“I mean, maybe I am crazy. I mean, maybe. But if this is all there is, then I don’t want to be sane.” Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
“He was a gentle giant, a big guy with a big heart.” Ann Murphy
“He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.” P.G. Wodehouse
It seemed like a perfect day to go back to bed and fantasize about winning the Powerball. An hour after that thought I was standing on the tracks in thirty degree weather waiting for the steam engine in Strasburg.
I saw it in the distance and got out of my car to find that the wind was twenty miles an hour blowing directly into my face. But since I like a challenge I set my camera to speed priority and gave it a shot (26).
Tears were streaming down my face, I was almost shooting blind, and the only other photographer probably figured they were tears of joy. Maybe some of them were, but at that point I was once again thinking about taking up golf.
While the composition could be better I was surprised that the image was sharp and was glad that I forced myself to go out. To be honest my obsessive compulsive photography disorder got me out but it didn’t matter.
I probably won’t win the lottery tonight and if I do I have a feeling I’ll be doing the same things in the same way. Maybe I’ll pull up to this spot on a brand new motorcycle, but I’ll still be standing there with a camera, waiting.
“There is no doubt that creative work is itself done under a compulsion often indistinguishable from a purely clinical obsession. In this sense, what we call a creative gift is merely the social license to be obsessed.” Otto Rank
Note to self: check the date on my social license to be obsessed, I don’t want it to expire anytime soon.
I woke up today at 6:30 and decided to go back to bed. Thirty minutes later I was standing in a field taking more photos of the same sunflower as in my last post.
I remembered the tiny voice of the flower talking yesterday: Get closer it said and use your monopod. As I waited for the right light I realized that the plant was at least a foot taller than me so handheld it was.
I struggled to hold the camera steady and get as close as I could, occasionally chimping and deleting any image that was not tack sharp or at least close. As the wind picked up I had the funny feeling that this was completely ridiculous.
I think maybe the miracle of a single flower is that it doesn’t struggle, anything that happens is perfectly fine. Life could be the same way, whatever happens or is going to happen is beyond our control so resisting it is pointless.
As I was sitting in my car zooming in on each image I heard very soft laughter coming from somewhere. It turned out to be someone feeding the goats but I have a feeling that the flowers were smiling that I got the message.
Of course I’ll be doing the exact same thing tomorrow. Maybe unusual things made from wood, shot wide open, converted to black and white and resized to exactly 1000 x 1294 (more or less).
The amount of time I spent trying to get a black and white abstract image of these tobacco leaves bordered on obsessive compulsive (oh yeah). You might think that since a photo is abstract that sharpness and composition don’t matter but they do, to me at least.
I’m not sure exactly what I was trying to achieve but I think I succeeded. Kirk Varnedoe, author of Pictures of Nothing wrote: “The less there is to look at, the more important it is that we look at it closely and carefully. This is critical to abstract art. Small differences make all the difference.”
Damn right! And photography also keeps me out of the bar.
When you photograph sunflowers in color, you photograph their leaves. But when you photograph them in black and white, you photograph their souls.
It was 50 degrees and climbing this morning when I headed to Lititz, which has been called the coolest small town in America. The Fire & Ice Festival begins tonight and I wanted to watch them carve the ice sculptures and take some photos.
As usual I got there way too early but eventually they began to massacre the blocks of ice with chainsaws, then use other tools to chisel out amazing detail. There was a large ice chair, a John Deere tractor and this one which will be a newspaper boy.
In hindsight I should have paid more attention to the background, used a very wide aperture, shot in manual and got closer ignoring the ice chips shooting everywhere. I knew they would be carving 72 more sculptures but I had no intention of waiting.
Being a perfectionist bordering on obsessive (see blog name) I have to learn to enjoy the experience, good photo, bad photo or no photo. Author Edmond Mbiaka wrote: “When it comes to perfection, the most that we could possibly do is to continuously push closer and closer to it. It is truly something to aim at, just to see how close you could get to it.”
I knew I should have got closer!
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).