies said...

I agree with Becky. I love Tula's enthusiasm, it shows in every angle and curve of her body.
I have serious sun issues (I break out in spots and lumps, which are sometimes, but not always, itchy) so being out at mid-day is seldom fun.
I really admire you for sticking to the challenge until you came up with some photos you like. The cyclist riding toward the light is perfect, right to his yellow backpack. And then that sky — perfect with the path, and with the water.
You are an artist, Susan. Thank you for sharing your frustration and your eventual triumph over it, with us.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Rosie said...

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I'm so behind with all the exercises it's a shame! I absolutely admire how you go about it!

lisa said...

I really enjoyed reading this Susan. I am with you in that the midday light is tough. It's a very hard light, and I find it to be very unattractive. My favorite times to shoot are very early morning or late in the day. I absolutely love overcast days too. Now that I think of it, at these times, I purposely underexpose by a stop or two. I love your butterfly. A beautiful shot, and Tula exercised, sounds like a good walk to me!

urban muser said...

great shots! love the one of tula (of course :)

Cedar said...

Very nice captures for a boring walk! I love the butterfly!

Too much of my life happens during mid-day light, but I do find it challenging to get the proper exposure so you can see my kids faces and everything else isn't over exposed--much harder than just starting with proper light.

Linda R. said...

I really enjoyed reading you post.. I think your photos are amazing.


Thank you for sharing the whole journey of this walk - it inspires me to get past the blocks I'm having with some assignments right now and to just TRY, and see if providence smiles on me too with a proverbial butterfly.

Cathy H. said...

What a beautiful outcome to a frustrating photo walk!! Your images are so lovely! Loved your cloud shots and the bike rider, and the butterfly. Well, I really liked all of them! You did a great job!!

JM said...

The waves on the marsh grasses are wonderful! What shapes them like that? Wind, water?

Anita Johnson said...

I'm with you, I feel very uninspired at midday...the light is so harsh. I have also found myself very distracetd when the "sweet light" in the afternoon and evening is present. Sometimes I'm just dying to get out there with my camera before the light is gone, but not everything runs on my light schedule. Oh, well! The butterfly is beautiful and I too look at the dog walking opportunity as a good one too!

justine said...

sometimes I do hate it when we are forced to take shots for a course and nothing seems right. The best times for shots are the golden hour and first thing in the morning and nothing seems right outside those times and sometimes it's just best to put the camera away and enjoy the scenery with your lovely dog! one thing I am really missing since moving from the country is the light! thank you for all your lovely comments, your martha ones do make me laugh!

Wanda said...

A friend of mine always says "nothing is ever wasted," and it seems your photowalk was a case in point. You learned something about what you don't like (and I'll bet you are thinking about what you might do in the future if you find yourself in a similar situation). My favorites are Green Leaves and Under the Trees and, of course, your butterfly photo is a real winner.