When you are a photographer, you train your eye to see things differently. Some people see in graphic shapes, other are keenly aware of human emotions and other have the ability to see the world in shades of black and gray. What they all have in common is the talent of capturing moments in there minds eye. Whether or not those “images” are ever captured on film or a sensor is another story altogether. And sometimes what is imagined to be a great image in the making just doesn’t live up to what we have “seen” in our minds eye.
The other day I was walking down the street with my dog on our afternoon walk. We have walked this route together for over three years. And each time we wait at a particular corner for the light to turn green, I look up to see a familiar sight. To honor the memory of a woman who had died, someone constructed a crucifix and affixed a copy of her obituary. This was then nailed to a telephone pole 5 years ago. I guess this is just one of those things where no one trusts themselves to take it down. And why should they? After all, it is a loving tribute.
I was sure this had the makings of a great shot. I couldn’t clearly “see” the composition in my mind, but the ingredients where there, I was sure of that. So after taking my dog home and grabbing my Fuji X-E2 and a 18-55mm lens, I headed back to the location, ready to do what I had thought about doing for a long time. The light was less that desirable, but I convinced myself it was exactly right. Bright overcast. A white sky devoid of interest. I got myself organized, checked my camera settings and exposed about 12 shots from various angles. Sure that I had “nailed it”, I headed home to import the shots into Light Room.
Hmm. Sometimes the thought of something far surpasses the reality. The “thought” of eating “fast food” sounds good, until you’re done and have that feeling of a brick sitting in your stomach. That was my initial reaction to the pictures I had just shot. But, being the optimist that I am, I got right to work seeing what could be “salvaged” in post processing. In other words, can I save it or not.
After an hour of fiddling between Light Room and Photoshop, I decided to go back for a re-shoot. The skies had cleared and the light was different. Not necessarily better, but different. I had just hoped it would be better. I returned to my computer for round two. Sure (but not positive) that this time around would provide an image that would meet my expectations.
After importing the shots, and another session of Photoshop / Light Room I came to the conclusion that this needed to be a night shot. Illuminated by the streetlamp located from above, this would surely provide the missing element of drama that this image so desperately needed.
So, after dinner, and again with the dog on the end of the leash, I headed back to my all too familiar location. At this point I need to say, this street corner is only 2 blocks from our house, less my readers think my dedication to this shot was more than it really was. I asked my wife to go along with us, which she was all to glad to do.
This time, with tripod over my shoulder, (providing a silhouette of a man with an assault rifle) we headed over to Anderson and Waters Ave. The entire corner was lit up by sickly yellow glow of the streetlights and the passing headlights from traffic. The exposure was determined to be about 8 seconds at ISO 200 / f5.6. I captured about 15 shots, again from the few angles available that did not put me in the middle of oncoming traffic. I felt better this time knowing I have covered my bases. Morning, afternoon and nighttime. What more could I do? Surely there would be an outstanding image in this final batch of exposures.
At home, sitting quietly in front of my computer screen, I came to the realization that not all things that we see and find fascinating will translate into an equally captivating photograph. Some things are just meant to be experienced “in the moment” and not captured for eternity in 2 dimensions.
For right now, I think this image is just one of those things. But as I sit here writing this blog, the morning sun is rising, and I cannot help but wonder how the light is falling on the crucifix. Maybe I’ll have to take the dog for another walk.