I was flipping through some old photos and I found this waterfall from British Columbia. What caught my attention was that it was taken exactly three years ago today. This is just below the massive Shannon Falls north of Vancouver. When I took this it was in full flow from the spring runoff, so I imagine it would be the same now.
I took this with the Sony A7R, which was still fairly new at the time. I had had it for only a couple of months and was still learning its ins-and-outs. Looking at this now makes me want to take a trip back to the Pacific Northwest and go waterfall hunting. For a landscape photographer waterfalls are big game.
A lot has transpired in the last three years. In that time I've taken close to a hundred thousand images. They're not all winners mind you, in fact only a very small percentage of them are what I'd consider "good". In one sense photography is a numbers game. The more you do the better your odds. Eventually you get some good ones.
When I get asked how I got to where I am the answer is simply that I take a lot of photos; some turn out good. That’s not to diminish the effort, but it’s more repetition than anything. If you get out and take pictures, magic eventually happens. If you want to take good photos, take a lot of photos. Eventually you’ll get some real winners.
I took this with the new lens that I purchased from Sony. It’s a 85mm and I shot it wide open at f1.8. I’ve been missing this focal length since switching from Nikon several years ago. I could have purchased one earlier but for one reason or another never got around to it. I’m glad I waited because from what I can tell this new version performs identical to lenses three times it’s price. The first time I used it was on a trip to the Bahamas. As we were walking through the shops and alleyways I took a few shots to see what it could do.
Yesterday I wrote about how street photograph allows us to study a scene later. As for myself, I miss a lot of little details when I’m in the scene. I think we all do that, its natural. If three people walk into a place, each will see something different, like the three blind men and an elephant story. Maybe it’s wired into our DNA that we scan for predators which prevents us from seeing everything clearly.
This is where photography can play a role. It gives us a second chance to go back and see what was really going on. When I compare a photo to what I thought was going on it’s usually different to one degree or another.
Each type of lens allows us to record the same scene from a different perspective. Stand in one spot and aim the camera using a telephoto lens. Then aim it at the same spot with a wide-angle lens. Each capture will create a very different image.
Since each focal length creates a different perspective, choosing one allow us to go back later and see what we missed from that perspective. And of course there are infinite possibilities.
I think I’ve analyzed the hell out of that for now, but hey, that’s just how my brain works sometimes. Maybe I could just sum up the whole subject by saying that I’m digging the world at 85mm.
When I was last here in Vancouver I walked around Gastown at night and this is the first shot I got. It's a random shot of the people and their neighborhood. I have vivid impressions of this part of town; mostly that it’s a cool place to hang out. There are bistros and bars galore and you can find anything you might be looking for. I also remember being amazed at how many people were smoking weed in the open, not just here but all over Vancouver. That’s a little like Amsterdam I suppose, not so unusual when compared to other progressive cities.
Street photography, especially at night, is a window on the soul of a neighborhood. I find that from random shots come insights into the character of a place. When walking around we observe a place but when we look at an image we study it. It’s not easy to study something when you are in it. Maybe that’s the attraction to street photography, it allows for a character study of the people and a place.
There is a symbiotic relationship between our neighborhood and us. When we talk we say; she is from this or that part of the city, as though it conveys some sense of character identity. Ever notice that?
I’ve learned to appreciate street photography almost by accident. The more I do it the more I learn. In the end, it’s people and their relationship to their surroundings that comes through. You can see into it anything you want but for me it’s vignettes of life that I can study and learn from.