I went back to the park this afternoon for two reasons, I have too much time on my hands and I like to watch the progress of the spring flowers. And I’m obsessed with photography and if I don’t get out of the house I go stir crazy, so four reasons.
Yesterday the crocuses were closed for the day and today they were open for business. What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours…
I wasn’t going to post these photos because I felt they weren’t good enough. The first shot is the original; the second one is cropped and processed in Lightroom. The flower is perfect, but the photos are far from it in my opinion. “Live your life as an experiment” said Chögyam Trungpa, so I will consider that and maybe learn something in the process.
I’ve been at the garden of five senses in Lancaster County Central Park photographing these snowdrops since they came up early this month. Out of close to a thousand images I saved less than ten, because none were exactly what I wanted, none of them were perfect.
I was taught in rehab, both times, that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity, but I was not there for a photography obsession. As every photographer knows, a photo can always be better; we know this is true from all those terrible shots of Bigfoot.
So when does the search for the perfect photo go from an enjoyable hobby to an all consuming obsession? Maybe it’s a question of quality, an inquiry into values. But as Robert Pirsig found out, this is a very slippery slope.
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig said; “You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” Oh.
So no more going back to the park at dusk every afternoon waiting for that amazing light and trying for the perfect photo, been there, done that. I’ll go back at dawn when the sun is rising just over the trees tops, lighting up this little patch of miracles in a way that I can only describe as perfect. And I’ll try again.
This is a photo I took of some old keys, obviously. It was a simple matter of arranging, lighting, taking a few shots on a tripod, processing the RAW files in Lightroom, editing in Photoshop, and then a little tweaking in Photomatix Essentials for an HDR effect.
So I asked myself, am I obsessive, compulsive or possibly both? I wasn’t sure so I did some research on the five types of OCD.
The first type is cleaning obsessions, such as cleaning your camera and lenses with a special microfiber cloth kept in a special package and folded in a special way.
Next are checking obsessions, which can include checking camera settings frequently like shooting modes, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus points, exposure mode and white balance.
The third type is obsessions without visible compulsions, which can involve intrusive thoughts such as previsualization, and in extreme cases this is known as Dryshooting.
Not surprisingly there are also hoarding obsessions, which may involve accumulating tripods, lens hoods, filters, and new equipment of all kinds whether you need it or not (do not keep a copy of the B&H photo video catalog under your bed).
And finally, obsessions with ordering, arranging and counting compulsions, which would realistically be almost everything else involved with photography.
So in my case, the answer might be yes, but it gives me something to do and it’s much better than sitting in a recliner, drinking vodka and watching daytime TV. (I’m guessing).