Not about everything

August 12, 2007

The birth (and death) of a photographic style

Filed under: nature,photography — takaita @ 19:31
Tags: , , , ,

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)The Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) is a dragonfly that is hard to miss when present. It is big, brown and flies around all the time.That, at the same time, is the trouble when you want to take a photo of it. To be honest I should say that it does sometimes rest and that at such moments it is possible to shoot it. There are plenty such photos and I even did one or two myself. Anyway, I have been trying to shoot it in flight. Shooting dragonflies in flight is something that I find very hard. I have seen photos of others which seem just perfect, and they are sometimes presented as if it had cost no effort to do. I am not one of those.

This is how I do it. First find a place where the dragonfly regularly flies along. They patrol their territory, so it is not hard to find such a place. Then set my camera to manual focus, and focus it to a distance at which the dragonfly approximately passes by. Then wait until it flies along. There is no time to refocus, because it moves too quickly and changes course very often. It is a matter of pointing the camera in the right direction and click, hoping that the dragonfly is in the frame and that the focus distance was right. Of course that usually goes wrong. But once in so many times it goes more or less right. I am sure that others have found better techniques (judging from their photos). Please let me know.

One of the photos that completely missed the dragonfly was actually quite nice. It showed some totally out-of-focus vegetation that was growing on the other side of the water. I put it through some processing with photomatix (which is mostly used to create dreadful-looking HDR photos, but it can be used to proces single RAW photo files too) and created some extra grain by sharpening it.

Vegetation Impression

I liked it. And at the same time I thought I could try to make such photos on purpose. All I had to do was to find a nice piece a vegetation, with some structure and some colors, set my camera to manual focus and make sure that the vegetation is quite out of focus.

Yes, I know. Maybe others have done this before. I haven’t seen it, but that means nothing. It is ok if you tell me who did this before. But this was my accident, not somebody else’s.

Anyway. I went for it. While hunting for dragonflies with my camera (which I do all the time these days), I sometimes took the time to look around for some vegetation that I could shoot out-of-focus. Coming home I’d process them as described and post them to my flickr account. Nothing special happened, a few views, a scarce comment.

In just a few days I created a dozen of such photos, and already now I am bored of it. Not because it is not nice, or that I don’t like it. But because it is too easy. Almost anywhere I stand in low vegetation I can see something that would produce a result like this. Or maybe I just lack the education (in arts) to define an idiom for this, some way to make it harder.

Maybe one day I’ll come back to this, or find a way to use it a bit differently. But for now you can look at the dozen Vegetation Impressions. And I’ll go back to pure dragonfly hunting.

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