Saturday Evening Post #90: What’s Fun to Shoot!

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away from Corona, I had the good fortune to be able to attend a day workshop with a visiting US based photographer, Pete Turner.

It is said, of Pete, that he was one of the founding fathers of colour photography, and more particularly graphic, dynamic and alive motifs.

His use of colour in a world of monochrome was striking to say the least.

He is known to have said, “Color is in my DNA, I think in color”.

He also talked on the day about being able to follow your instincts and not formulas. And as he would say, “And ultimately, that is the key—shoot what’s fun.”

You’ve probably seen his “Rolling Ball” image.  If not here is a link.

For many years, I thought that the image somehow was made using one of the ‘Great Pyramids of Egypt’.  Never was able to figure out the funny little hut shape on top.


It wasn’t taken in Egypt. It’s not a pyramid. It’s a roof top on a building somewhere in the Nubian Desert.  Ahh.  That makes sense.

But the Graphic is still so compelling.

If you like detective stories, I found this by fellow photographer, Eric Meola (another whose work in colour is simply gripping). Finding the Location for Rolling Ball

I learned a lot that day at the workshop. How to manipulate colour, how to make amazing duplicate montages (remember this was way way before Photoshop), how shape and form may bring a bold graphic to an otherwise ordinary overlooked subject. And so much more.

But the big takeaway was:
A good photograph has to be something that pleases you, that you like. That is the important thing. Does it pass your litmus test? Start on a project and stick to your guns. A project you want to work on that inspires you, and keeps the creative juices flowing.

And here is a link for the cataloge of Pete’s 2006-07 exhibition at George Eastman House.

After many twists and turns in my own path with a camera, and I can say, that just about everyone of those, (with the exception of making photos of powder-coated white laundry stands with highly polished stainless steel insert bowls, — think keeping white, white, while making the stainless steel look like bright clean metal. ((and for bonus points try to work out how to keep the studio internal reflections in the bowl from picking up all extraneous shapes, lights and colours)) that just about everything I’ve photographed has included an element of enjoyment for the subject.
I used to have the following as a sort of studio motto, “It’s hard to explain, but I try to photograph a moment or a feeling…”

The young kites were having their “hunting on the ground” lessons when we arrived the other day. Totally absorbed by their activity they seem to ignore my presence. So much so that this one was happy to make a close approach and perch on the thistle not too far from me, and like a well prepared model, turn this way, that way, lean back, and engage great eye contact.

Shoot what’s fun.

10 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #90: What’s Fun to Shoot!

  1. Definitely accepting of you as part of their world, it is rather special when they do that. I love Turner’s ‘being able to follow your instincts and not formulas. And as he would say, “Ultimately, that is the key—shoot what’s fun.” ‘ quote. Something I have tried to do, not always successfully but, hey, that’s life. Yes there are times when we needs follow ‘the rules and formulae’ and that tends to producing technically correct images that have no soul. One needs to know the rules to be able to break them. Birding and sports photography are great teachers, you set up with the settings you think you want and then something happens, without time to adjust, so you just take the shot, it may not be perfect but you have captured the moment. From there you become open to experimenting and becoming part of the image. Leaving a little bit of yourself in the image. Same applies when mixing a band, the sound desk becomes your instrument.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David, I guess iconoclastic is the best single word to describe my current approach to bird photography. And it is basically to have fun!
      You’re right about settings, for most of my working life I’ve used Aperture Priority, but the past year or so for birds, I’ve taken to Manual. Seeing I came from that era, it wasn’t a big change. The old “Sunny 16” rule works as I’ve re-trained my brain to work with it at f/5.6. Suprisingly enough, (only jokin’) the old film leaflet setting for ‘snow and sand’ is just right for these dudes in good sunlight.
      I your, “Leave a bit of yourself in the image’. Think I wrote to that a few posts back.
      I used to hate mixing bands, Drummer always wants more volume 🙂


  2. How lovely to have the bird pose for you David. I always found the Eastern Yellow Robin and Grey Fantail great posers, how much more surprising a curious raptor. You have had a marvelous past in photography David which shines out of your amazing captures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day Ashley, I think I’ve said before, but when I first started seriously photographing birds, a mentor told me that Eastern Yellow Robins, and Black-shouldered Kites were impossible to get close to. I believed that for several seasons and didn’t try to hard.
      Then I discovered they were infact both very approachable, at their instigation.
      Funny really.
      Ha, and the only ones I show are the good ones. Should see the waste basket. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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