Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Odd, Beautiful, And Unexpected.

I read today that famed street photography Richard Kalvar claims only 89 great photos after 40 years of work as a photographer. He has many good photos and probably a few that are great that neither he or the public has deemed as such yet. The point is easily understood and that is that it takes an enormous amount of work to get a collection of great photos. It's important to take advantage of any method that increases your odds. I find that a keen eye and a flexible, inexpensive camera can increase those odds.

One method I've used is to never just accept the big picture and I always look for the odd, beautiful, and unexpected. I was looking at a waterfall that is the centerpiece of a quaint little town called Chagrin Falls near Cleveland, Ohio. The obvious draw is the waterfall, but the people there were just as interesting. The falls seemed to draw in all sorts of people.

While looking at the waterfall, I caught a glimpse of neon green on the other side of the river and it was this pretty woman with neon green hair. In my mind, that's an odd contrast to see. I was there to photograph the natural beauty of the waterfall, but the unnatural appeared instead.

Lady with neon green hair and leather jacket.
Pretty lady with neon green hair and a leather jacket.
This was taken with a very long telephoto lens on a super-zoom camera. In a common scenario for taking photos of a waterfall, a DSLR mounted with a very wide lens would have been in use to take a photo of the fall. If this lady would have appeared, a lens change would have been required. By the time that the camera was dismounted from the tripod and a telephoto lens mounted(assuming the photographer had one), she would have been gone. I'll take the lacking quality of the super-zoom as opposed to not getting the shot at all.

Granted a better camera with a light reflector and a posed shot would have been much better. This shot isn't going to make it big like a "pro" shot would, but I find it more interesting than just a photo of a waterfall that's been photographed many thousands of times by others. Not to mention, I also have some nice shots of the waterfall.

We're taught by many professionals that it's best to concentrate on one area of photography. Life happens all of the time though and opportunities of different types pop up all of the time. It's understandable that specialized equipment is paramount when a professional's client desires a specific photo with defined expectations of high quality that the photographer needs the best equipment to fulfill the assignment, but an amateur, no way. The amateur needs his eyes, brain, and flexible equipment to find the rare opportunities that occur at unexpected moments. 

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