The Importance of Play

I don’t do flowers. At least I don’t take pictures of flowers as subjects. I use them as props or backdrops or the like every once in a while. It’s not that I have anything against pictures of flowers. I’ve seen some photographs with flowers as subject matter that are breathtaking. Same goes for peppers or toilets but most pictures of flowers are rather pedantic. Then again so are most pictures of everything unless seen in an interesting manner.

We all get so caught up in the gear, and the technique, and some moronic quest for the ne plus ultra of some quantitative factor that we forget sometimes about the other side of photography. The creative part, the conceptual part, the seeing part. That seeing part is multifaceted, on the one hand it’s really seeing what’s in front of your camera and exploring it deeply. On the other hand it’s seeing it in a somewhat abstract way. All photographs are abstract by nature, it’s a matter of degree. Seeing what it looks like, seeing what it is, seeing the subject as a slice out of time, seeing the motion or grace. All of that is difficult when also paying attention to 1,000 other things that go into the photographing of something.

I’ve discussed the importance of play when it comes to photography a while back with LaRoque. Even knowing and understanding that importance isn’t a cure for the traps we all fall into of not paying attention, not seeing our subject in all of the different ways that word seeing can mean. It’s easy not to do that. Constant effort is the answer, some sort of renewal. A way to scrape the cynicism and myopia from in front of your eyes. Even doing so keeping that spirt alive when you are live and in color with a subject on any given day, bringing it all to the table is the mental challenge that vastly overwhelms any of the techno-crap.

During the course of the week I wrote about the virtues of two picture taking devices that I enjoy immensely. Most of what I conveyed was gear-talk with a bit of how those devices make me feel when in use. The second part is probably a bit more important. I’ll bring up the little Ricoh GR again merely to illustrate how different that camera is than one that’s in a bag waiting for you to make a decision that photographs need to be made. The GR is on hand far more than the other type of camera. Some people feel that way about their phone camera. For some reason I just cannot feel that way — a nagging feeling overwhelms me that’s along the lines of ”why bother” so I never actually take pictures with a cell phone. If I actually do my photography brain is so disconnected that it turns into I shouldn’t have bothered.

I grab the GR and take it with me almost everywhere I go. In most cases it’s even with me during my daily two pots of coffee and a bunch of cigarettes wake up routine. Today was no different. As the fog of sleepy-ness started to subside after my second cigarette I started noticing how different the sunlight angles are compared to just a few weeks ago.

It all started with this. Of course all that coffee caused the need for a stop off in the loo. While washing my hands I noticed I kinda liked the colors of some things laying around the sink which turned into this.

Which gave me an idea regarding the pedantic nature of the flowers I took a few pictures of during earlier that blow. I went back outside with yet another cup of coffee and after two experiments started making things like this…

Of course I tried lots of things along these lines. Like the shot at the top. I played with various motions, color combinations, a few different levels of shutter motion blur stuff, arranging the shadow/lights in different proportions, etc.

I think I was messing around for about a half an hour. It was fun. Was it productive? I don’t know, certainly not in any direct way but I will telly you this is not the first time I’ve played with motion. It won’t be the last. I even have a very specific project on the list of personal work that involves motion blur. This experiment has me re-thinking by initial black and white vision for that project.

Of course I just had to go back to the abstract-y light angles I was seening in the first place.

Just some food for thought on a few levels.

Have a great weekend.


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