Thursday, December 29, 2011


A few weeks ago I went on a photo walk with my friend Lee.  We met through Kat's classes, Find Your Eye. (which were super fab....I think she's running them again soon if you're interested)  After a few posts I started recognizing locations that Lee was posting and discovered we live just 20 min apart.  With participants from all over the country and abroad....that's quite a coincidence.

I've wanted to write this post for about 3 weeks and been too busy to sit down and think it through. Hopefully today I can carve out enough time to get my thoughts together.

Laudholm Farm
Laudholm Farm

We met early on Sunday at a nature preserve.  The property is quite vast.  Formerly a farm-the house, barns, and out buildings stand at the center of the property and serve as an education base and the remaining acreage is filled with miles of trails-wooded, marsh, fields, all the way to the ocean.

The early light was beautiful and Lee and I worked around the farm and buildings.

Barn Window
Barn Window

Two Benches
Two Benches

I enjoyed the change from shooting alone. Every once in awhile I'd look over at Lee and wonder what she'd found that I'd missed. The great thing though....there were so many things to see and shoot, it didn't matter.

Peek Through the Fence
Peek Through the Fence

Old Doorknob BW
Old Doorknob


I have grown to understand that what I shoot is light....early or late day light.  I love the way it plays on "things" and I don't care what's in the light, it matters not. Whatever has been lit is fair game and peaks my interest.  I was incredibly inspired around the farmhouse as the light was just right for my taste.


Frosty Railing
Frosty Railing

After giving the famhouse and surrounds a good workout we decided to walk a trail through the woods to the ocean.  Suddenly my inspiration sort of died.  Meanwhile Lee was stopping and finding things all over the place.  I was kicking rocks with my shoe.  I wondered what was wrong....why was she seeing and not me?  The only time I even felt like shooting at something was when a signpost, boardwalk, or something "man-made" appeared.


As we came through the woods to the marshes near the beach, my inspiration upped a bit when I saw the light playing on the tall grasses.  I'm a sucker for grasses and dunes in light over and over.  I don't NEED another shot of these, but I take 'em anyway.


Notice the height of the sun....getting past "Susan" time. 
We went on to the beach. While Lee was seeing the waves, stones, sand, shells......I was seeing rusty pegs coming out of the seawall all in a row.......

Rusty Wall
.....or making goofy hand gestures in the sun.....

Thumbs Up
Thumbs Up

.....or becoming entranced by beach steps with sand....

Beach Steps BW
Beach Steps

God's beautiful ocean, blue sky, and mile long sandy beach was right there-and I wasn't even looking at it.  And that's when I had my moment of brilliance, my "a-ha" moment.  (Maybe they'll sign me up for one of those commercials). 

In the absence of early or late day light, I need contrast.  I need something colorful in a sea of drab, something mademade in junxtuposition with nature, something textured amidst a smooth terrain, a silhouette against a pastel sky.  Bam!  Why didn't I see/feel/recognize this before?

Here's what Lee stopped to look at:

Tree Line BW
Tree Line

And here's what I was looking at:

Nail Pop
Nail Pop

Definitely not my favorite shot of the day, but it helped me define something about who I am as a photographer.  I think the more I understand that, the more it helps me be a better photographer.  Contrast.  Really important for me.  If it's not happening with light, it needs to be happening in a different way.

The beauty of all this, Lee and I are different photographers.  We see differently standing in exactly the same place.  We contrast with one another.  I would never have picked up on this without having taken a photowalk with her.  Thanks my friend.




Deborah L. Tisch said...

Susan, I loved reading this and learning of your discovery. How cool is it that you continue to "find your eye" even though the course is over!

Kathy said...

This is a fantastic post! Isn't it amazing what intrigues one person, might not the other? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder....and the camera :). LOVIN' that tree shadow against the barn capture....gorgeous.


Susan said...

What fun! It looks like you had a gorgeous day! I recently met up with an old friend for a photo shoot, and was surprised at how we both found different things to focus on.

Anonymous said...

Interesting sequence, I see the strong element of natural lighting in the photos you favor the most. You might want to explore off-camera flash to create contrasting light.

Cheryl said...

What a great "a-ha" moment! How fun to take a photo walk with a friend...especially one that you connected with through a FYE class. Your post was inspiring and it motivates me to keep working on what I love in order to better understand myself and my work.

Jess said...

First, how awesome to meet someone on line like that! Sounds like a friendship meant to be.

Second, I think those "aha" moments in any creative endeavor are critical. Even if you stop shooting until something grabs your eye, you're still evaluating everything around you. And I have to agree with you, if the light isn't right, I won't shoot either.

Carol Blackburn said...

Wonderful post, Susan. I think you've stated your position well. Shoot on!

seabluelee said...

Wow, Susan, this was a surprise! I love the photos you took that day. I think my absolute favorite is Frosty Railing. I love the perspective, the light, and the shallow depth of field that focuses attention on one small bit of fence while still showing the context of the old barn. I also love Barn Window, the old doorknob (I never saw that), Shadows, Rusty Wall, and Nail Pop.

When I compare our photos from that day, what strikes me is the contrast in yours, while mine have a lighter, more pastel quality. This has become another a-ha! moment for me, because I see it's consistent with other expressions of my personality and creativity. I envy your contrast! But we each are what we are, and that contrast is good, too.

Happy 2012, Susan! ~Lee

Brenda said...

It is so very cool that you and Lee are able to meet up and shoot together. I've never done that before - shot with someone else. It certainly seems to have "worked" for both of you - the contrasts in your interests and styles helped you recognize an important part of your photographic eye - what rocks your boat, so to speak! Anytime one can experience such an "aha" moment is a significant gift. As you said, the more you know about yourself and why you shoot what you do, the better you will be as a photographer. Love all your shadow shots (of course). Thanks for sharing your "BAM" moment.