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  • Writer's picturercburton2

one in a hundred

In which I relate my effort to get "the shot"

An expedition is coming up and I really only want one good picture.

The wall space in my booth at art shows is very limited. In fact, at this point if I get a good photo then I must decide which one of the others must go.… They’re all my favorite children, you know.

Of course, I’m not averse to getting a half dozen good shots on any one outing but it invariably happens that each of the new ones is not a favorite child and I must admit a couple of step-children in the bunch.* (see footnote)

There is excitement in the process.

First: the atmospheric type. There are times when there is fog, early or late light, even blindingly bright light of mid-day. This is time when it seems as though even an everyday shot can be transformed into something special.

Second: the potential type. (Framing, components, post-processing ideas). I see the shot in my mind. It is of course dependent on a perfect execution. These are the shots when someone will comment as I set up the tripod, “what are you taking a picture of?” It is not obvious except to the mind’s eye. Sometimes it does not work out; then I declare that "it didn't translate".

Third: the windfall. This is when all the elements coincide. There is a bit of adrenalin that comes in. Sometimes I get so set on the shot that in my hurry I make a careless mistake. Even when it is a static subject I can feel like it is going to get away. I make myself slow down, even if after it's after the shutter clicks and I have to try again.

Later, sometimes days later, it is like how it used to be back in the film days when I had to wait on the photo lab. With film I would take 20 shots and have to anticipate how the shots I took would turn out. There was disappointment, surprise and maybe even success. It is the same with digital. I download the photos to the computer and get to look at what I have on the monitor. You can look at the back of the camera and get an idea, but it doesn’t really go very far in evaluating things like focus and color balance. The monitor tells all.

It is only when they are downloaded that I can look at them critically and start the culling process. What worked. What can I work on? The culling process normally gets me down to three shots that I will bother doing any post processing on. There are a lot of good shots -- “pretty as a calendar” shots -- but I need ones that have the X Factor. They will be the ones that draw your eye and create an mood and emotion. When the three finalists are processed I must generally decide on one. That is the one gets printed…20"x30". It is destined for the wall at my next art show.

It is all theoretical, of course. Sometimes I have a photo that I love, but there is little reaction to it from any one else.

When I cooked for Becky the first couple of times I believed I was a good cook but I thought that perhaps my own taste and prejudice played a role. She liked my cooking a lot. (In fact, we don’t go to restaurants any more.)

It is the same with the photos. I take them to a show and watch the reception. It is then that I am sure that the one in a hundred from the field proves itself.

*Metaphorically speaking of course. Among real children my step-children would be dearly loved.


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