Renaissance Musings on Writing and Photography

By now it should be apparent that I am a writer first. Although I dearly love and enjoy photography, the purpose of my photography is to tell a “real world” story. My idea of a “nearly” perfect photo is for it to portray what you or anyone else would have seen had you been there with me. I am not sure if this is what is called journalistic or reality photography, but that is how I see myself—as a writer/journalist who uses photography to spark or advance a story. Almost every image has a story. The story is usually a bit of personal history, natural history, or history-history.

As for the photography, I sort of follow the old newspaper photographer’s mantra; “f8 and be there.”*

One or Two Aircraft?

One or Two Aircraft?

All of this reflects the fact that my first real job was teaching high school biology and general science. From a young age—ten or so—when I first got a camera, my interest was to photograph and record everything I encountered. My skills and equipment advanced through high school and college, and when I started teaching, I had a good collection of acceptable transparencies (“slides”) that I could use in different lessons of these courses.
I do so enjoy the work of Leanne Cole, Laura Macky, Dan Shehan and others—whose work routinely rises to the level of true art. At times I am even envious, but not enough to change my approach.

There is much luck in special photos, but we increase the odds of good luck by making the effort to

There is much luck in special photos, but we increase the odds of good luck by making the effort to “show up” somewhere.

I also enjoy, from time to time, working in Photoshop or other programs to create something approaching artistic, but that is not my primary photographic goal. I don’t mean to sound snobbish at all, but I personally want to convey the raw, “un-managed” view provided by Nature (unless, of course, Nature chooses to throw in her own effects such as fog, dramatic lighting or a mirage).

There are exceptions, sort of. I find that monochrome images often interpret an image better than color, especially, if geometric patterns, textures and/or shadows are more important to the visual image than colors. Also, I do like the “feel” of monochrome, especially when “age appropriate,” such as an historic site or object that would have originally been photographed in black and white, or a sepia tone photo.

New plan for the coming months

In keeping with my self-proclaimed Renaissance persona, I am planning several different topical series over the next few months. The Photo of the Week will continue, but to that I will add another series or two that will have different themes. Of course, all (well most) will include one or more of my photos that relates to the theme.
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*As my cousin explained it to me: “…f8 and be there” is a quote attributed to “Weegee”, a photojournalist (real name Arthur Fellig). The phrase is camera geek advice for shooting Tri-X B/W film with a 4×5 Speed Graphic press camera. Large format gives decent to excellent resolution, f8 gives decent depth of field. You can push Tri-X 400 two or three stops to cover low light shots and still have a good image, certainly good enough for a newspaper of the day.

I have used a 4×5 Speed Graphic. It is a handheld view camera that uses sheet film. It is a bear to use, but it takes awesome photos.

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5 Responses to Renaissance Musings on Writing and Photography

  1. And I wish I understood that last paragraph! Accepting there are ‘genres’ in photography, I am an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to getting a picture, but a consummate professional when I am composing a story. Mostly I have to make do with the pictures inside my head!

    • merlinjr01 says:

      I am not sure I understand what it is about the last paragraph that you don’t understand. Part of the problem is that there are at least two “last paragraphs” there. I just had to make it confusing.

  2. Thom Hickey says:

    I look forward to the new series. Thom.

  3. PositivelyUnbroken says:

    I am looking forward to following your journey!

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