But first, a little bit of history …
Like anything in art, we have to learn to deal with embracing disappointment in photography. As Bob Ross would say, there are no mistakes in art, only happy little accidents. I had to apply that to my photography; I had to learn to love the blur.
My parents gave me a 110 camera as a kid. (Admittedly, I wanted a 35 mm camera that, in my mind, took better pictures.) It didn’t matter, the 110 got me shooting. Point. Click. Wind. Next!
Fast forward several years, past a college degree where I avoided photography because the equipment seemed intimidating. Digital cameras changed that. Digital made photography easy and accessible. I bought an Olympus Camedia C-700 with some graduation money and kept going. Point. Click. No wind. Lots of lag. Next!
When I finally bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D80, I kept up the rhythm. Only now, I had motorized autofocus and knew how to change the ISO to take photos in lower light without the flash. Point. Click. Next. Next. Next!
The wrong setup
Maybe I should’ve titled this post “Incorrect Shutter Speeds and How I Learned to Love the Blur.”
The ducklings, in the first pic above, were on the edge of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. Of course I had to grab a photo of them … or 50. Given the light conditions after sunset, I had my shutter speed too slow trying to catch the right exposures and wound up with several blurry photos. This one, however, is now one of my favorite pictures: it’s happy accident.
Ducklings on the move! Damn the hurried rush of our nation’s capital (and the Man)!
Trying too hard
Looking for the photos I wanted to use in this post, I happened to see the photo of the guy ocean fishing with the surf blurred. Initially, I skipped over it because I thought it was trash. On second glance, I think it’s marvelous. It is a happy accident.
With the camera and lens settings at ?22 and 1/6th of a second (tech talk for “not correct”), surely it’s a screw-up pic, right? It’s not in focus, the guy’s place in the composition is slightly awkward. And you know what? I love it! I inadvertently blurred the incoming surf, catching it mid-splash hitting the guy wading out to fish. The photo tells a story in a way I couldn’t really have captured on purpose if I’d tried. With a crop and some color processing in Lightroom, BAM! Awesome photo.
The next photo above I call Desi in Motion, or Futurist Rattie. Desi is my dog, a rat terrier.
Let’s be frank, I didn’t have my camera adjusted to take a good photo of Desi. Mostly because at the time, I had no idea how to work the camera manually. I’d snap a pic, look at the result, turn a dial and hope for better. Shooting this way got me where I wanted to go, eventually.
This is one of those times I snapped a photo, adjusted a setting and tried again. This image looked awful on the viewfinder and I thought I would throw it out once I saw it full-sized on the computer. But nope! It captures this little guy’s sometimes-frenetic personality. He’s constantly alert and moving, a terrier through and through.
Plus, I generally love the art of Futurism. (And don’t worry, I Googled it for ya.)
A key focus of the Futurists was the depiction of movement, or dynamism. The group developed a number of novel techniques to express speed and motion, including blurring, repetition, and the use of lines of force.
As with all of my happy accidents in art and photography, there’s no way I would’ve set out to make this image. I’m glad it happened, though.
The last image is my friend Michael being silly. Sometimes, accidentally (or purposefully) capturing the moment of fun is all you need.