So why photography, why have I become passionate about photography, and why is photography important? It is all about being alone. Some people go to church, and some people have a therapist. Photography is my therapy, and the landscape is my therapist.
I have talked in previous articles about my struggles with mental health, depression and how my methods of dealing with it, although maybe not good, works for me.
I “played” with photography back in the day with an old 35mm Pentax camera going through the pain of paying for development only to find out a week later that the photos were out of focus or just rubbish.
My mother, however, was an avid photographer, would spend money on courses and equipment. She would produce some exceptional results and won a few competitions in her time.
Working overseas with a mum who constantly asked for photographs, I finally jumped into the digital age. I bought my first Canon EOS digital camera and then, after realising I had no clue about what I was doing, discovered the benefits of youtube with the training it could provide.
What do you know about photography?
As my own worst critic. Asking myself, “What do you know about photography” all the time. Having even almost thrown in the towel and gave up.
I tried a few areas of photography, such as portraits and street photography.
I have never got into wedding photography, but this is undoubtedly an area I have no interest in. So, none of these three areas really got my juices flowing.
I then discovered landscape photography and especially the phrase “Golden Hour”. Once entirely up to speed on the golden hour techniques, it was time to give it a go.
The first attempt at getting up early enough was a non-starter (separating my back from a mattress before dawn was the issue), then after almost getting lost in the dark in the Arabian desert, I needed a plan. So, a tent was the answer, along with the gear for camping.
The first night was a huge emotional overload. After setting up my tent and getting the coffee on, the silence was deafening; the smell of the tent, the campfire, the air, all of them triggering memories.
Some good memories and some bad.
As we all know, some smells will trigger memories that are long forgotten, most of the time the memories will spring up out of the blue and kick you in the ass.
Photographs and pictures are the same.
So, sitting there by the fire, drinking coffee and setting my camera gear up for the shot I wanted was making me focus on the now, completely ignoring other distractions I had in my life. So, I was looking forward to getting that great shot at the right moment, i.e. Happy. If I was happy with the photo and the way I had executed the shot, that’s what mattered. If other people liked it, that was a bonus but not a requirement.
The photograph on the home page is one of these and a large copy in the gallery
Therapeutic photography has been used for a long time to help people with their own self-discovery and a way they can focus on changing aspects of their lives or by therapists to help their clients resolve personal emotional problems.
I do not claim to understand the medical side of photography and psychology, but I can understand it for my own mental and physical health.
Being alone in the wilderness not only gives you the chance to give your senses a new experience but also and mainly, your chance to reflect.
Once you are set up and waiting for the golden hour or the period after taking the shot, you have the chance to reflect on life’s issues. You have the time to think about what is going on in your life. You have time to plan a way to move on or mitigate that stress.
There is something magical about being alone in the wilderness. Control your mind, and you will be able to figure out life’s issues. Along the way, hopefully, get some fantastic photographs.
Draw what you see
Mindful photography is the art of capturing a poem in a single shot, freezing time and, importantly, showing how we see the world.
Best of all is there’s no aggression, no competition, no worrying about gear, no condescension, and best of all, no hurry.
A picture is a poem without words – (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, (born December 65 bc, Venusia, Italy—died Nov. 27, 8 bc, Rome)
I remember when my dad was teaching me to draw. He would always say, “draw what you see, not what you think you see”. It took me years to understand this and even longer to put it into practice.
I think the easiest way to describe this is if I put you by a lake with mountains in the background and asked you to draw the scene. You would probably come up with a good impression of the lake and mountains. But is that what you see? Or what do you think you see? Did you add the reflections in the water? What colours did you see?
How often have you taken a photograph on manual and then can’t understand why the colours look all wrong? It is simple. A typical camera has a dynamic range of 10-14 stops, whereas your eyes are around 24 stops. Dynamin range of cameras and eyes is a vast and fascinating subject for another day. For now, it means your eyes can see far more colours than your cameras.
Mobile phones and cameras with an automatic function have unique algorithms built-in to give the impression of colour depth, but it’s all maths.
Why am I telling you this?
You need to re-train your eyes. When you are out walking, look hard at your surroundings and see what colours you can see. You will be amazed; you will not just see green grass but maybe grass with a hint of yellow or blue. This also depends on the weather, time of day and time of year.
One of the habits I have now got into is noting down colours in a shot. This enables me to ensure the colour is there in post-processing and to highlight the colours that really stand out.
I have to date, sold several photographs and have been commissioned to create a book cover by Lesley Abernethy an outstanding historical author. So, getting paid as a photographer is a solid direction to becoming a full time professional.
I hope you enjoyed this article, let me know what your thoughts are.
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