This is the second of (what I plan to be) a series of images based on the old saying of “a picture is worth a thousand words“. Generally, the saying means that a photo can say a lot – but in this series, I will write about a single image and what it says to me. I’m usually quite concise in my writing, so it will be interesting to see if I can manage 1000 words!
Looking at the photo above, you can see that the “Reflections” in this post’s title are fairly obvious. But I’m going to go a step further, and reflect on what I feel about being a photographer. I’ve been a “photographer” (meaning I’ve invested in serious equipment) for almost 45 years. Like any hobby, it has its peaks and valleys.
These days my schedule is pretty much full and I don’t have time for the ‘creative’ aspects of photography that I would like to have. My brain doesn’t usually allow me to work on several projects like I am now, and also devote some thoughts to artistic endeavors – I need to focus on these things! So lately my photographs have featured either artwork or sports, both things I enjoy shooting, yet also provide challenges.
All of this leads up to last Saturday morning when I was out on the road early to shoot photos for the annual “Oregon Trail Run” marathon. It takes place over 26.2 miles of dirt roads across farm county in rural Nebraska. A lot of the scenery is what you might expect: flat corn fields (mostly harvested by this point), but the run also follows along some very scenic areas in our county.
So I was up early to catch the runners start the marathon at 8:00am. I saw the sun rise for the first time in recent memory. It was a great day – cloudless and cool, but not cold. I shot the start of the marathon and then drove off to the next spot, which is the half way point.
I found the drive along the dirt road relaxing, and after a busy few months I felt a burden had been lifted for a couple of hours. My mind was starting to focus on photography again, but it was still early in the day.
I drove out to Highway 15 and turned south. As a passed a small pond, I thought, “Wow – what a nice, peaceful scene.” And I kept driving. Then I thought to myself, “Dammit Art – you call yourself a photographer, maybe you should turn around”. So I did. I drove back to the spot and took it in.
Beautiful still water, and old tree, the browning fields of fall, but most of all the still water is what caught my attention. The wind in Nebraska is always blowing, so water in ponds and lakes is usually rippled. Maybe this is a “morning” thing that I don’t get out to see? (Someone can fill me in later).
Honestly, I should have spent a little more time there and shot a few more images and spent a little more time working on composition. After I drove on and parked (and waited) I reflected on why I rushed through the shot.
The longer I’ve been shooting photos, the more I critique my work and try to find new ways to show the world around us. I use to go out and drive the dirt roads once or twice a week and look for deer and sunsets, but the deer disappeared and I stopped. I haven’t shot a sunset for a long time. I have large catalog of sunset images, so I ask myself if I need any more? Does the world need another mediocre photo of a deer? Of course the whole point of going out to shoot photos is “you just never know what you will find”.
I realize that I won’t get any great photos (or even mediocre ones) if I don’t have my camera ready to go. But there comes a time when a lack of inspiration becomes a rut. I’ve been shooting some high school sports lately, and that has been a fun challenge. I try to capture two things in these images: the action and the emotion. I think you need both to create a good sports photograph.
So yes, when I drive past a scenic location, I’m continually thinking about my journey as a photographer.
But back to the photo that started this post. One thing I really like about it is that there are some objects in the reflection which are more noticeable than than in the ‘real’ scene. For example, the long branch reaching to the right is somewhat hidden in the the top section as it blends in with the background, but in the reflection it stands out. One other interesting thing about that branch is that its shadow is seen more than the branch itself, and it points to the short evergreens on the right (which are also much clearer in the reflection).
As far as general composition goes, there’s a few things I don’t like. The top of the frame is a bit of a mess. I wish I had included more sky, so I would have more options to crop. I left some sky showing as I didn’t like the scene with the sky completely gone. The foreground is the same, as I was a little limited by the road (cropped out), and the barb wire fence which is partially in the frame. There are also the two short trees in the foreground which I should have looked harder at avoiding, as they break up the scene a little.
So here it is – “Reflections“. I like the idea that a reflection can show more than the original. We look at our reflections almost every morning and see more than others see of us when they see the real thing. In this case, I see photo that reflects on my current state of photography – the image shows more than I invested in it. I know that the next time I stumble across a scene like this, I’ll reflect on this image and put a little more work into it.
Thanks for reading – if you liked it, feel free to leave a comment below. – Art