Living on a farm surrounded by fields, this week’s photo challenge instantly made me think of the endless options to capturing these vast and somewhat flat canvases in a photo. My biggest struggle here when it comes to bringing what I see with my eyes into the image is: where do I focus and from what angle? While we can do amazing things to our images in post-processing with Lightroom and Photoshop, it cannot (in my opinion) compare to what our eyes can take in and the images they produce in our minds as we stand there and just gaze.
I often stop to aim my camera at the fields–especially this time of the year as they begin to turn golden–only to end up deleting the capture straight away because it just falls flat. Do you know what I mean? In all honesty, that happens a lot when I want to capture landscapes. I got that wide angle lens, for example, that I had been wanting to get for so long, and yet somehow I can’t help but feel disappointed by how it pushes my vision into the background. I do get to capture the wide spectrum, but what my eyes see–the magic in certain elements that makes what I see so wonderful–trails off into the distance.
I have three lenses, but I am shooting mostly with my Tamron 90mm macro at the moment. As a result, I am moving around a lot, but I do get what I want with it. And while I have started wishing for a lens with wider zoom options, I think this way the challenges I meet are good for my creativity. To not have too many options forces me to come up with solutions and puts me in situations I might not have ended up in if I could just reach for another lens.
So instead of being sad for not managing to capture the wonderful beauty of the fields the way I envisioned to begin with, I focused on the contrast between sharpness and blur created when using the smallest f-stop on my macro lens. All the images in this post are shot at f2.8. And I am honestly so very happy with the results.
I absolutely love the effects and textures I can achieve in post-processing. Truthfully, even without any editing at all many photos turn out great. I just find it so much fun to play around with them, especially when I have gotten my settings just right. The glow, the shimmer and sparkle, or the filtering effects of swaying foliage or leaves in the nearest foreground. Together with that one area of focus, I get to translate the magic I feel–even if it turned out differently than I first imagined.
Thank you so much for reading. I wish you all a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. Much love. ❤
This week’s photo challenge couldn’t have come at a better time. I have mentioned before how much I love these challenges because of how they light up my brain and make ideas whoosh on in. Yesterday I only got one idea, but sometimes that is all it takes. One spark. One shot. Every day life is full of let-downs but also opportunities, and what matters is which one you latch on to. The choices you make. The chances you take. We have to find and nurture that one glowing ember and keep on moving toward our goals, toward our dreams. Do it in spite of how everything else seems to be working against you.
Yesterday I felt like I stepped out onto a battlefield and into the wild storm of past ghosts and spectral voices with only a fragile whisper to challenge them, and I want to tell you about it. In honour of today’s post, I have left all photos unedited, except for the very last one in this post.
Two nights ago at sunset the light was so incredibly gorgeous. I shouted out to Jay and Lilli: Shoes on, let’s go, we’re going outside to jump around like crazy in the sunset! And we did. Except Jay kind of just stood there, while Lilli, Loke and I ran around like we had ants in our pants.
I had my camera set up and took so many photos. When I got inside, though, and uploaded them I wanted to cry. Noise noise noise. Grainy colours. That was all I could focus on.
The lens I shoot with the most is the one that came with my camera, an EFS 18-55 mm–a rather basic lens. I was in to Rauma some time ago to inquire about wide angle lenses, which I have read are great for landscape photography. The lady in the shop confirmed this, let me try one, and told me this little 18-55 mm I have definitely won’t do the job.
This lens has been a trusty companion throughout all these years, though, and I haven’t ever been disappointed. Not until the night I uploaded those sunset photos. All of yesterday I was so bummed out about it. It has to be the lens, I said to Jay. I am doing everything right. I am following the instructions and I am getting the hang of ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and the light metering. It has to be the lens. Right?
Is it?Maybe I am just not good enough.
Around midnight, when the sun had climbed behind the horizon, the mist arrived. Yes! Woohoo! I took my macro lens, knowing it certainly isn’t ideal for landscape, and went outside for another round. I spent most of that time staring at a spider web to figure out how to capture it. Only the faintest breeze danced along with the mist, and while I couldn’t feel it, the spider web swaying ever so slightly was proof enough.
I told Jay: That’s it. I’m done. Nothing good comes out of this. I didn’t even bother trying to remove the speckles because they are absolutely everywhere.
I didn’t let it go, though. Figuring out what the problem was so I could fix it compelled me to keep trying. I sat down yesterday to scour my photography book that I ordered a few weeks ago. Apparently, the sharpest and most vivid-coloured images are created at between f8 and f11. Because of the shape of the lenses. And I had used f22 as we danced to the sunset. So yesterday evening I forced myself to give it another try.
My heart really wasn’t in it but, as always, energy filled every fiber of my body once the trees gathered around.
Something funny happened. There I was, running up and down our little forest road, dancing and jumping and curtseying in front of a tree, asking for a dance, and out of nowhere a neighbour came walking toward me with their dog. Good evening! You get to be in my photo shoot, I said. He laughed, and then I started talking to the dog. I was so shocked that I just kept babbling, and I can’t remember what I said or much of what he said. I do remember that their dog is about to have puppies and is going away for several weeks.
Besides achieving to be bitten by mosquitoes about fifty times and getting actual ants up my skirt, I felt nothing came out of that photo shoot. I couldn’t see anything else but what I was already looking for. Faults. I felt like I was met by failure at every turn.
But then an e-mail arrived–The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. Focus, it told me, and I read the post. All my woes were pushed aside as I got the idea to log in to my iCloud and look through my older photos, from almost two years ago.
One of the most important things I have learned so far on my journey has been to get to know and understand myself. One big part of me is my tendency to strive for perfection. It is a tough one, but I am trying to learn to see and use it as a great tool and asset instead of an obstacle. Weaving it together with my creativity and artistic sides when I also have a tendency to obsess, not let things go and go with the flow, however, is probably one of my biggest challenges. This is getting to the heart of it, this is where I break it or make it.
So far I have shared so many photos with you, majority taken with that 18-55 mm lens. Close-ups or landscapes. In all kinds of light and settings. So why did I suddenly lose my head over those sunset photos? Why could I not see how great they are? Well, I engaged the old me, focused on the mistakes, the faults, the failures. I didn’t see the whole picture, I didn’t remember I am on a journey. I expected too much of myself, too soon. In turn I missed out on all the things I did achieve. That I kept going in spite of feeling failure all the way down into my frozen toes. I didn’t give up–in spite of everything, I kept grabbing at opportunities.
Sometimes, even when we are convinced we are getting nowhere, deeper processes are at work. We need to trust in those, let go and cut ourselves some slack. I know it can seem impossible at times, but I dare to promise you that even when you cannot feel the wind it is there. Step back, look for signs. They are all around you, and within. And keep going, no matter what. You will get there.