Monday, January 16, 2012

Unexpected Surprises

I took 555 photographs for my photography homework assignment.  Some are horrible--so dark that all you see is blackness (and I wasn't trying to be metaphorical).  Some are so washed out that it almost hurts my eyes to look at them.  Many are inexplicably blurry.  But you know what?  Some of them are not bad.

Now, I don't mean "not bad" to a professional.  Or an artist.  But for a beginner, who is just figuring things out, not too shabby.  At least that's how I feel now, before I see those that my hip, young, artsy classmates produce.  I'm not confident that I can find the assigned nine best to discuss in class and twenty next best to send home with the instructor for further grading, but I'm pretty sure there is at least one that's not embarrassing.

The first thing I tried to photograph was a wine glass, bottle of wine, and a favorite book atop my copper top table.  The primary reason I started here was convenience;  I had all the items right inside my house and didn't even need to go out on a rainy day.  At first, the contrived nature of the whole thing really bugged me.  I'm more of an outdoor/candid type of girl.  However, by the time I tested my mettle by photographing the set-up by candlelight, I really rather liked it.  These truly are some of my favorite things, and one of my favorite ways to pass the time is with a book in one hand and a wine glass in the other.  If the teacher is looking for my passion about a subject, short of certain humans, I can't do much better than this.




We spent the long weekend in New Hampshire, so I was anxious to get some of the scenic outdoor photos I typically prefer.  There was a pretty little creek nearby, as well as a picturesque gazebo still decorated for Christmas.  Most of the first day photos I took are a disaster.  Nearly all are overexposed.  The snow completely stymied me.  I went back and tried both areas again today, when it was six degrees outside, so you know I'm dedicated.  I dressed in my ski gear, dropped my family off at the mountain, then headed closer to our rental to try, try again.

I improved.  I really did.  I think I'm starting to learn something.  Most important of all, I had a great time.  Considering that the temperature was in the single digits--and I despise the cold--that is quite a statement.  However, the most surprising aspect of the whole morning was my subject matter.

I went back to the creek, which was gorgeous with rushing water, icy branches, and the occasional bird.  Then I noticed the trash.  Some schmuck had left a Starbucks Frappucino bottle wedged in the stump of a tree.  At first, I started taking photos to demonstrate the nasty, disrespectful thing someone had done by littering in this beautiful place.  Then the strangest thing happened.  I started to see the beauty in that piece of garbage.  The bottle was covered in ice crystals, and in its own way was incredibly striking.  It wasn't until I walked away, after spending fifteen minutes happily close-up with a piece of someone else's garbage, that I noticed the irony of the whole thing.


Sure, I like the snow and the ice crystals.  But I like the irony of the Yuppie litter too.  Somehow, it wouldn't have been nearly so interesting if that bottle had been a Miller Lite instead of a Starbucks Frappucino.

Assigned lesson one:  exposure controls, one subject on two different days.  Learned lesson:  Amazing things can be found not only where you know them to be, but in all kinds of unexpected places.

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