Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Insisting Subject

     There's another subject that's been bugging me for a long time (even today) that makes me want to keep going back to the scene.  Good thing it's not so far.  But let me paraphrase something that kept me going when I I'm about to give up:
"When something caught your eye, there must be something in there.  Don't give up and keep looking." --Scott Kelby
     Let me also add one thing that I told my friend, Frederick Mount (Check him out!), while we were talking about our media:
"Sometimes it's not what you just see in there but what you put in there (to complete the scene)" --Jackson

     My first visit with this shed, I had no idea what to do with it.  I kept going round and around it.  Losing light, I just gave up and took a couple of pictures of what's around it.  These were still during my earlier days where I'm still figuring out other techniques and stuff.

Warm Colors in Cold Weather
I could criticize this photo until it dies but the time I took this and saw it on screen, I was proud of it.  All that mattered to me was getting enough reflection of the island.  Back then, I didn't even know much about horizons and rule-of-thirds and exposures and all that blah.
Pretty Much What I Can Do
At this time, this is one technique I can do.  Not so great but I was always excited to photograph light trails on interesting roads.  Although this was just half of its "interestingness" it's pretty much what I could do that time.  Maybe it's time to revisit this one too?

     My second visit was even more infuriating.  I went back to the scene and see nothing has changed.  Nothing!  I still roamed around and in and out of the subject.  The spots I took picture of are still there.  Yet the subject that I meant to photograph is still not speaking to me.  So I end up going further down the road to check what else was out there.

Don't get me wrong.  I like this picture.  But it felt more like a consolation prize.  And "A for effort" thing for just coming here.  I'm also curious about this bundling of straws 'cause it's one of those Korean thing that I'm not so informed of.
     I took a different approach on my third visit.  My initial thought was to photograph some star trails.  This scene came into plan when I was figuring out a good foreground for the sky.  At the same time, I was trying to learn the progression of sky's blueness and at which time is best to take them.  So there's a lot of factors on the plate.  But by the time I went back to the place, the sun was coming out too fast.  Plans changed and I try to scramble what other things could play while the light isn't still too harsh.

To the Max
The other half of the "interesting road" I mentioned above.  Well, I still find this road interesting but it looks bare.  I figured I'd add Max to the image to give a bit more "travel" theme.  I think it worked.  Max looked sexy despite his age and condition.
     I ended up taking a trip back home and took pictures of some other things on my way.  It was a productive day but not the products I initially aimed for.

     This was when I gave up.  No matter how many times I visit this shed, I could never find a way to photograph it to my satisfaction.  It's not like I tried.  But in every corner with every envisioning, I can't come up with anything.

     Some time passed by and I watched one of Scott Kelby's Google+ seminar (found it by accident).  As he said, I shouldn't give up.  So again, since it's been a while, I decided to revisit this shed.  It was late in the afternoon, overcast so I shouldn't expect blue skies, but night time is mostly where I shine.  This time, I decided to just shoot whenever I have a slight idea.  Fix it later if I see something.  I guess shooting something to learn from, is better than visualizing alone.

Shed 1
First attempt.  I thought of framing the whole shed but with all the shrubbery and unnecessary posts/sign/houses/wires/trees going around, I got frustrated and just shot it this way.  In one way, I like the bokeh at the left.  On another, it doesn't belong to the whole image, I think.

Shed 2
This time I took a tighter shot.  I think this is not the best view of the subject but it's also the cleanest.  This time I'm focusing on the markings.  I just thought it should look a bit more Korean than anything else.

Shed 3
At this time I was panicking 'cause I'm losing light really fast.  If I have any more ideas before it gets dark, that was the time.  But with really low light, I can't think of anything else... and then it hit me!  Light!  That's what I needed to create a bit of drama.  I get lots of them from cars passing by every 5 minutes.  I also had my speedlight and flashlight with me... and good old Max.
     Dancing back and forth, round and around this shed again, I realized it wasn't the shed that's bugging me.  It was what I'm not adding there.  No matter which angle I shoot this subject, it'll still be an empty shed.  The idea dawned to me when I started adding light from different directions.  Sometimes I wait for buses/cars to pass by and take a shot.  Sometimes I couldn't wait long enough that I park Max  somewhere and hit the lights.  I got to the point where I was satisfied with the lights and shadows (This is one thing I like with night shooting.  The lights can stay where I want them... no chasing).  The shed pictures still seem a bit empty to me.  Then a thought struck me; adding a human element might help.  There's no other human around but me (or if there'd be someone willing to help out).  So I thought, "Why not?"

      While thinking of how I can add myself to the scene, setting up extra gear and everything else, I also thought of what my poses should be.  Now I'm not fond of setting up scenes to photograph.  Let alone posing for my own portrait.  But I had to roll with my trail of thoughts.  And the trail lead me to add this day to "Tell your story in four frames."  An idea I copied from a Flickr Group.  So here goes nothing...

Chapter 1 "Empty."

Chapter 2 "Still Waiting."
     Since I already evoked my feelings (This shade is empty... so is my world.  And waiting for something to happen... like a good picture) in 2 frames, I was running out of ideas.  But I know my story isn't finished yet.  Then I remembered  my ghost shot.  A happy accident.  And I wouldn't want to waste what I learned from that picture.

Chapter 3 "Uncertainty"
     I'm about completely satisfied with the image above.  I got my ghost image of myself and the emotion was spot-on (I believe so).  But since it's a four-frame story, I have to come up with a finish.  This time, I analyzed the timing to make myself a bit more translucent but highlights should make a strong shape.  I also noticed I missed some lighting in front of the scene.  But I can't figure out how to do it since my hands were full.

     Something happened in the middle of this shooting session.  For some reason, a car came aggressively straight and parked very near me.  With its head lights flashed so rudely to my camera.  Whoever was in there, I think he noticed me going back and forth and around that shed and got curious/suspicious.  Probably a park police of some sort. I was upset that the driver kept his lights on as if watching what I'd do next.

     But this gave me an idea.  I used the car's lights to give me back light, and use Max's to illuminate the front of the subject.  Lemons to lemonade, I guess.  But I was still upset.  It's a very good thing I got the shot I wanted.  Because after 2 takes (it took them 10 minutes to stay there watching me... with their lights on), the car left.

Chapter 4 "Wait Eternal"
     This day with the shed taught me a bunch of things even without knowing.  Sometimes visualizing is not enough.  Although I spent a lot of camera clicks, it's what it took for me to learn.  It's not also giving up without giving everything you got.  I was hesitant during my previous visits, and got nothing.  I went back and just clicked away, and one shot lead to another.  I also needed to learn how to work with whatever comes.  Losing light, cars passing by, cars parking, que serra serra.  The best part though is that I got a shot.  Not exactly what I initially thought but I was satisfied.


  1. Phoenix, I think they bunch up the straw like that to protect plants and delicate trees from the harsh winter frosts..... This is a maybe, but I've seen them doing it this time of year last year on plants.

    1. I just assumed it's their way of gathering straws for their cattle this winter.

  2. By knowing me you know that this post is my kind of story right... hahaha! I am really jealous of what you've got there and at the same time so pleased with such. I said its familiar the other photos and I remember that clean road with your motorcycle... I love the scene! I am a nature lover so as usual my smile reaching my ears as I stare with your photography... :)Tuloy I don't know how to react with the theme but above all I love this!