Saturday Evening Post #159:

I’ve spent the past couple of days mentoring a young, beginner bird photographer.

It’s funny, I think, if you ask someone what they do, you might get I am (was) a Chemist, or perhaps and Accountant, or Motor Mechanic, Banker, or School Teacher.
But
Say “I’m a Photographer’, and its well, kind of ho-hum, yeah, but what do (did) you do for a living.
Anyone  with a mobile fone can be ‘a photographer’.

I usually answer these days, “By (pause), Training and Background, (pause), I’m a Photographer.
Not Iphoneography in there to confuse.
Still, it does lead to some interesting side discussions.

Bruce Barnbaum in his book The Essence of Photography, tells the story of two art teachers.
The first looks at the stick figure drawings of a child and asks, “Oh is that your Mum, or Sister or is it You?”  A question bound to enhance the creative expression of the budding artist.
The other will ask, much more bluntly, “Is your family really green?” And there goes creativity.

I personally can speak loudly to that, as an art teacher, in my year 8, dismissed my attempt, at a subject, as it did not fit the template or paradigm she had set.  But, I still think it was creative.  However that was, as they say, the end of my budding art career. 🙂

One of my Tai Chi masters says of learning the various forms, “Art is always changing and growing. If not, its dead”  He is quite ‘hot’ on not just completing the form the same way, each time, but allowing room for personal expression.

I’ve said here before, get a bunch of photographers together and very soon the discussion will turn to “Whatchabeendoinlately?”

And it’s not just about what work/client or style.
It usually enters into the area of what new ideas have you been exploring.

In his book, The Art Spirit Robert Heri says, A tree growing out of the ground is as wonderful today as it ever was. It does not need to adopt new and startling methods”

Flowers it has been said, don’t get all bent out of shape, and go off to seek their personal freedom.  They don’t plan to move to another location for better opportunities or bewail the climate where they are growing. They simply get on with the task.

Which leads, me hopefully to the point of the moment with Cassia, of Cinnamon.
One of the challenges I often face is getting correct exposure for a light bird on a dark backdrop or a dark bird on a light background.   Or an inflight, where the bird moves from light to shadow and the poor old camera meter just can’t keep up.
One of the reasons I shoot such work with the camera in “M”anual. There are of course a number of ways to hold that exposure, but I’ve adopted the “M” method.

Yet working with my young friend, and not wishing to ask are his birds really green (or over or under exposed), we have been discussing and practicing ways to keep exposures under control.  You may laugh, but I’ve had him shooting Aperture priority, JPEG for the past few days. It offers less room for error, keeps him behind the camera and doesn’t wander into the fantasy of the ‘digital darkroom’.

Too much light. Make corrections.
Too little light.  Make corrections.

The next few weeks will find him reaching further into the crayon box and finding he can select a colour other than green. !

Cassia was waiting for the next food delivery.  Impatiently, if Falcons do such an emotion.  She flew from one perch in the open, to another in the shade. From front lighting to backlighting and all the way through.

As Bruce  says, “Its not about technical ideas and methods… nor about making images simply because you can with the tools and apps at your disposal… It’s about, because you love photography,  putting in the time and effort necessary. ”
(In Tai Chi we call that Kung-it refers to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete)