Small Subjects – Photographic Summary of October

So another Autumn has befallen us and the animals are hard at work, and play, to prepare for the long hard winter. I have barely gotten out this past few weeks, but when I have it has been amazing. I can’t get over how many opportunities arose from just sitting still in one spot.

I spent a week in Alberta and managed to capture this cheeky little squirrel, who had the audacity to put on a little runway show while I was shooting.

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Had to stop by one of the many lakes and mountains on the way home, just because of the sheer beauty of the area.

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While Alberta was nice, I was happy to be back in British Columbia. I went out twice in the last week and was met by all sorts of small creatures. I didn’t even have to go more than 10 minutes drive to find all of the following shots. In fact, most of these images were taken within a few hundred metres of each other on two separate days.

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I particularly enjoyed the following image, if you look closely in the background, a squirrel is sneaking up on the bird and its stash of seeds.
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As previously mentioned in another post, Autumn is my favourite time of the year and presents many opportunities for all photographers. You just have to get out there and do it.

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All of these images, and more, can be found on my facebook page.Be sure to stop by and check it out. You can also follow the link on the right of this post. Your comments and feedback are always welcome.

Thank You!

Troy

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Movember Self Portrait

Well as much as I hate taking pictures of myself, I had to give it a shot. Growing a moustache for Movember is one of my households most frowned upon acts that I have ever embarked upon. This is my second year and instead of following the rules and starting fresh in November, I have been growing my lip ribbon for a few weeks. Except in the form of a goatee to appease the wife and prevent her from being creeped out. She thinks it makes me look like some sexual deviant. Well she broke down tonight and let me trim my gnarly goat into a fine specimen of a Mo’.

I love Movember and what it stands for. Getting people to talk about prostate cancer, especially men. So with my current Mo reaching sustainable dimensions, I thought I just had to take pictures. They will keep me comforted long after the wife forces the manhood off my face. So with that, the following 4 images were born.

I like to think of this as my attempt to put myself near Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 news team. Stay classy Prince George! This was lit with two clamping work lights, 13W compact fluorescents (2700k), that were generally diffused with a thin white shower curtain. The third light source was a bit higher wattage but still shone through some shower curtain. Post processing included adding some grain and the somewhat throwback colour stylings.

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The following picture is a somewhat serious shot, probably for my wife or something. It was somewhat subconscious. Same light sources, and a bit too much softening in post production. Probably to take the edge of the freshly hacked face thanks to a disposable razor.
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This made me think of the Uni-bomber. So I cooled the temperature down a bit in post production to give it a cooler / cold feel.
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For some reason I was feeling ‘pointy’. For those ‘F You’ moments.
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So thats my short post for today. Please stop by my facebook photography page or ‘like’ it on the right of this post. Might as well follow this blog too, since every once in a while I have some wit and insight that you could find anywhere else but here is a good a place as any.

Have a good one, and stay classy interweb!

Troy Alan White

My First Lightsource

My weakness is lighting. I knew it, know it, and now embrace it. Almost like a fear of fire or deep water, it is one of those fears a photographer must challenge head on. Jump into the fire so to speak. I recently enrolled into the online professional photography program with The Photography Institute and I realized I was going to have to face the music sooner or later. I chose sooner.

My first subject, much like some crazy scientist, was some dogs. Don’t worry, no animals were harmed in the making of this. A friend asked me to photograph some of her beloved Chow Chows and I was more than happy to use this opportunity to my advantage and get right into it. I went out and purchased a few cheap clamping work lights from a hardware store. Picked up a few compact fluorescents to mimic natural light and presto. Studio lighting.

Capturing my own animals is a bit of a challenge, let alone someone elses while you have a miniature studio set up. Here are a few examples of the dog portraits. Feel free to comment any images posted here.

dog,puppy,furry,fluffy

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After a week or so I attempted to take a few snapshots of one of my daughters. Luckily she loves the camera and is photogenic. I learned a thing or two in this session. I wanted to try this technique for a long time and this is what I managed.

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Another week passed and I wanted to try it again. This time using both my daughters as my ‘lab rats’. To me these were much better than the first two sessions…or attempts as it were.

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The Girls

Finally I started to understand fractionally a little bit more than I did when I first ventured onto the path of enlightenment, pun totally intended. So I started to brainstorm softboxes and lightboxes to reduce the harshness of my light sources. My first assignment for the photography class needed to be submitted and I wanted to use my new-found lighting. My initial concept for the photo was going to be food, a colourful salad to be exact, and I knew that lighting was the key to photographing food. I managed to rig one of my decorative lamps to a lampshade lined with tinfoil and diffused the light by attaching a portion of white shower curtain to the lampshade. Voila a soft diffused light source.

This was the result of using my two clamping worklights, one on the right bouncing off the ceiling and one on the left being blasted at the image (shielded by more of the shower curtain), and my new softbox creation lighting the image from above.

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Needless to say I still have a long long way to go before grasping lighting. But the most important thing is that I recognize the need to master it. I will be doing a bit more simpleton construction and diffusing the rest of my light sources for future images. I just ordered two lightstands to help in that task.

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Snap Happy – Autumn Photography

Everyone likes a certain style or certain subject. I haven’t reached that point exactly but I know I shoot some of my best photographs in the fall. Autumn is in reality a very destructive and rapid change in the environment. There is always something going on and if you blink you will miss it. Animals are busy preparing for the long winter, the trees and shrubs are rapidly changing colours, plants are dying back, and the sky fills with such wonderful light to paint all those happenings.

Last year was my first year with a DSLR, my now trusty Canon T1i, and I was out almost daily looking for new things to take pictures of. I managed to capture some of my all time best images then.

This Mountain Ash is actually sitting next to a highway but I love the angle of the hillside next to it, and the brilliant colours of they sky, tree, and grass together. This is barely even touched up because I had no idea how to do it. This was about the time when I learned about composition for the first time.
 Mountain Ash

This image of a Highbush Cranberry was taken the same day or same week. I shot this with my new Canon 70-200mm f/4 Non-IS and absolutely loved the warm, rich colours it gave the image. It was an amazing shot for me at the time, looking back after only a year I can see room for lots of improvement.
Highbush Cranberry

I like to think I have actually improved over the course of the year. I have been going out for a few days in early September and have gotten a few images that I quite enjoy.

I snapped this cute little guy on a hike. He was snacking on a tree cone of some variety and didn’t mind me sitting there taking his picture.
Red Squirrel

A few days later in a different park across town I spotted some amazingly coloured cranberry’s. I’m not sure why I am so attracted to cranberry’s but it probably has to do with the fact that they are so vibrant and plentiful in these areas. Needless to say I had to put my Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens on and capture them.

Finally autumn is always a great chance to take out your beloved dog for those long afternoon walks. I captured this image of our Rottweiler puppy, who is five months old, during one of those walks. A warm evening sun paints the surrounding scenery with a soft light thats ideal for photographs. The great gold light and the forest floor compliments his gorgeous markings.
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So no matter what your favourite subject, no matter how little time you have, you can always find something to shoot in the fall season. Change is action and action always makes for great subjects. Remember to stay safe if your going out into the wilderness. Bears and other predators are trying to fatten up, and you don’t want to be ‘that person’ who fills them up.

Happy Snapping,

Troy Alan White

May The Photo Gods Have Mercy On My Soul – My Wedding Shoot

So, I go pretty much everywhere with my camera. Thats what your supposed to do. So I hear. I knew months ago my cousin was having a wedding and since I genuinely like my family, I knew I was going to go. Of course I would bring my camera for practice. I hate taking pictures of people but the only way to get that funky monkey off my back was to take shots. Lots of them. What better place than a wedding. People are dressed up and usually happy. Usually.

I didn’t think much about it, but I usually believe people pay for a professional photographer to record their special day. I know I would. Ok, well I didn’t. We took our own photographs. I took this in my own yard, with my own camera, and I don’t think I even processed it. Sure it’s not spectacular, but we had a small wedding. 5 people small. That image is of course not my wife’s favourite. It’s mine lol. She thinks it looks like I am getting ‘special favours’. I’m cool with that.
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But back to my assumption that people hire professionals. Well they don’t. I have been to 3 weddings in the last few months and only one had a photographer resembling anything like a professional. I even missed a wedding where I was asked to take the photos but was able to show that I couldn’t lol. Lot’s of people just don’t seem to understand the difference between a pro and people like me. I have been trying to educate them by showing them my ‘photographs’ and those of professionals. Speaking of which, one of my favourite places to stop by is Your Not A Photographer which is hilarious AND educational.

So here I am rolling up to my families wedding with my gear. If you can call a Rebel T1i, a few lenses, and a tripod; gear. In the months leading up to the wedding I never even thought to ask if they got a wedding photographer. So when I asked thirty minutes before the wedding if they had a photographer, I was slightly jolted to hear that there was just family friends taking pictures. I kinda cringed and felt a twinge of panic set in me, not sure why the bride and groom didn’t panic lol, but I started panicking for them.

Ok. No problem. The family friends must have a plan. I hope. Well turns out he was given a book full of images they want. I felt bad as all the reading I have been doing explained how difficult wedding were to do with the amount of shooting and the level of expectations. Of course, not to let someone suffer by themselves, I offered to assist him in ticking off the boxes. So there we were. Two family members taking photographs of a relatives special day. I don’t know about anyone else, but that had natural disaster written all over it.

Well 3 or 4 hours, I took 600 photos just myself, and the book checked off we finished the ceremony. I’m sure it was traumatic for many involved but I wanted to help. I figured even if I got 3 or 4 shots that were really good then it would be better than nothing. I worked on a few simple premises. 1) Don’t have stupid crap in the background. 2) No cheesy tacky junk shots 3) Try to use the natural light and use the shite onboard flash to fill in certain situations. 4) Spray and Pray 5) Not to end up on YNAP. The last one is still up in the air.

I managed to take about 5 shots that I was very happy with. Even after editing those I could still find things I wasn’t exactly thrilled with. One that note I will be going back and doing some tweaking when I have more time. But the important thing is that the happy couple are more than satisfied with the images I captured. No harm, no foul. It was family and it was free. I enjoyed myself and I hope they will remember their special day through some of my photographs. I also hope I took some stress off of other family members, especially my co-partner in wedding-photog-crime.

Loving Embrace

The above shot is OK, but more detail could be brought out in the dress. It was suggested that I even crop a bit of the dress on the right to offset the image somewhat.

First Steps as Man And Wife

The above image is over saturated but I like the story it tells. I also like the flowers in the front providing foreground for the story.

Love is a Picnic

My friend suggested I take out or reduce the tan lines in the above image. I see what he means. Some smaller edits could also work, like cleaning up the leaves.

Not a care in the world

I really like the above image. I never noticed, until I was told, that there is some lens flare. There is also a bit too much yellow / warmth. I still like it though.

Something I failed to think of, which of course my photographer friend mentioned, is that when people shoot weddings for free they take away work from a professional and lower the quality of wedding photography out there. It’s ok if its family and you do a good job. But it’s not ok if you do it for someone else. Money has to change hands in the end. A photographer spends all day shooting and will spend up to 40 hours more editing and processing those images. That photographer also puts mileage on his vehicle, computer equipment and camera gear. If it’s a good photographer they will also have insurance. Then there is the question of prints. So the next time someone asks you to shoot their wedding day, remember those things.

I have been asked  in the last few days to shoot someones wedding pictures. This request based on three things. 1) They know me through a friend. 2) They seen a few of my wedding images. 3) They priced out a wedding photographer. The last point I assume is the most important lol. I have since responded to them urging to reconsider. I politely explained that I am just a hobbyist. I mentioned what a Pro will do for them. I even gave them a link to Uncle Bob Vs. A professional Wedding Photographer for reference. The fact is they know I am not a professional and still want me to do the wedding. People can’t afford $3,000 to $5,000 for a wedding photographer these days. At least not the people I know. So your damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. I don’t know how to politely say no, so my photog friend said to tell them this: Sure I can shoot your wedding. $5,000.00

Whatever you do. Do your best and try to do it right.

Just one man’s opinion.

PS. I still hate taking pictures of people lol.

Troy Alan White

North To Alaska…almost

British Columbia has always amazed me. To be able to start your day in a rainforest and finish in boreal forests and along the way passing through; semi-arid desert, snow-capped mountains, and rolling plateaus is truly inspiring. That only takes you half way up through the centre of the province leaving days, if not weeks, left of exploring vast tracks of majestic mountains, forests, and lakes. I am happy to call BC my home. I recommend taking a motorcycle through BC up into Alaska. You won’t forget it nor regret it. Now I’m not trying to sell you on becoming a tourist here, lord knows the last thing I want is more traffic on our highways, I would rather suffer through a bad case of armpit crabs than have more tourists. But you really have to see this province to believe it.

I just got back from a trip up to Muncho Lake Provincial Park in the upper northern portion of the province. Since it was work related I wasn’t able to spend any time taking real photographs. I did take some snapshots to document my trip. We basically travelled 2000 kilometres round trip and passed through, or by, dozens of provincial parks or campsites. All of the following images were taken either from the truck or on the side of the road just to give you an idea of what you can expect if you were to drive up to Alaska from the lower states. Consider this Part 1 starting from central BC.

If you have never seen any large ungulates (hoofed animals) in the wild, you have really got to see these in person to appreciate the size and beauty of these animals. Driving from one end of British Columbia to another you can expect to see Deer, Moose, Sheep, Goats, Elk, and Caribou. In the north, around Stone Mountain Provincial Park, you will find Dall sheep all over the hillside and even the roadside.

Baby Dall Sheep

Throughout the province you will find moose. Don’t be fooled by these lumbering beasts, because they are deadly and can move with great speed. They are very protective of their young so I wouldn’t recommend getting out of your vehicle to oooh and ahhhh over them. Be very aware that they can trot up onto the highway as well and make an enjoyable road trip get very unpleasant in a hurry. But if you would like a 1000 pound animal to crash through your front windshield just ignore the signs and continue blaring Justin Boobers latest catastrophe. Keep in mind most people die doing that. Wish I could say the same for Justin…

Immature Bull Moose

Caribou frequently show up late in the season around the Steamboat Mountain area in fairly large herds. We spotted a few small groups but the images were too poor to post here. We had also spotted a few Elk but we were flying along the highway, at the speed limit of course, and I was unprepared to capture the shot.

Besides the animals, there is also an abundance of scenery along the way. Crystal green river waters, snow-capped mountain peaks, untouched valleys of forests, and a diversity of flora await the traveller in the great north. Out of the few dozen shots I snapped only a few came out half decent. Not great but then again I snapped them between bathrooms stops on the highway.

Northern Rockies

Racing River

Getting out and exploring for a few minutes always provides a few happy surprises. I never get tired of finding new plants or flowers I haven’t seen or shot before. This trip and these areas were no exception. I was pleased to nibble on wild strawberries while roaming around Muncho Lakes pristine wilderness. With only an hour or so to play with and under the constant drizzle of a threatening rainstorm I captured what I later determined to be some Grass of Parnassia.

Grass of Parnassia

Aster

While my trip was purely for work I snuck in as much sight-seeing as possible. Even living in BC my entire life, I still can’t get enough of it. British Columbia is far too large and diverse to really get to see everything even in a lifetime, let alone a road trip. In part two, when I have the chance, I will cover some of the sights of central BC south to the semi-arid desert and rangelands. Probably half-assed.
Its how I roll.

Troy Alan White

I now have four subscribers, or as I refer to them, looky-loo’s. Like people who pull over on the highway to watch a forest fire consume a small town. They are watching what can only be described as a train wreck mating with a natural disaster. Feel free to join the madness. Rest assured you will be witness to intellectually flaccid commentary, raving assholish madness, and the occasional witty remark.

Enraging Photographic Fads – An Uneducated Rant

“You know what really burns my ass? Flames this high [holds hand up to waist]. Well OK, that and a number of photographs I keep seeing. They really make me throw up a little in my mouth when I see them, and I see them a lot. Things usually annoy me and fester to the point where I snap and blurt something inappropriate out. My previous rant about photographs vs digital art really got me thinking. I really like ranting. It’s what I do on a day-to-day basis and something I have developed a taste for, similar to sunflower seeds, my crack of choice.

Today seems appropriate to mention the irritating world of water drops. How many shots of a flower petal, with a single (or more) water droplet, reflecting another flower or even some other tacky object in the droplet will we be subjected to? Apparently a lot. How many of these images must one person create? Since my previous rant  is still fresh in my mind, is the image an actual photograph anymore or is it digital art? Ok we get it,  now maybe you can show us something new.

Morguefile.com -free images for education 

Water drops. Its fun to try and capture a water drop. “OoOoooooh It’s shiny!” I did it. Then I moved on. Some people, however, are forever stuck in water drop land. Like a Brontosaurus balls deep in a tar pit. Waiting for some act of nature to put them out of their misery. For at least a decade I have been waiting for Steve Jobs or his lackies to invent the iKick, to allow users to groin kick dumbasses through their computer. My dream is still alive.

Morguefile.com

Paint drops. This is one step above regular water drops. It’s the ‘new and improved’ water drop fad. I think. If there were awards for most nauseating lack of  interesting ideas, this category would be a regular contributor. I get the desire to donkey punch these image takers. But hey, to each his/her own right?  Whatever helps you sleep at night.

paint drops splatter beautiful pictures, backgrounds and images 

Fruit dropping into water. For fuck sakes (FFS). Give your head a shake. So you like the Mona Lisa, don’t go out and try painting it over and over and over. Out of curiosity, what customer would want 1000 images of a strawberry dropping into milk on a spoon? Cherries into water? What looks like a masterpiece to you looks like lady gaga smearing her own feces all over herself to us. It’s like your herpes. Keep it to yourself.

morguefile.com

Of course, as in all of my rants, there is a little grounded reality. There are lots of great water drop photographs. Plenty of interesting paint drop captures. Some amazing images of fruit dropping into liquids. Perhaps I grow tired of things too quickly. Even crackheads throw in the towel once in a while. Maybe I am quick to judge. I know I am underqualified to judge other peoples work, but since when did that ever stop anyone.

The world of photography  is far too large to dwell in any one single subject or technique. The amount of garbage being spewn into the realm is stunning and beyond comprehension. I myself am guilty of contributing to it. But like any sentient being I am aware of my surroundings and at least make the attempt to change. I go over my work with as much distaste as I go over yours. I have deleted almost my entire first years catalouge of images. The ones I have kept are mediocre and are only left surviving to act as a reminder to myself of where I came from. Right now its not difficult as I am basically standing at the end of my driveway looking back. I haven’t made it far. Besides my grandma said she likes them and that she loves me.

I have to admit that a lot of images I described are actually better than my images.  They incorporate more techniques and understand more of the concepts, like lighting, than I do. Maybe that’s part of my disgust. They are better than me. Thats usually the trigger for most bullies right? The are jealous and angry so they take it out on others. Sounds good to me. Want to really send me over the edge? Create a crappy image of a piece of fruit dropping into a glass of water and scribble in comic sans ‘Dance like nobody is watching’ across the top.

*Note* All of the images, except the paint drops,  used in this rant were found at morguefile.com. They are free for public use. The paint drop image was linked from Layoutsparks.com. These photos were for illustrative purposes, not the specific subject of ridicule.
Troy Alan White

I now have four subscribers. I can officially call it a posse but not quite yet a following. We now have enough people to submit our registration for the Patty Cake International 4 member team tournament. Training starts monday. You too can join our bunch of merry men and women. The next 5 subscribers will be our pep squad. Free pom-poms. Note, not actual pom-poms but emails with paper cut outs.

Photograph vs. Digital Art – An uneducated rant

If you are one of those demented souls who take their crappy beautiful photographs and regurgitate them through programs and processes like Picniktm and call yourself a photographer you should seriously consider stopping. Don’t lie, I haven’t been the first one to say it to you and won’t be the last.  What you have actually created really does resemble what a mother penguin vomits up for her baby, despite what those around you say to avoid triggering your emotional self destruct button.

Now what I have said, and will continue to say, is based on a few facts that allow me to rant and rave without fear of reprisal. I am not a professional photographer. Hell I’m barely even an amateur photographer**. I don’t sell, charge, or otherwise seek to gain a profit from photographs, nor should I. I am a self-confessed asshole who likes to rant and rave about everyone’s faults, including my own, for the sheer joy of it.

Here are a few definitions for you to ponder.

Photograph: Often shortened to photo: an image of an object, person, scene, etc, in the form of a print or slide recorded by a camera on photosensitive material

Digital Art:  a general term for a range of artistic works and practices that use digital technology as an essential part of the creative and/or presentation process.

So those images you took and mercilessly pounded into submission via Picniktm, were photos before you defaced them. They may have even been decent photos but now they are akin to Satan’s bastard children. They are now considered to be digital art. I guess. I don’t particularly know or care about digital art per se; I just know that I don’t want to see that crap on a photography sharing site and passed off as photography. It belongs on your 5 year olds lunchbox, some coffee mug,  or your desktop background and nowhere else…well maybe deviant art or other sites dedicated to digital art I guess. I would post examples of this disease but its best left to the imagination. Instead I will offer a link. Click on it at your own risk but be warned, what has been seen cannot be unseen. YNAP.

Now to be fair, I will submit two of my own examples into this craptastic category but they still don’t equal the abominations I witness all too often. These are not photographs anymore, they are digital art…albeit poor examples of it. The only ones who should consider these to be photographs are friends, family, and pet enthusiasts who don’t know any better. In both instances I applied the technique merely to say that I had. Never to be applied again. I liken it to snorting  sugarless grape Kool-Aidtm mix as a child. Not very enjoyable, not something I am particularly proud of, and not something I will repeat again in my lifetime.

Remove all colour to hide the fact that I ruined the colour. Great trick hey? 

Yes, I am embarrassed.

** I feel I must point out that I have recently removed both the copyright logo as well as the ‘photography’ from my watermark to more accurately reflect the situation. I am a slow learner.
Just because I rant and rave about this topic doesn’t mean I know anything about it. Perhaps if I had professional training or a degree I would think differently. Nah…probably not. It’s my general opinion, and from that I base all my ravings and ignore anyone who would approach me with logic or fact. This technique is my specialty and allows me to sleep well at night even when I upset everyone involved. It’s my world and I only let you exist in it to serve me. [Plugs ears, closes eyes, and obnoxiously belts ‘La La La La La’]

What I’m getting at is that I don’t know the exact line that exists when a photograph ceases to be, and becomes digital art. Now photography can be digital art, but digital art can’t be photography, at least in my twisted world. Many people, including myself, utilize photoshop, lightroom, aperture, or any number of programs to tweak their images. Adjustment of exposure, lighting, colour, sharpness, and other techniques are aimed at assisting the individual paint the picture they envision. How much is too much? When does the image cease to be a photograph? Here’s a hint. When you photoshop your face into a tree, add ‘sparkles’ to everything shiny, or plaster some god-awful font across your image using someone else’s well thought out quote…its not a photograph OR photography.

I should point at this time that I have seen some amazing digital art photography. Phenomenal examples of where the photographer has painted breathtaking art using simple (and some not so simple) techniques to paint his or her picture. The majority of the storytelling took place before post processing. There are always exceptions to the rule. Especially when considering facts and figures that I conjure up in my storytelling.

I am intelligent enough to realize better people than me have said what I just did but with a more eloquent tongue but I am far too lazy to look and quite frankly I don’t care. I have scratched this itch and I can go back to my self-deprecating humour that I love so much and focus on something else. Focus on improving my photographs. I only hope and pray that you do too. If I see one more photo of you glittering up a bathroom profile picture and writing “dance like nobody is watching”, I may just get stabby

Troy Alan White

I now have three subscribers. I can officially call it a posse but not quite yet a following. We have upgraded our communications system from two cans connected with string to flashlights and morse code. You too can join and receive the special decoder ring, unless you are content to stare from your car window pretending to read the paper. Your not fooling anyone.

Finding Subjects and Pushing Boundaries

According to the following graph, I am somewhere between ‘gearfaggotry’* and ‘dammit I suck’. I don’t deny this. I accept it. It is the only way to move forward. In fact I have provided factual evidence that I entered photography in the ‘All i shoot is pretty (flowers and cats)’ phase in my previous posts. I still may be lingering in that area with occasional forays into the ‘all i shoot is bad‘ kingdom. I like to travel and keep my options open.

link provided by a member at sportsshooter.com To see full version click here
*Just for the record I don’t condone this language or encourage the use of this term. I did not create this graph (or the word) and only merely refer to it in order to give some form of reference to my level of photography. I believe the term is simply stating the fascination, dependence, or over-use of fancy gear and has no relation whatsoever to actual homosexuality. If your still offended after this explanation. GFY.

If it weren’t for the simple fact that I don’t attempt to sell my work or my ‘skills’ I would call myself a ‘fauxtog’. A term I have proudly just learned about. Guys like me are a dime a dozen and excel at providing mediocre imagery. Let these voted images be evidence to prove this mediocrity as well. At least I know my place in the world and won’t be quitting my day job OR trying to sell this crap…ever. So, let’s move on to the topic of today. Pushing ones boundaries and exploring new subjects.

 

(A good example of what failure can look like when ‘exploring’ your abilities and subjects)

Example #1 - Craptastic Boundary Pushing

Now that we have taken enough shots of flowers and cats, lets move on to dogs. Kidding. In all seriousness I have started looking for things outside my comfort zone. For me that means scenes, portraits, and landscapes. For you it could mean flowers and cats lol. I have considerably far fewer images in the last few weeks due in large part because of my conscious decision to shoot new things. Having a maniacal new puppy hasn’t helped either. That said, the biggest roadblock I face is twofold: creativity and ability.

Example 2 - Pushing Boundaries - This actually worked for me (except the reflections...)

Example 3 - Finding Subjects (this poor bastard has since cracked and fallen apart)

Creatively is easy enough to overcome. Eventually even a monkey has a good idea now and again. “It was best of times, it was the blurst of times” – Stupid Monkey. I have had a few decent ideas in the last few weeks but mother nature hasn’t cooperated yet. A few of my ‘less than decent’ ideas didn’t work because, well, they sucked. If you get really stuck you can always try to recreate another famous image. As long as you’re not trying to pass it off as original, your own, or otherwise. Creativity is not exactly a learned skill, although I am sure some form of it can be taught. I have some but most of it has been used on flowers and cats and creations that I conjure in the kitchen.
Example 4 - Finding Subjects

This is NOT a Cat OR a Flower

Ability on the other hand, is something you can’t really fake. You can either pull off the shot or you can’t. When mother nature decides to fill up our local cargo docks at the train station with creamy fog, I will find out if I can pull off the shot or not. In any case, ability is something that can be developed or learned over time if the individual so desires. I desire. Currently my abilities are limited, but that won’t stop me from pushing my boundaries, searching out new subjects, and developing new skills.

way way WAY out of my comfort zone

So, finding new subjects is rather easy. Look around. Go for a walk. Wait for them to come to you. The hard part, at least for me, is finding meaning or substance in those subjects, THEN executing the photo to create something you like. See thats the key, at least for those of us who don’t rely on photography for a source of income, to enjoy what you shoot. To improve, have fun, and most importantly like the result. Real photographers have to worry about what the client wants. Who really gives a shit what anyone else thinks? I use people. I use them to get feedback. I take the good feedback and try and put it into practice. I take the bullshit and leave it where it belongs, in a heap lying on the side of the internet highway. Not every pro is right and not every n00b is wrong. Thats the beauty of art.

Pushing your personal boundaries is just as easy. Especially for those relatively new to photography. Like an infant learning to crawl, there is so much more learning to do that it’s not worth thinking too far into the future. One step at a time. Baby steps. Look to the next stepping stone and start making your way there. Thats what I’m doing. At least when I’m not shitting my pants and vomiting all over my one piece cotton jumper.

One day in the future I hope to take an online program that will enhance whatever abilities I have learned by then. I have neither the time, patience, or money to take an actual program…and if I did I would have to go out and actually take pictures for a living. I am content being a mediocre smartass that takes pictures for the hell of it. Taking oneself seriously can be an unhappy adventure that ends with huddled sobbing in a cold shower whimpering about how unfair life is.

Troy Alan White

I now have two subscribers. Myself and someone else. We communicate with two cans and some string and pretend I know what I’m doing. Park your creeper van out front of my blog and jot down our comings and goings. Be the thrid person to subscribe and you can win big. Third place is not bad, you still get something shiny.

Shoot first, Ask Questions Later

I have to admit that I am essentially backwards when it comes to learning some things. I am reminded of the time, as a young child, I slapped (yes slapped), another kid in the face for pushing a girl down. Then I got my ass kicked by him and his two friends. I didn’t learn my lesson. Years later I told a group of well-known bullies to ‘shut the fuck up’, all because they were insulting my date who had a birthmark covering most of her face. I was chased for miles and only escaped because of my skateboard.  Did I learn yet? No. A few years after that I almost got my head smashed in because I told an overly flirtatious man, in front of his wife and friends, to “keep his dirty hands of this woman, because she doesn’t like it”. Come to think of it, I still havent learned my lesson. Don’t get the idea that I am some defender of honor, I just jump on the chance to be an asshole to someone who deserves it. I wish there were more people in the world like that.

Suffice to say I seem to be approaching the same technique with photography. Shoot first, ask questions later. I was raised around the wilderness and in small towns. All of my grandparents were farmers. My father is a forester. So it’s no big leap for me to want to shoot flowers, plants, and nature. How well I do it depends on me. Not having technical training or education in photography combined with my stubborn learning habits makes for a challenging adventure. My first shots were basically visual train wrecks, without the excitement that a train wreck offers.

Lily

 
Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)

 
radii

Now I have to admit that these learning experiences are much more enjoyable than getting punched in the face, chased across town, or threatened with death. Although I am willing to bet my learning curve would be steeper if there was some bodily threat involved for poor composition or over saturated colours. Sounds like a good startup business for me. “Take a good photo or I will kick you in the nuts”.

I have managed to improve my photographs since the time the images above were taken. It has been a year. The improvements are slight. I have a better idea of composition and creating interest. I don’t do as much post production, although occasionally I still draw outside the lines. I even notice the lighting once in a while now, whereas before it was an afterthought.

spruce gall aphid

Rosebud

Quercus

Getting those images that stand out are still just as exciting as they have always been. Thats the fun of photography. It’s not quite as much of a rush as starting an argument with some douchebag over his treatment of others, but it’s still a helluva lotta fun. I enjoy more aspects to photography now; pre-planning locations, scouting subjects, looking for good light, post-production, and sharing all have some attractions that stem from the process as a whole. These learnable, for me, have come from shooting the photographs and picking them apart when I get home. The next time I go out I have a few ideas I want to try, or a few things I want to avoid. Of course, the best thing is creating some of those photographs that people just like to look at.

Hosta

Indian Paintbrush

Red Columbine

The Scene

So my journey to this point wasn’t without its challenges and disappointments but overall it has been fun. Again, I was never really in this for any other reason than entertainment and a new family friendly addiction / hobby. I still get the urge to poke sleeping bears though, and I just might do that, but with my camera in hand.

Troy Alan White

I have one subscriber. Myself. I get mail sent to myself whenever I post a new story. Park your creeper van out front of my blog and jot down my comings and goings. Be the second person to subscribe and you can win big. Second place is not the last place of winners, it’s the first place of losers.