Thursday, March 10, 2011


I set out nicely, with my camera in hand, new lens affixed firmly, in a quest for bokeh (a cool effect with lights turning to fuzzy dots in - typically - the background of a photo). It's dark, here in Atlanta, at 9:00 pm, but near a shopping area, and in a hotel, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to stalk and capture elusive bokeh - at least thus far elusive to me.

I imagined the walkway near the front of the hotel would be the perfect location - it winds along a waterfall decorated path in front of office buildings, colorfully kept flower beds and finally culminating in a classical looking Greek statue. There would HAVE to be bokeh around there, or something I could at least start with.

Things looked promising with the path curving, and a string of lights illuminating it's curve, but alas, through the viewfinder, the bokeh blended to a non distinct line of blur, not even so much as differentiating itself into it's curved form. I tried different angles; I looked around guiltily to see if anyone was watching, maybe thinking I was weird, or worse yet, assuming I know what I'm doing when I haven't the slightest.

Not able to capture what I hoped I had seen in my head, I continued walking, giving up on Apollo, or whoever he is, his bronze form leaping toward something not cast in bronze. I spied some bare trees ahead, illuminated from below with powerful lights. Not bokeh, but interesting. Looking around at the stark white lights in boring patterns, too distantly spaced to show up nicely as bokeh in a photo, I thought: "interesting is better than nothing," and went off to shoot the trees.

In the dark, I bent over half way, trying to get the angle of the light shining up the trunk. Several shots don't turn out - all fuzz and blur because I can't bend over, hold the camera and my position and shoot with a long shutter speed in the dark. A car pulls up into the driveway.I quickly stand up, trying not to look odd.

I realize two things:
  1. I can't take this shot from this angle with this position. I have to find a better position.
  2. I shouldn't give a FUCK what someone things when I'm out shooting (or doing anything else, as long as it's not robbing banks).
I look around guiltily. This shit is hard to shake - I'm telling you.

And then, in my newly realize bravery, I realize the only way I'm going to make this shot work is laying down, still, supported by the ground, steady, looking up at the angle I had been imagining. I layed down in the flower bed and took my shots.

It felt great. They weren't the best shots, but I gave them the best chance I could. And I realized that in so many ways, I let fear keep me in my safe zone, and I suffer for it. The dreams and accomplishments I want to have will not happen if I'm constantly looking around guiltily, hoping no one sees me try, or do something that looks weird.

So I ran up to the firehouse and took a picture of the truck through the window in the garage - because I was afraid someone would think I was crazy for doing it. And then, I walked arounnd the outdoor mall shooting, even in front of the big windows in the Asian restaurant, where everyone could see me. I even shot a few through the window at the people inside, hoping for one of those shots that looks like I'm an outsider yearning to be inside. Neither of these particular scenes turned out, but getting over something did, for that moment.

I think I'd like to make this part of the photography goal - to not apologize for trying, for taking shots to see what happens, even if I look weird, even if I look weird AND the shot doesn't turn out, but not being afraid to try. Instead of waiting to become "good" to take a risk, I want to take the risk now, because really, that's how I'm going to learn and get better, not the other way around.

The other way around is simply uninspired.

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