Déjà vu all over again

Horse and buggy parking May
Horse and buggy parking May

It’s been said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity. But it’s also been said that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

So I was at Walmart this morning and I remembered a photo I took of a horse and buggy back in early March (Overexposed at Walmart). I had overexposed it accidentally but decided the result was “more interesting than all the other shots that have histograms like the Himalayas.”

There he was, the exact same horse and buggy in the exact same spot (the horse knows the way) so I shot him. And again I overexposed but purposely this time, converted to black and white and called it art.

I did the same thing slightly differently and expected the same results, so this is either a variation of insanity, madness or a combination of both. According to one definition, insanity is the state of being insane while madness is the state of being mad. Oh.

In his Pulitzer Prize winning book The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker wrote: “The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.”

I’ve been to the madhouse and although I didn’t bring my camera, the photographic possibilities were endless. Maybe next time.

Right Thinking on the Path

On the path
On the path

Right thinking is part of the Noble Eightfold Path, and is a way to achieve spiritual enlightenment and end suffering. But there is more than one kind of right thinking.

I used to hear people say: “Just expose to the right, everyone does it.” Well, everyone does not do it, and when someone says this in the shower room at the gym it can be confusing.

So I’m on the path photographing white flowers, and I start thinking about ETTR (exposing to the right). Briefly, the concept is to overexpose a bit and fix it later in post processing. Many concepts, like riding your motorcycle at twice the speed limit seem to make sense, but end up backfiring. So it is with ETTR.

Another thing I used to hear people say is: “The histogram is your friend.” He might be, but he reminds me of the friend that used to show up at my house on Friday nights, with very expensive plans and a very empty wallet.

The important thing is to stay on the path and learn these things for yourself. The Buddha said: “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

As you walk the path take time to shoot the flowers, in any way that makes you happy.

Overexposed at Walmart

Horse and buggy parking
Horse and buggy parking

As every fifth grader with a Hasselblad knows, getting the exposure right is not as easy as making a viral video of your cat. But by learning some basic principles, you can expose like a pro in just a few short years.

There is a well know method known in some circles as the golden triangle, which is not to be confused with Asia’s main opium producing area. The golden, or exposure triangle as it’s also called, is using the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed in the right combination to produce the results that you want.

Histograms can also be helpful, but like speed limit signs they are only a suggestion. The best way to learn exposure as well as other basics like metering, aspect ratio and composition is to practice.

Occasionally you may slightly overexpose a photo of something, maybe a horse and buggy in a Walmart parking lot, and realize that the effect is more interesting than all the other shots that have histograms like the Himalayas.

Play with the contrast in post processing, convert to black and white, and give it a title that suggests surrealism. Then, as if that isn’t enough, throw in a quote from Alfred Stieglitz such as: “In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

Once you master exposure, practice photographing clouds and call them equivalents.