I mentioned in the previous post working with a different aesthetic and how liberating it has been. Really, I have been taking a whole new approach to making my images, the different aesthetic is really just a part of it. In the past, I would generally pre-visualize a scene, then go and work to create it. Or, I would scout out a location and figure out the light (and color) that I hope to get and then go, usually a number of times, until I was able to capture the image and the feel that I was after. For a landscape photographer, this is probably a general work style – find a dynamic scene and return time and time again until you’ve captured the essence of it. But that’s not what I’ve been doing the last months. Now, I am leaving the house with minimal gear, all fitting in a smaller camera bag slung around my shoulder and a tripod, and no predetermined ideas about what I may or may not shoot. I am trying to go out clean and to allow myself to be open to whatever may inspire me photographically. My success rate has been really unbelievable! How inspiring this has been! And surely there are many photographers who approach their work this way naturally and are thinking, “yeah, so what”, but for me it has been a big change. Perhaps for the first time as a photographer, I feel I am really being present and allowing the process of making images to simply unfold, and the results have showed with images coming more naturally than ever before.
Along with all this, which I feel is really just a natural procession of my work as a photographer, comes many new images and beginnings of studies. (This is another difference in my new approach – instead of just going out looking to make individual greatest hits, I am taking a subject that I am drawn to and photographing it in many ways and working with a mindset as to “study” a subject. Quite a different process as before.) Which leads me to this series of flight and boat paths at night.
I love to photograph at night for many reasons, the primary one being that I love the capture of time in a still image. Obviously, capturing extended time at night is a little easier than during the day because it is dark! As I have been heading out lately under the dark night skies, my attention has been drawn to the incoming flights that fly directly overhead the seaside park by my house, and the fishing boats in the bay with their lights on to attract their catch.
Working with these images, new ideas have formed and new studies are already on their way, having been spawned through the study of capturing the trails of light from planes and boats, neither of which I would have thought were much of a photographic subject had I thought about it. And maybe that’s the point to all this blabber – that thinking about what you are going to shoot is not always the best method. You hear coaches tell athletes,”Let the game come to you.” What exactly do they mean? The player has practiced practiced practiced and when game time comes, it’s time to stop thinking and just play – naturally, without thinking. Let the game come to you and flow naturally with it. That’s what the best players are able to do, and I suppose that is what I am talking about here. If you already take this approach to your work, good for you. If not, try it. Go out with your gear and have no thoughts or ideas about what subject you may photograph. Pick an area of interest and allow your attention to go where it may. You’ll know when to pull out the camera and let the game come to you.
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You become things, you become an atmosphere, and if you become it, which means you incorporate it within you, you can also give it back. You can put this feeling into a picture. A painter can do it. And a musician can do it and I think a photographer can do that too and that I would call the dreaming with open eyes. -ernst haas