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06-12-2017, 03:54 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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Me: Then and Now

If you will indulge some musings, I was struck by the contrast/evolution of Paul the Photographer over the last 20 years.

This was precipitated by a recent trip to Washington and chance to reshoot Willaby Creek Falls.

To create context, I had visited Willaby Creek Falls circa 2000 when vacationing in Ocean Shores. It was roughly my second year as a "serious" phootgrapher, i.e. I planned vacations around potential photo ops. My equipment was a K1000 film camera and 2 Kitstar lens becuase my photo equipment budget at the time was nearly zero. As such, my standard image was captured at f2.8 and 1/60th of a second (because I had read somewhere that that was the slowest shutter speed one could reasonably expect to create decent images handheld). I purchased ASA 400 film and pushed it to ASA 1600 when developing.

I mention this so that the focus is not on the "poor" technical aspects of the early image. The low resolution scan certainly doesn't help either.

What really struck me was the composition of each image, the conscious choices the two Pauls made. It's the same waterfall, with the same opportunities, yet the younger (amateur) me chose the blurred foreground object framing "method". Until today, I had never really analyzed or realized the change in photographic style that has taken place of the last two decades. Since the first photo was taken, I have been judged, juried, crucified, praised, featured and castigated in various measures with regard to my work. The most obvious scars would be the "never ever had a blurry foreground object" mantra that had never more obviously manifested itself in my work than these two images.

The most recent was taken per my standard methods of crawling down a moss covered embankment of rocks and perching my tripod precariously across two rocks with the third leg in the flowing stream. At all times my bag and myself were within inches of plunging into a 6-8 foot deep stream....lol. Now bear in mind, this was a consciously chosen vantage point determined by a compositional eye honed over the last 10 years after I decided I was going to try and make some extra money selling my photography. I have been successful enough at this venture to have paid for all my past and current equipment with my earnings, so there is some validation of my expertise.

Compare that to the younger me, and the framing which was just as meticulously chosen. I remained on the trail, never venturing to water level. Instead I found various angles in which foliage shrouded portions of the image. I took 5 different images, which in film, and on my budget, was extravagant. I still remember the excitement, the sense of revelation when I "discovered" this waterfall, as if its a ghost still haunting me. Additionally, I still find the compositional choices of the younger me somewhat intriguing, although they break a cardinal rule in landscape photography. Then again diabetics still love chocolate, too....

What was the lingering fascination with this particular waterfall? I had spoken numerous times of wishing to return to reshoot Willaby Creek falls, because I remembered it fondly; it was cool, awesome, cute etc. Yet interestingly enough, I had not bothered to look at the old digital scan in close to a decade.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago... As I approached Willaby Creek Falls on the trail, my first thought was, "That can't be it." I asked my hiking companion (sister) to confirm that this was indeed the waterfall I had longed to reshoot. Indeed it was. Sadly, it was. So what changed? How jaded I have become after shooting nearly one hundred waterfalls across the country? Poor little Willaby Creek Falls no longer held the same mystique. It was a realization echoing in my head throughout the hour or so I spent trying to make amends with my fancy camera and fancy lenses. I was determined to recreate that magic.

But I could not, did not. Today when processing the new image, I could not shake a sense of disappointment, a sense of somehow being "betrayed" by my own expectations.

For reference, here are the two images prompting this introspection:




Last edited by nomadkng; 06-27-2017 at 07:27 AM.
06-12-2017, 04:06 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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You changed, the foliage changed, the equipment changed. Nothing stays the same, so deal with it.

The falls are still lovely. You did them justice.
06-12-2017, 04:30 PM   #3
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Interesting. Thanks for sharing :-). FWIW I like both photos but I agree that first one would be hard to duplicate. Think of how the falls will look in 2034!
06-12-2017, 04:33 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
You changed, the foliage changed, the equipment changed. Nothing stays the same, so deal with it.

The falls are still lovely. You did them justice.
Your pragmatism always makes me chuckle.

06-12-2017, 08:15 PM   #5
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Although I do like the new photo better, I don't have any problem with fuzzy foreground objects. Actually, it just serves as a means to draw me farther into the photo and add depth. And I don't like rules.
06-12-2017, 09:58 PM   #6
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Interesting story... I think many of us can relate, even if not specifically in terms of photography.

Your "circa 2000" photo has a bit of a primordial feel to me, possibly because of the portrait orientation.

I like both photos a whole lot.
06-13-2017, 02:52 AM - 3 Likes   #7
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Our memories of our past are certainly framed by the context of the brain processor at the time the image was ʻrecordedʻ. For the most part, those big impressionable places revisited are almost always smaller and less extraordinary than we remember them.

I think there is value in returning to reshoot places multiple times. Like shooting a portrait of a friend or a lover, the inspiration has changed, but it seems as if theyʻve changed when in fact it is more our mental processing of their image that has changed emotionally, spiritually, etc.

Often when I return to a place that Iʻve shot before, I find however, that I donʻt try to reshoot the same subject....although looking at those nearly identical viewpoints can be really interesting. Thereʻs an ice cream shop in Pubnico, Nova Scotia where a photo was taken of my ex-wife when she was three. When our daughter was three, I shot her in the exact same place and the same for my son when he was three.

Part of the charm of your first shot is the lighting and the rendering of the image with that lens and film. Your use of rule of thirds, also adds to the composition. Although technically sharper in your digital image, the lighting wasnʻt cooperating and perhaps your own disappointment is well expressed in the dark pool.

I remember being shown a spectacular shot of the Kalalau Valley in Kauai at a famous viewpoint shot by countless tourists. I asked the photographer (G. Brad Lewis) how did he get that image to be so special and he explained that he had a sort of pilgrimage to this place every year and shot there time and time again, at different times of day, with different weather conditions, and then one day he got THE shot.

06-13-2017, 04:23 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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Hi everyone, I'll introduce myself later in the week but I wanted to add to this conversation.

I live across the street from a 100+ acre park. Deer, hawks, rabbits and birds call it home.

Almost every morning I'll walk 4-ish miles and almost always carry my K70 and 16-85 and 55-300 lens.

I take photos of the same places almost every walk. At first I was getting bored, but now I've made it a personal challenge to find new ways to shoot the same places. My results don't often approach the standards I see on this site and others, but I'm having fun and getting better.

As said, I'll introduce myself later and post some of my photos.

Regards,

Frank
06-14-2017, 09:54 PM   #9
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They are both very nice, but they have a very different effect. The framing, distance to the waterfall, and foreground of the older shot makes the waterfall appear hidden, like a secret discovery, but it also makes the waterfall less visible, less prominent, lett traditional landscape to my eyes.

AND, as a diabetic, yes, I love chocolate, and there is no one to tell me no.
06-14-2017, 10:27 PM   #10
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Yes, it is a bit fuzzy, but I do prefer the composition of the older shot.
06-15-2017, 05:59 AM - 1 Like   #11
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So it's not Victoria Falls. It's still a charming little creek. It reminds me of the limestone and slate topography of parks in Cincinnati, where I spent my youth tromping in such creek valleys.

I like the landscape aspect of the first shot. The second includes too much headspace above, just showing tree canopy. If there were anything of visual interest there like a bunch of crows maybe it would be worth capturing in portrait mode. The landscape aspect makes it more intimate, focusing on the low level. The first shot is also a bit darker, maybe earlier or later in the day? The newer image seems closer to mid-day, with more light penetrating the trees, the mood is different.
06-15-2017, 06:46 AM - 1 Like   #12
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One of my favourite images has some purple fringing between the trees and sky. Tess noticed it and pulled it from our exhibitions, saying, " It was shot with the K-20D, we can do better now." Well despite going back 5 times, we've never done better. In nature it's all about lighting conditions being appropriate to the subject. And you can't plan that.

The canvas now sits down in the basement washroom that Tess never uses, where I still enjoy it thoroughly. It deserves better.

Many times, at shows people have asked me where a picture was taken. I always tell them. But I also tell them if they like the image buy the image, they will get an image of that place, but it probably won't look like this one.
06-15-2017, 11:23 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Many times, at shows people have asked me where a picture was taken. I always tell them. But I also tell them if they like the image buy the image, they will get an image of that place, but it probably won't look like this one.
This is so very true. People getting into photography over estimate the place and the equipment while under estimating both the time and the photographer. They think if they just go to that exact location with the exact camera, lens, and settings, they can get the same shot.
06-15-2017, 11:40 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
This is so very true. People getting into photography over estimate the place and the equipment while under estimating both the time and the photographer. They think if they just go to that exact location with the exact camera, lens, and settings, they can get the same shot.
I've been asked by people how i can go to the same place over and over again. The answer of course is, it's different every time. The humidity is different, the angle of the light is different, the time of day is usually different, the weather is different, the clouds are different I have never returned to a landscape location, and ended up with similar images. Most people wouldn't even recognize some as taken in the same place. The first thing you train your eye to see as landscape photographer is magical light. I can go through a 6 day trip and take 200 frames, then one day the light is for some reason magical, and I shoot 200 frames in a half hour. It's simply not about the gear.
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