Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I'm always amazed when I read my photography books (not how-to books, which I have several, but collections by noted photographers, of which I have dozens) when they describe the endless time they took to get certain shots. The results certainly speak of their determination, because the results are absolutely wonderful.

But I wonder if I could do that. In a book of photos of Cape Cod by Jon Vaughn, he describes going back to the same spot, day after day, for months ... until was there at the exact right time with the perfect lighting. The picture he took was wonderful. I doubt I could ever get a picture that beautiful!

Maybe it's patience ... maybe my standards aren't as high, or my sense of perfection not that honed.

This picture I took eons ago (2001, I think ... maybe even 2000) with a very early model digital camera (Sony Cybershot, I believe ... it kept the images on a 3.5 inch floppy disc, which shows you how old it was), and it was mostly an accidental image. I was touring the LTV Steel plant in Cleveland, and allowed to bring a camera (I actually brought two, the Cybershot, and my ancient Mamiya/Sekor 35mm loaded with slide film). So I took advantage and was taking all sorts of shots. We were listening to the tour guide, and while he was talking, I was looking around. For some reason, not even thinking, I grabbed the Cybershot and took this photo. There was no lengthy set up, I didn't have a tripod, I didn't wait for the scene to unfold, I just quickly saw something, and unthinking, just grabbed a quick snapshot.

And yet it's one of my favorite pictures. I love the lighting and color (color is rare in a steel mill, where everything is black, or rusty), and it's just one of those "perfect moment" photos. I don't know if I could have gotten this if I had tried to set something up and waited for the moment.

I don't know if I even have the patience to do that. It'll probably limit me immensely in being a good photographer. But we'll see. I'm going to try to overcome it, and try to work to be pretty decent.

Funny thing is, I think I did better shots with the digital camera ... my old Mamiya just couldn't handle the mill. It only went up to 1/500th of a second on shutter speed, which just is NOT fast enough when you're taking photos anywhere near hot metal, which can be as bright as the sun! A number of times, I just couldn't get a shot with the 35mm camera, because I could not close my aperature enough or crank up the shutter speed high enough. Other spots in the mill, away from the glowing hot metal, there wasn't enough light to take my shots without a tripod!

But somehow, the old and limited digital camera actually managed quite well in that environment. Go figure.

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