Photography - Moon rising over the Gariep
A Keen Photographer. Some reflections on Digital Photography.
Someone has said “the basic difference between a photographer and someone who takes photos is that the person who takes photos takes 500 photos and shows them to others. The professional photographer takes 5000, discards 4995 and shows one”. Digital photography has opened the door to thousands of amateur enthusiasts who can take photos of a good quality, using cameras of reasonable cost, to record images that they can justifiably be proud of. Sometimes they may even dream of taking a really good photograph that will make it onto the front cover of one of the glossy magazines that grace our book stands. Add to the good cameras at reasonable prices, a copy of Photoshop, and the sky seems to be the limit. This is unfortunately a delusion, like many of the other dreams that men and women dream.
At the same time the advent of digital photography has put into the hands of many, the potential to take better photos than amateur photographers in the past could take, simply because of the cost factor and the ability to review images immediately and correct glaring errors. As I go out into the field now I can take 50 photos of a bird sitting on a branch and with a combination of luck and some skill could actually record a couple of very good ones. That is if the bird stays long enough!
At the same time while these images may look good on my laptop or on prints in my album, they are not going to make me a fortune or even vow an audience. In order to take that step up onto the next level there are a couple of things that have to take place.
Firstly I will need to take a mortgage on our house and buy the camera and lenses that will give me the edge over the thousands of others with their simply good cameras. Even if I win the local jackpot or inherit a couple of million from that long lost Aunt and rush out to buy the most expensive equipment on the market, I may still be somewhat disappointed with my results. Reading one of the self help books on “10 ways to take pin sharp photos” will undoubtedly be of great help, but before I really make progress onto the next level I will also need to realize a couple of other facts of life. Taking great photos is an art and not everybody has the artistic ability needed. In fact photography is both art and science because you need a lot of both to handle the many angles that have to be considered between what is out there in reality and what appears on your screen. It really makes me mad that my wife Audrey regularly takes better photos than me even with her camera that in my mind is not quite as good as mine.
Recently my daughter Gill has been sending me photos on Instagram that she takes on her tablet and obviously she has inherited her artistic talent from her mother because they are often stunning. Images that would seem so ordinary to me become so eye catching that I am amazed by what she does with them.
Photography like fishing also takes time, patience and luck, and as Gary Player, the South African golfer of days gone by, is reputed to have said: “the more I practice the luckier I get!” The cost of the right equipment will set you up on the road to those prize winning photos, but the road further on is one that few are prepared and even capable of travelling. So I have folders with my best 20 or 30 or 50 birds, animals, and so on. I have decided that the next step up is a road too far that I do not need to travel on.
One of my favorite photos is the moon coming up over the Gariep Dam. On our way from East London to Pretoria we arrived at the Gariep in the late evening to see a similar scene, but on the road with no place to stop immediately the photographic moment came and went. So we stayed an extra day to set up for the next evening, hoping that the moon would be as beautiful the next evening, and it was!
The more you are out and the more sunsets and sunrises you see the better chance you have of taking that great photo. You have to be there and you have to take your camera with you.
A photographic course or two or membership of the local photographic club will help a person to improve their skill but “it is the early bird that catches the worm” and to get that really great photo that I am hoping for I have to be prepared to get up early, stay out late, travel far and wide, think deeply and plan carefully. Then and only then as I click the shutter will I one day be able to say “WOW!” instead of “that’s another good photo that I think I will keep.”
Meanwhile I will have a lot of fun with my mid-range point and shoot, and who cares if my photos don’t make it into National Geographic of even S.A. Birding, Every photo brings back special memories, and that is what counts. If you have some time I will be happy to show you my 500 photos from the last trip. Now if I win the Jackpot…………….then perhaps I will show you only one!