Thursday, October 8, 2009

Talking to Clementine - working an idea

Yesterday I was out working on some ideas and shooting for a photo challenge. The challenge is shooting horses at 50mm which is just a hideous focal length for horses. I thought I would share a little of my process for two reasons. First of all, photography is work. Nobody makes a masterpiece in 15 minutes on the first try. And, second of all, is the fun I have communicating with horses. It never ceases to delight me.

The creative process has four stages: preparation, incubation, insight and verification. The way I work is to come up with some ideas by looking at existing work, reading and frequently Googling (preparation). Next I start brainstorming, I think of all the ways I can imagine to shoot horses at 50mm so I don't just go out there without a thought in my head (incubation).

Next, I go out there and try some stuff. I see how the light looks in the pasture, look for cool scenes or interesting colors. I see how the horses are acting. I am hoping for insight!
Insight is the subjective experience of having the idea or “aha” moment when you are seized by something that you think will work and be cool.

After the shoot I come back to my computer and look at my shots and evaluate. This is the verification of the completed idea. Does it suck? Is it fantastic? How can I improve on the insight?

Most of the time, we shoot more than once. Work it, baby!

Okay, so I went out to the horse pasture with my 50mm ideas. Here is a story of one shot that I like pretty well. And, here comes the horse communication part of the story.

This is Clementine. She is a horse friend of mine. I love shooting her because she is so beautiful and has a really fun draft horse attitude. She is totally calm yet still intelligent and opinionated. She was just standing out in her field. This is 50mm. What a hideous and crappy snapshot, right?

I was wandering around and there is a big sycamore along the fence line that looked like it had some pretty light. So, I went over and tried a test shot at 50mm to see if it might be promising. I thought it could be cool if Clem would stand under the tree for me.

Lots of times I find that simply asking the horse by speaking out loud works. So I said "Clem, it would be great if you would come stand right here under this tree." I am sure you think this is insanity but somehow verbalizing your intention helps communicate it and crystallize it. Clem came wandering over and I guided her under the lowest hanging limbs. Here is the first shot. Looks like she is saying "Is this where you want me?"

The starburst was one of my ideas for 50mm. Because the focal length is so short, I could get away with a small aperture of f/16 which makes the starburst from a ray of sunlight.

And, here was the original image I had in mind when I first saw the tree.

Am I done? No. I don't like the fly mask. I will go back and work the scene again and see what I can do with it. But, I think the insight is good. Its an idea worth working on.

Learn To Take Photos


Rita said...

HI, I hate fly masks and usually take Diesel's off before I start shooting. Sometimes I even bring a brush to knock the visible dirt off!
I know, I am anal! LOL!
Clem is cute and I love your idea I have a cute photo of horse under tree.


Vox said...

I think the fly mask gives the picture depth and implied meaning. It seems to say something instead of just be a pretty shot. Keep it!