Monday, September 16, 2013

No Regrets

One of the topics we're exploring in my photography group this week is the letting go of regrets and moving forward. I would say that I'm too new to photography to have regrets, but I definitely have disappointments. And the disappointments are due to a lack of technical skills and experience. On the plus side, this is correctible.

young girl reading in backseat of vintage automobile
Backseat Reading
photograph by Stephanie Maatta Smith, 2013

Not Taking Time

I know that I don't enjoy taking photographs of people, especially posed photographs, but I like to try occasionally. While attending an old car festival recently, I saw a young girl dressed in period clothes and reading in the backseat of her grandparents vintage vehicle. The shot was perfect -- she was totally unaware of what was going on, engrossed in her book. I pulled up the camera, made my adjustments and snapped. The image is out of focus and didn't come close to capturing my vision. If I could have a "do over" I would shoot from a different angle, take time to focus and compose more carefully -- too much of a hurry to just take the photo and not intrude on her privacy.
front view of a vintage vehicle with grill and headlights
Full On View
copyright 2013, Stephanie Maatta Smith

The Quality of Light Is Everything

It was never more evident that the quality of light is the key to great images than the past two weekends when I was out photographing. At the old car festival I spent time working with my polarizing filter to help with reflection on the car hoods, remembering to handle my exposure carefully because of the light  and clouds, and thinking about composition, and then forgot everything I thought I knew. I had what I thought was a terrific angle and a fun image by sitting on the ground below the front end of a vehicle and shooting up at its headlights and grill. When I looked at the photo afterwards I was disappointed by how dull the photo appeared, especially the grayness above the vehicle that washed out the colors.

Torso of Summer bronze statue at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
Torso of Summer
photograph by Stephanie Maatta Smith
My mistakes with light were compounded this past weekend when photographing at a garden and sculpture park. There are beautiful cast bronze statues in one section of the park surround by the last of the season's roses. I decided that these would be lovely pieces for practicing. I adjusted the focus and exposure and moved around photographing different angles. When I reviewed the photos, the light was reflecting and bouncing off the bronze. The shadows were short and flat, and the colors were not right. This would have been an good time to try the polarizing filter again and to wait another hour or so for the sun to shift.

Lessons Learned

I see my mistakes and know to correct them the next time I'm out with my camera. I think I'll also look for another fundamentals class to take at the local community college to reinforce and expand my skills.

1 comment:

  1. Turning your disappointments into lessons learned, and then letting them go, is the right thing to do. That's exactly what we are after with this exercise. Often the only way to learn is to really experience, and both excitement and disappointment are part of the process. By using the disappointments to figure out what you need to do next, then letting go and moving on, you allow yourself to continue to progress.

    One comment on the last two images - rather than trying a polarizing filter you might just try to dial back your exposure. Both of these photos would be more vibrant if you reduce your exposure a bit. If you would like to learn more about my approach, you can find it in my Digital Photography Basics eBook here: